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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6323

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (16:45): I rise to talk on this matter of public importance because I think the public does have a right to know exactly what is going on here. What we know is that this government is being very coy with the facts. Let us remember it was this Prime Minister who said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'—a solemn promise that she made to all Australians at the last election. Here we have less than a month until we have a carbon tax. This is a government that is spending $270,000 a day—$36 million—on advertisements about the carbon tax. It talks about the cash bribes but does not actually mention what they are about, but the public knows it is all about the world's biggest carbon tax, Labor's toxic carbon tax.

Everyone knows that Labor's toxic carbon tax will cascade right through the economy, and that is why Labor are desperately out there spending up and calling it compensation. Despite Labor's lie that only the big emitters will pay the price, the cost of virtually everything will go up and up and up. We know it is not just the big emitters; it is everyday Australians who will pay the price for the carbon tax. Like many Australians, I am very concerned about the increases in electricity, petrol prices and the council rate increases that Territorians and, indeed, all Australians will face from 1 July because of the Gillard Labor government's carbon tax, which will cause us to have the world's highest electricity prices.

Australian household electricity prices have already increased by 40 per cent since 2007 and are predicted to go up by at least another 10 per cent in the first year of the carbon tax. Fact No. 1: Territorians will be slugged more for electricity because Power and Water, our only electricity provider, was included on the carbon tax hit list. It is considered one of Australia's biggest polluters, providing electricity to 200,000 plus people. From 1 July Territory families will be slugged on average an extra $2.61 a week for electricity under the carbon tax. Territorians will clearly be worse off under the carbon tax, and the carbon tax compensation being handed out will not be enough for many families.

The government's own figures indicate that thousands of Territorian households will be worse off under the carbon tax. Their own figures indicate that 40 per cent of Australians will not receive compensation. Let me share some examples with you. Tiffany V, a constituent of mine, last week told my staff she received a text message to say that she has had $69.35 paid into her account as part of the household assistance payment. This is her quote: 'Honestly, Labor Party, that tiny amount going in to help with your carbon tax? Stop kidding yourselves.' She then went on to say that her latest power bill jumped by $250, her most expensive bill yet—and the carbon tax is not even there.

We all know that the carbon tax will act as the wrecking ball across the Territory economy and Territorians will be paying for it through increased prices, higher energy bills and pressure on local businesses that are already experiencing high cost of living pressures.

I have spoken in this place many times about petrol and how this carbon tax is a tax on remoteness. Everything in the Northern Territory is freighted in. We are completely and utterly dependent on freight and freight companies. Everything from fruit, veg and general groceries to building materials is transported into the Territory by road, rail or air. There is a lot of this freight that comes in by diesel road trains, and we all know that that will be affected by the carbon tax. This toxic tax is definitely a tax on remoteness.

Do not take my word for it. I have a letter here from Toll, which is putting Territorian customers on notice that freight costs are likely to go up because of the carbon tax. This is not going to be a good thing for Territorians. Our cost of living is already high, and Territorians tell me every day that they do not support a carbon tax. They tell me that a carbon tax will not do anything for the environment. It will only push up cost of living pressures—something that Territorians are already struggling with.

Lyn, another constituent of mine, says she is worried about the electricity and whether she will be able to afford the increase of $2.61 a week under the carbon tax. She is married with no children and will not receive any compensation. I have also heard from Palmerston residents Megan and Scott Smith, who have three children, a mortgage and a dog. They have done the figures, and the carbon tax compensation that they get will not cover their costs. They tell me they already forgo meat on a regular basis because it is too expensive, so any further cost increases will be detrimental to them. Then there are John and Sarah, who are a single-income family with two children under five from the northern suburbs. They have worked out that the compensation simply will not be enough to outweigh the extra costs that they will be hit with. Their household salary is $85,000. Or there is northern suburbs construction worker Clint and his public servant wife. They have one son, a mortgage and two dogs, and they are a typical family. Combined income for them is $130,000 a year, so they are not eligible for any carbon tax compensation. Fishing is their favourite family pastime, but they fear that it may be jeopardised because of the carbon tax and the extra increases in fuel. They do not consider themselves rich; they consider themselves average, hardworking Territorians who want a fair go, and they want to be properly compensated by this government. They do not want a carbon tax.

Every day I am told how people in my electorate are worried about meeting their home loan repayments and that the Gillard Labor government is now making people pay more for energy, fuel and food because of the Prime Minister's carbon tax lie. Hardworking families are already doing it tough. How are they going to budget for another few hundred dollars in their spending?

What about small business? Small business is, as we know, the engine room of our economy. The Territory's small business operators are worried that this toxic carbon tax will spell the end for them. Small businesses will receive no compensation for the carbon tax, and they are in the firing line with average weekly cost increases of $15.80 from the carbon price and $13.38 through an increase in power and water charges. Of course, small businesses will be forced to pass on these added expenses to the consumer, and the business owners tell me that they are burdened by a drop in consumer spending.

This government does not understand that, if businesses are hit by the carbon tax, of course they will have to pass it on, and that that means everyday Territorians will be paying extra for electricity, food and fuel under a carbon tax. I have spoken to private airline operators, builders, building equipment suppliers, fish-and-chip shop owners, grocers, butchers, florists and market stall owners, and they have all told me the same thing: this tax will make their costs go up and they will have to pass on these costs to everyday Territorians.

I was very concerned to hear that this tax will be the final nail in the coffin of some businesses. A few weeks ago, a local business operator who employs 13 people and who earns around $85,000 a year wrote to me saying that Julia Gillard's 'lie' will hurt his business. He is 59 years old, and his wife is 70. She cannot receive a pension because he works, yet, like most Territorian families, they still have a mortgage. He wanted to know why he was not eligible for the welfare gift, and he is angry that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan consider him to be rich. He told me that he does not know how he will manage his operating costs or how he and his wife will survive. These are real-life Territory examples of people who are doing it tough and who are genuinely concerned about the Gillard Labor government's carbon tax promise.

As I have said time and time again in this place, families will be better off under a coalition government because we will remove the carbon tax and deliver real tax cuts. Only a coalition government will give Australia hope, reward and opportunity, because we on this side of the House do not support a carbon tax. Only a coalition government will deliver to Australians an Australia free of a carbon tax.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms O'Neill ): Order! The discussion has concluded.