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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11430


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (16:49): Like the member for Wannon, I too am being silenced in this debate. I too only have five minutes to represent the issues and concerns of the people of Higgins. It is a disgrace and I endorse his comments. I will not get my allocated less than one minute per clean energy bill—19 bills for the carbon tax. I will get much less than that. Far from throwing open the curtains to let the sunshine in, this government is guillotining debate; it is silencing dissent. There was no mandate from the Australian people for this carbon tax bill. The Prime Minister told an untruth before the last election, saying, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' She will be judged by history for that, just as those people who support her in breaking the trust of the Australian people will be judged.

Today I would like to highlight four issues with this very flawed legislation: first, the global economy and the lack of a global move to introduce an economy-wide carbon tax, whether as a tax or an emissions trading scheme; second, the flaws in the figures and modelling of the government; third, the very real impact of the government's legislation will have on the people in my electorate of Higgins; and, fourth, the fact that at this point in time, and despite the lack of global consensus, there is an alternate way to reduce carbon emissions that will not damage our economy or export jobs while still allowing us to meet our target of a five per cent reduction in emissions by 2020.

I will concentrate on the first and third points and put my full speech on my website so that the people of Higgins know that I have had a chance to represent their concerns. In September, the IMF released dire warnings for the world's economy. It prompted the Treasurer to issue the following statement:

The IMF has issued a stark warning for the global economy highlighting that it has entered a dangerous new phase. Global activity has weakened and has become more unbalanced. Downside risks are also intensifying.

He went on to say

The report cautions that global financial risks remain very high, particularly in regions like the euro area, the United States and Japan.

At the same time this government is introducing a carbon tax, even claiming in the words of the Treasurer that it is the next crucial frontier in economic reform. Does this sound like an economically prudent and responsible course of action—to explore new frontiers in a deteriorating global economic environment, an environment that has been described as dangerous? Of course it is not. Moreover, if Australia introduces an economy-wide carbon tax, we will be moving on this ahead of the rest of the world. The Productivity Commission informs us that:

… no country currently imposes an economy-wide tax on greenhouse gas emissions or has in place an economy-wide ETS.

When you look at the partial schemes that are in place throughout the world and analyse the figures there, they also tell a very cogent story. The European ETS collects just $500 million a year, which equates to roughly $1 per person per annum. In Australia, though, under this carbon tax, the first year alone will raise $9 billion, or $400 per person per annum. This number only grows as the carbon price increases. Yet the emissions, according to the government's own modelling in Australia, will go up from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes by 2020. To achieve the carbon abatements that the government say the carbon price will achieve, on top of their $9 billion a year tax for the first three years they will need an extra $3.5 billion of carbon credits to be purchased each year from foreign carbon traders until 2020. To achieve their target by 2050, $57 billion worth will need to be purchased from foreign carbon traders.

There is a meeting in Durban in November this year to discuss the global response to climate change post Kyoto, yet we have heard nothing about that in this debate. In fact, if global consensus is something that the government truly believe is going to happen, then that would be the focus of our attention. But they do not discuss it because they know it is a great big con: there will be no global consensus coming out of that meeting in Durban next month. It will confirm what we all know to be a fact: Australia will be going it alone. We know that China's emissions will continue to increase, by 496 per cent by 2020, and that India's will also continue to increase, by 350 per cent—some world consensus!

I held a carbon tax forum in my electorate of Higgins and I spoke with my constituents about their concerns—concerns from self-funded retirees, who know that they are not going to be compensated; concerns from small businesses, who know that they are going to have to shed staff and jobs—and I will speak more about this later on. I spoke with small businesses throughout my electorate, and they are very much against this carbon tax.

Now, I do not have any more time available to me if I want to give my colleague an opportunity to speak, because of this disgraceful act by this disgraceful government that refuses to allow us to properly debate these bills.