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Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Page: 4328


Senator LAZARUS (QueenslandLeader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate) (12:52): I would like to advise the chamber that this is not my first speech. I rise today to support the repeal of the carbon tax, subject to the inclusion of Palmer United's key amendment, which will require the full cost savings from the removal of the carbon tax to be passed on to all Australians. Palmer United are determined to deliver real results for the people of Australia. Our historic amendment will ensure that Australians genuinely benefit from the removal of the carbon tax. Palmer United care about the people of Australia and will not sit by idly and watch those most in need hurt and suffer at the hands of red tape and broken promises.

There can be no justification for removing the carbon tax if it does not improve the lives of our citizens. That is why as leader of the Palmer United Party's Senate team, along with the support of my Palmer United colleagues, I am supporting the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], subject to the inclusion of the changes proposed by the Palmer United Party to ensure all Australians receive the full and immediate benefit of the removal of the carbon tax. Our key amendment to the carbon tax repeal bill 2013 [No. 2] requires the cost savings from removal of the carbon tax to be passed on to all Australians through lower power bills, which will put money back into the pockets of families across the country, ease the crippling and unfair burdens on businesses—

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

The PRESIDENT: Order! The gallery must remain silent. If there are any further interjections from the gallery, you will be ejected.

Senator LAZARUS: and give Australians stronger protection against exploitation from power companies by ensuring the ACCC has stronger powers to enforce and penalise power companies that do not pass on the savings.

Not only does this bill, with the inclusion of the Palmer United Party's historic amendment, deliver a toughened obligation for suppliers of electricity, natural gas and synthetic greenhouse gases to pass on all cost savings resulting from the carbon tax repeal; it also requires suppliers to clearly explain to the ACCC and customers the way in which cost savings have been calculated and passed on to consumers. That is why the Palmer United Party are supporting the bill, predicated on the inclusion of the key changes proposed by the Palmer United Party to ensure that power bills are amended to document the cost savings. Australians deserve transparency and should have the right to see the cost savings calculated in their power bills or associated documents. Without this information, Australians cannot be confident that they are enjoying the full and immediate benefit of the removal of the carbon tax. To ensure our entire country benefits from the repeal of the carbon tax, we must have mandatory requirements that the price of energy be reduced by the saving in carbon tax that no longer has to be paid.

Palmer United are committed to common-sense solutions which grow Australia and support all Australians to succeed, and this is why we must mandate that electricity and gas costs to Australian families, single mothers and pensioners be reduced by the abolition of the carbon tax. There must be reductions in the costs of energy to our industries and businesses to ensure their competitiveness and to bring down the cost of production and the cost of employing people so more jobs can be created and more Australians may find satisfaction and direction that gainful employment brings. The cost of running our schools, hospitals and institutions must benefit from lower energy costs.

There is no justification for the carbon tax. It sets the price of carbon at a far higher price than applies in the rest of the world, higher than the emissions trading scheme in Europe and higher than the emissions trading scheme in New Zealand. Climate change is a global problem and it needs a global solution. Australian families cannot bear the responsibility for this matter when Australia's trading partners fail to act or are not united. For Australia to act alone and impose a tax on carbon at this time has only sought to place a tax on jobs and discourage investment. We must create more jobs and more opportunities for our people.

Removal of the carbon tax, inclusive of our amendment, will help to stimulate the economy, create much needed jobs and help to reduce the financial hardship being endured by Australian families. Everywhere I go in Queensland there is a lack of confidence: a lack of confidence to allow businesses to invest,    a lack of confidence to employ people, a lack of confidence to allow economic growth and a lack of confidence to enable exports to expand. More revenue from economic activity will mean more resources for governments, hospitals, schools and a rising standard of living that Australians want, that Australians need and that Australians must have. And if the day comes when our major trading partners—China, the United States of America, the European Union, Japan and Korea—set up an emissions trading scheme then they will know Australia can act together with these countries to implement a global solution without disadvantaging our people.

Our commitment to the environment is clear; however, we need a solution which recognises and balances the needs of our environment, the needs of our economy and the needs of our people. Importantly, Australia must show leadership but the solution must be part of a global approach which does not unfairly hurt Australia. It has been said that when our trading partners set up an emissions trading scheme, they will require their trading partners which export to their countries to pay an emissions trading tax to their governments upon the import of products from countries that do not have an environmental trading scheme. In these circumstances, if Australia did not have an emissions trading scheme, Australia's exporters would be paying a tax to another country instead of Australia. Australia needs all the revenue it can get to meet the hopes and aspirations of its people. The carbon tax must go and electricity and gas prices must come down. Palmer United's team in the Senate is committed to lower electricity prices and lower gas prices for all Australians.

In 2013, when I was in Queensland campaigning for election to the Senate, I took a short break and visited family in Canberra. While in Canberra I became aware of an elderly couple who are forced to 'house sit' in Queensland each winter because they simply cannot afford the cost of heating their own home in Canberra. Every winter they have to leave the comfort, familiarity and safety of their own home just to survive the cold winter months. What sort of country have we become? As was once said, 'If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.'

I commend this historic bill to the Senate on the condition that the Palmer United amendment is accepted and included in the bill. All of us in this place must do all that we can to make the lives of all Australians better. We must go the extra distance to support our people, to protect our way of life and to assist those most in need—for this is the Australian way. For Palmer United it is the only way.