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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8718

Carbon Pricing

Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (14:40): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the Belair Hotel in my electorate, which has just been hit with its first electricity bill under the carbon tax. The bill clearly states that their off-peak power rate has increased by 45 per cent as a direct result of the carbon tax. Given that small business receives no compensation, will she apologise for increasing their electricity charge by 45 per cent, or is this, as she said, the whole point of her carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:41): As it happens, I know the Belair Hotel and so I would be very interested in seeing the account that the member for Boothby is referring to. It seems to me that the member for Boothby might want to make some inquiries about the impact of escalations in electricity prices in South Australia that have nothing to do with carbon pricing. As the member for Boothby would be aware, the people of South Australia have seen, even before 1 July, very big increases in power prices. The Premier of South Australia has actually acknowledged—

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Before I give the call to the Manager of Opposition Business, I will point out that points of order are not for debate. The Manager of Opposition Business has the call.

Mr Pyne: I agree with you, Madam Deputy Speaker. They should not be for debate. But they are to point out that the Prime Minister cannot be directly relevant to this question when she is talking about matters that have got nothing to do with the bill from the Belair Hotel, which is since the carbon tax was introduced.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. He has just, when I asked him not to, entered debate into his point of order. The point of order was relevance. If he had stuck to that, we would have been fine. The Prime Minister has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Ms GILLARD: I am very directly talking about electricity prices in South Australia for businesses, including the Belair Hotel, about which I was asked. I am prepared to make some inquiries about the Belair Hotel, as I have just stated. But I am also alerting the member for Boothby, who asked the question. As he would be aware, as other South Australians are, there have been increases in power prices in South Australia that are nothing to do with carbon pricing but raise my concerns about things like overinvestment in poles and wires. The Premier of South Australia has also indicated his concern about the so-called gold-plating of the system. So the member for Boothby may want to think about those factors.

On the impact of carbon pricing on small business, or even businesses of the size of the Belair Hotel, to the member of the Boothby and to the House in general, we have always indicated that small businesses will be passing through those costs, and that is why we have assisted consumers with tax cuts and family payment increases and pension increases. That is why we have always said, under the modelling, that people would see an increase of 0.7 per cent in the cost of living. That is less than a cent in a dollar.

Dr Southcott: I seek leave to table the electricity accounts of January 2012 and July 2012, which show—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Boothby will resume his seat. The Leader of the House.

Mr Albanese: The member also indicated he was quoting from a letter, and he should table that as well.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave has been granted to table the document. The member for Kennedy has the call, and a challenge to get his question in the time limit!