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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1143


Mr WYATT (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to research released this week by Anglicare which shows Australians are struggling to cope with the rising costs of living and high electricity bills. Given that the Prime Minister has reneged on her pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax, and given that a carbon tax would increase electricity bills by hundreds of dollars a year, how does she propose to restore the faith in her government of voters who believed in her pre-election promise?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Hasluck for his question, which I believe to be his first question. I say to the member for Hasluck that, in terms of supporting families with cost-of-living pressures, I refer to my last answer and to the new measures that the government has taken in the last few years and the new measures that it has committed to during the election to assist families with cost-of-living pressures—measures like the family tax benefit change for teenagers that I referred to, because we do not believe the costs of kids go down when they turn 16; measures like the childcare tax rebate being available fortnightly; measures like school uniforms being eligible for the education tax rebate. We believe these are important in supporting families with cost-of-living pressures. I understand—


Mr Wyatt —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The point of order is that my question was about the carbon tax, not about the other support measures.


The SPEAKER —The member for Hasluck in asking his question referred to an Anglicare report, referred to the effect, as he believed, of a carbon tax and then concluded—and I have not written down the exact words, but they were something like ‘How could the Prime Minister restore the faith in her of electors?’—


Ms Julie Bishop interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is warned because she continues to just interject, not only on everything but on the chair. I am just trying to convey that I would like to see that cut out.


Ms Julie Bishop interjecting


The SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition should just be very, very careful about her approach. I have indicated that yes, the carbon tax was mentioned in the question along with other things and there was another conclusion to the question. The Prime Minister is responding to the question.


Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I think the member for Hasluck has learnt about taking advice from the member for Sturt.


The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will go back to the question.


Ms GILLARD —Coming to the question of a carbon price and electricity prices, which the member asked about, I have obviously addressed questions of assistance with cost-of-living pressures. We understand that it is tough for people. On the question of pricing carbon, of tackling climate change, I believe Australians want the people in this place to try and work together to tackle this issue in good faith, which is exactly what the government is trying to do through the creation of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. Of course, there is the option that, if the Leader of the Opposition diverts from his strategy of wrecking and looks to real reform, the opposition can participate in that committee and make a positive contribution to this nation tackling climate change.

I understand that the member for Hasluck, coming from Western Australia, would be genuinely concerned about electricity prices, because I know that there is a very big debate in Western Australia about increasing electricity prices and the pressures on families. As the member for Hasluck would be well aware, that is because of actions of the Liberal state government there in relation to electricity pricing. I want to quote the Western Australian Premier on what has caused him to take this action and what is putting pressure on electricity prices, because I believe the member for Hasluck may be interested in the insights of his Western Australian colleague, who says:

These increases have been coming for some time and, at the end of the day, I guess you know, we have to have a situation where the electricity industry pays its own way.

And, in relation to the circumstances in WA about which his government made decisions, Premier Barnett goes on to say, ‘And all of us for a whole set of reasons, a whole host of factors, are going to cop higher electricity prices.’ He says:

We also, as a community, tend to use a lot more electricity than we did in previous times, so that is part of it.

That is Premier Barnett on electricity price decisions of the Liberal government in Western Australia. I refer the member for Hasluck to those words, which obviously are about the need to reinvest in electricity generation. So, when it comes to cost pressures on working families, I understand that he wants to raise questions in this place; he may also want to raise questions with his WA Liberal colleagues.