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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: March 17, 2013: Julia Gillard's carbon tax; Labor leadership; St Patrick's Day

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Joint Doorstop Interview, Sydney March 17, 2013

Subjects: Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; Labor leadership; St Patrick’s Day.



This morning what we can see with the figures released is despite Canberra pretending the carbon tax is having no impact across the country, the numbers suggest here in New South Wales that it’s going to be close to a billion dollars alone and that is made up

of a direct hit on power bills, over $550 million going direct to businesses and households across the state but it’s also close to $350 million in stranded costs from the electricity sector and that simply is money that’s going to cost investment and jobs. But

more importantly in terms of the overall state budget it is directly hitting us. So, for communities across this state, for families across this state, the carbon tax is not only hitting their power bills, it also means that the State Government has got less money

for direct services, frontline jobs, investments in our hospitals, investments in our schools, roads and transport system.

So Canberra can pretend all it likes but the carbon tax is having an impact, it’s providing no compensation to the people of New South Wales for the impact on the State Government budget and that is having a direct impact on families and communities. So,

whatever way they cut it, it is a double hit. Whether it be increased power bills or the loss of services and infrastructure in this state, whether it be health, education or roads, it is having a huge impact here in New South Wales.


It’s lovely be here at Freshwater with Mike Baird, my friend, my local parliamentary colleague and of course the State Treasurer

and what Mike has said is obviously further evidence that the carbon tax is hurting the people of New South Wales and is hurting the people of Australia. The carbon tax has been a disaster from the word go. It's impacted on the cost of living of Australia's

forgotten families. It's damaged the job security of Australia's working people. It's hurt our economy. It hasn't helped our environment. As I've said from the beginning, this is a bad tax based on a lie and it will go under a Coalition government. On day

one of a Coalition government, the public service will be instructed to prepare the legislation. On day one of a new parliament the first legislation considered will be the carbon tax repeal legislation and even on the Government's own figures, if we get rid of the

carbon tax, we remove ten per cent of people's power bills. With one stroke on the Government's own figures, if we remove the carbon tax, we take ten per cent off people's power bills. Now, given all the pressure that the forgotten families of Australia are

under right now, this would be a very significant boon and it would be the first step that an incoming Coalition government would take to ease the pressure on families cost of living.

Do we have any questions?


What are we comparing this to in last year's figures? Are we comparing it to last year’s, just the press release, it's doing the

breakdown but it doesn't have any comparative figures.


Well, the carbon tax obviously came in 1 July last year. So this is the first year, the first full impact of the tax on the state.


So, are you saying it's costing an extra $1 billion this year?


Close to a billion dollars. That's right. It's a two-fold impact. It's hitting the households and the businesses. So in the power bills, as

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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Tony just said, the power bills across this state, over $550 million going direct on to those and in addition to the stranded costs in the electricity sector which comes out and has an impact on the inability of the Government to provide additional services. So we

have a double hit here in New South Wales.


Do you agree power bills were already on the rise over the last couple of years?


We inherited from the state Labor government a price determination from 2009 to 2014 that saw power bills go up 60 per cent in five years. There is a big increase. We have taken action to address that. On top of that, you have the ten per cent hit on the

carbon tax as Tony just articulated.


No one is saying that electricity prices were not under pressure. The problem is that the carbon tax is making a bad situation much, much worse and no government that gets it when it comes to the pressures on Australian families would have hit them with

a carbon tax. So not only was it a sign that you can't trust this Government, not only was it a sign that this Government didn't know how to manage an economy but it was a sign that this Federal Labor Government doesn't understand the pressures on Australian



So is there any way the state can get around the extra costs or are we just going to have to cop it?


Well, I would say to Julia Gillard today how about the compensation that her predecessor promised New South Wales?


And obviously one of the things that is going to help not just the families of Australia but the New South Wales budget is the repeal of a carbon tax that will take place under an incoming Coalition government. So, if you want to ease the squeeze on the

New South Wales budget as well as help take pressure off the forgotten families of New South Wales, let's change the government and let’s get rid of the carbon tax.


So are you saying that then if you come to power and wipe the carbon tax off, then next year’s figures we will see that one billion

dollars just evaporate?


Well, that’s exactly right because this is the cost to New South Wales of the carbon tax and it’s a cost that simply won’t be there once the carbon tax is gone.


Can I add, it’s important to know in that for families across New South Wales the estimate impact on the state budget is almost a

quarter of a billion dollars so if Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister in September of this year, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars that we’ll be able to put into our frontline services, put into our hospitals, into our roads, into our transport and I think every family

across the state, they hear all this word from the current Prime Minister that it’s having no impact - well, I tell her, the people of New South Wales would very much like that quarter of a billion dollars into the services they’re crying out for and at the moment

the only solution to that is Tony Abbott becoming Prime Minister.


Tony, I don’t know if you’ve happened to come across, just on another issue, a video of Kevin Rudd’s speech, kind of taking a jab, St Patrick’s Day and all that kind of stuff and having a few political jabs, saying, ‘I’m going to challenge, oh no I’m not’. Do you

think that’s appropriate?


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Look, I’ve been to the Brisbane St Patrick’s Day dinner and it’s a fairly rollicking occasion and it doesn’t surprise me that as a

speaker at that dinner that Kevin Rudd would be making some light hearted remarks. Obviously there is an edge to these remarks and it’s indicative of the ongoing tensions inside the Labor caucus and the ongoing division and dysfunction inside the

Government. The point I make is that as long as Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are in the parliament, the Labor Party is going to be divided and dysfunctional. Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen this week. All sorts of rumour swept the parliament at the

end of last week. All sorts of rumours are now going around about what might happen this week. I think the Australian people are sick of the circus. They’re sick of the soap opera. They want strong and stable government and the problem is not the leader. The

problem is Labor. The problem is not whether it’s Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, the problem is this is just a divided and dysfunctional government and it’s never going to change while the two of them are in the parliament.


Tony, the Gillard Government has announced a $5 million trial for round the clock childcare. What are your thoughts on that?


Obviously the Gillard Government appreciates that there is a problem here and they’re right, there is a problem. It’s a problem that

they have been simply unsuccessful in dealing with over the last five and a half years. Now, what we need is a full re-examination of our childcare system. The childcare system needs to properly address the fact that these days we have a 24/7 economy. The

families of Australia need to be supported to work in a 24/7 economy. We need to look at the flexibility of our system, including we need to look at in home care as something that could be a bigger part of the childcare system going forward.


Do either of you have any messages for St Patrick’s Day?


St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, obviously is, I suppose, an important cultural figure wherever we have an Irish heritage and

Australia obviously has a strong Irish heritage. One of my teachers used to say that the story of Australia was that the English made the laws, the Scots made the money and the Irish made the songs and I dare say there’ll be a bit of singing today.


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