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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5299

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (16:39): The very thought of a carbon tax has made big business shudder and small business, the engine room of our economy, very surely catch pneumonia. The carbon tax did not get much of a run in the recent federal budget, but there was funding for a $13.7 million advertising campaign to sell this unwanted and unnecessary tax which will have such a negative impact on the lives of everyday Australians. The ad blitz started on Sunday. There was Michael Caton of The Castle fame spruiking the merits of a carbon tax. Someone, anyone, 'Tell him he's dreaming.' Cate Blanchett, wonderful actress, was also there on the small screen talking up the initiative. If Labor thinks it can sneak in this toxic tax via celebrity endorsement then it is wrong—plain wrong, morally wrong. Ms Blanchett would know that human and industrial activity has ensured CO2 levels are different than those in the Elizabethan era. It will not be any golden age if Labor, being dictated to by the unrepresentative Greens, forces a carbon tax on hardworking, long-suffering Australians. Our modern-day Maid Marian, Cate Blanchett, also ought to realise that a carbon tax will take hard-earned money from the pockets of the poor and will not decrease sea levels or lower the global temperature one iota—not one millimetre, not one degree. Robin Hood would not be proud. Perhaps our Treasurer is invoking the ideas of old King John from medieval times, who imposed harsh taxes on the working class.

This morning I received an email from an age pensioner in my electorate, who wrote:

When I listen to debates about a carbon tax, apart from it placating the Greens, I wonder if Labor's real intention is to have a new source of income in order to achieve their promised surplus?

The sender, Peter Piltz, is a fairly typical sort of person—a father, a grandfather, a former small business man, someone who knows a con when he sees it. He is like a whole host of other fairly typical sorts of people—regional Australians and city dwellers too—who can see straight through Labor's deception, spin and the fact that it has caved in to the Green pressure to keep a tenuous hold of its minority government.

Just before the 21 August election, the Prime Minister, who has shown she will say anything, do anything and be anything just to stay in The Lodge, declared: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' She is right about that. Greens Senator Bob Brown is running this sorry show. The Prime Minister has no mandate to introduce a carbon tax and inflict financial pain on the Australian people. She should do the decent thing, the honourable thing, the democratic thing and call an election. Now.

There is an imminent risk to Australia of the government's decision to delegate the carbon tax to an unelected committee—a huge risk that we as a nation ought not be taking. What sort of committee makes such critical decisions affecting the nation without the Prime Minister and without the Deputy Prime Minister? The member for Lyne, who I might add represents an electorate which gave just 13 per cent of primary preferences to Labor—the party he took 17 days and then 17 minutes to give power to after the hung election result—has talked about imposing a carbon price sufficient to 'let the market rip' and 'let the science fly'. Carbon tax is Labor's big lie—another of its broken promises. As we have heard from the member for Farrer this afternoon, we have had the 2020 Summit, the citizens' assembly, the independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which made such a mess of water, and now the unelected carbon pricing committee all telling this government—which has no idea how to do anything—how to do its job. Labor will relish the opportunity to impose high-reduction emissions in line with its minimum 40 per cent cut by 2020 via a suitably stacked member for Lyne, Ross Garnaut style independent authority led by, say, Tim Flannery, Garnaut himself or carbon queen Cate Blanchett.

In the Garnaut review it is stated that Australian households will ultimately bear the burden of the full cost of a carbon tax—householders, not big polluters. A $26 a tonne carbon price would push up electricity prices by an extra $300 a year per household in just the first year. Prices would continue to soar every year thereafter. Petrol would rise by 6.5c per litre. Gas would rise by up to 10 per cent in the first year. Grocery prices would increase. The price of Australian made cars will increase by $412. Manufactured goods would rise. It will push up farming costs, as the member for Farrer indicated, particularly in the Riverina, an area I represent. Compensation will be temporary. Compensation will not change people's carbon-producing habits to stop what the Deputy Prime Minister ridiculously and hysterically calls 'dangerous climate change'. The introduction of a carbon tax will hurt Australian manufacturing, and dependent industries and communities, for no environmental gain.

United States President Barack Obama abandoned his planned emissions trading scheme, further proving that this Labor government is now completely isolated from its major trading partners. How many jobs are we going to lose overseas, and what damage will be done to our economy before the US, Japan and China get on board, if ever? Labor's carbon tax will send manufacturing overseas to countries which use more emissions to make the same things which are currently being made here. Businesses will be forced to cut jobs to be able to afford the carbon tax.

Labor claims that 29 out of 38 countries with Kyoto obligations already have an ETS. Those 29 countries all operate under the European Union ETS—27 EU countries and Norway and Switzerland. The EU ETS is not comparable to Labor's carbon tax and certainly is no justification for proceeding with it. Eighty per cent of EU trade occurs amongst EU countries; therefore less than 20 per cent of its trade will be exported outside the EU to countries where the producers do not face ETS costs.

Common sense has given way, yet again, under Labor to economic recklessness. Australians are going to be burdened by significant extra costs, for no environmental benefit; our economy has been distorted by the misallocation and redistribution of resources for no reason; and our exporters are going to be placed at a disadvantage in the international market.

The Labor government have set a target for reducing emissions without having any clue about the effects it will have on the country—

Mr Champion interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: The member for Wakefield can interject all he likes, but he knows what I am saying is correct—or at least they will not reveal to the public what effects it will have.

Australia contributes 1.4 per cent of world energy CO2 emissions, according to 2002 figures. For the purpose of comparison, the USA contributes 23.5 per cent of global emissions; China, 14.6 per cent; the EU, 11.6 per cent. Why is this Labor government pushing for us to be world leaders with a carbon tax? Is it because Labor may be the government but the Greens have the power? Internationally renowned and respected environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg says there is no hurry; carbon taxes will only force us to spend all our money rolling out patently inefficient current technology when smaller investment in research would give much more innovative and much better and cheaper solutions in a few years.

Using agriculturally rich soil for forestry instead of for growing Australia's food supply will significantly impact on the produce that is supplied to cities and regional Australia. It might be fine for city slickers to support a carbon tax, but they will be the first to complain when they can no longer access fresh Australian produce. It is produce, not forests, which will feed our nation. We need to remember who puts food on our plates and supports the economy of this country. Crippling the agricultural industry will have major economic and social ramifications in regional Australia.

Just this afternoon Oxfam, in a media release entitled 'Broken food system could see millions go hungry', indicated that Oxfam's new Growing a better future report explains the world's broken food system, showing how rising food prices and increasing scarcity of arable land and water—rapid changes—will undermine access to food across the world. The media release reads:

Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said: "Although the world produces enough food for everyone, the broken food system means one in seven people are still going hungry.

"Oxfam was created in response to the food crisis caused by the Second World War in 1942, but this is a new food crisis that threatens us all.

…   …   …

… the Australian aid program reflects the global trend over recent decades of declining investment in the food and agricultural sectors of developing countries. We must address this and prioritise support for small-scale primary producers who make up more than 80 per cent of the world’s hungry people."

The media release goes on:

The Growing a better future report reveals that:

By 2050, demand for food will rise by 70 per cent, yet production is not keeping pace.

And it certainly will not keep pace with a carbon tax. As a nation, Australia is best placed to grow the food to feed ourselves and the world. A carbon tax and an unelected committee determining it will do nothing to help the world food shortage.

Coming from a government which claims to be for regional Australia, this carbon tax drives a stake deep into the heart of regional Australia. The unelected committee deciding the carbon tax does not stand for what Australians need, does not represent the views of ordinary, everyday families and is just being led by the nose by Labor, which is being led by the nose by the Greens, who are very on the nose. (Time expired)