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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11614


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (17:08): I rise today to support my colleagues from Wannon and Macarthur and to talk about the adverse impact of the government's changes to the carbon tax on Australia's economy. The simple fact is that the government has made eight changes to the carbon tax in the last 100 days, since 1 July. It highlights how fundamentally flawed its carbon pricing system is. The government has shifted the goalposts eight times on the Australian people. This directly affects Australian industries, Australian jobs and Australian businesses.

In my electorate alone, which we call the carbon capital of Australia, there are industries struggling as I speak. It is no good saying, 'You are rumour-mongering; you are not confident' et cetera. There are jobs being lost as I speak—95 jobs from the Boyne smelter alone—as a direct result of the carbon tax. One week after the carbon tax was announced, Rio Tinto, the third largest miner in the world, put their Boyne smelter up for sale. It is now owned by Pacific Aluminium. Isn't that an indication that companies are concerned? Rio Tinto alone employ 6,000 people in Gladstone and a lot more in Perth. They are worried about it. They have spoken to me directly and no doubt they have spoken to the government about their business going forward.

Those opposite said that it was all going to stop on 1 July—what a load of poppycock! What did the government think was going to happen on 1 July? Did they think the whole world was going to stop because Australia introduced a carbon tax? Of course not. It is only now, when electricity bills are rolling in, that people are saying: 'Whoa, hang on, what is going on here? Tony Abbott was right.' It is affecting industry and it is affecting household costs. It is affecting the cost of living in my town and across Australia. Those opposite thought it was all going to stop on 1 July. How naive, how stupid. How can they have thought that? What do we do now with companies across Australia? Do we credit some? Do we take credits back? In relation to the car industry, we will exempt people's personal cars but we will hit the farmers down the track on fuel. Some aluminium companies have got credits and some have not. The aluminium companies in my town do not have the credits that some other companies have. These credits diminish over time but of course the carbon tax will go up next year and in the years after that.

It is a time for leadership and stability in an increasingly uncertain global environment. By shutting down industries in Australia and transporting them overseas to China or wherever, we are still not going to decrease global emissions. In some cases, we will actually increase global emissions. Those opposite talk about LA and California. When I was last in California, Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong—all self-funded trips, by the way—I never saw the sun, and I was in those places for quite some time. As I move around my home state of Queensland, the skies are blue and the seas are green, yet we have to be the first in the world with this monstrous carbon tax—$400 per person versus $1 per person in Europe. We have to cop it and our industries have to cop it. Is it any wonder that Australian companies are moving offshore at a very fast rate?

When you put mining taxes on top of carbon taxes, it is sometimes the last straw. Is the government aware that, in Mongolia alone, 171 Australian companies operate in the mining field? We have become very good at transporting our expert mining personnel offshore to countries like Mongolia, Indonesia and Africa. There are over 250 Australian companies with Australian staff and Australian expertise in the mines in those countries looking at their resources and helping them with their economy. They have given up on Australia; they have walked away. How much longer can this go on? How much longer can we keep taxing Australian companies out of existence?

Unfortunately, BHP and Rio Tinto are not Australian companies any more. They are worldwide companies and they will go to the country which offers the best deal. What are we going to do? We have our manufacturing industries reeling; we have our retail businesses not functioning very well. They are all squealing out for help, and yet we sit here and tax them more. If we start taxing our banks and start looking to tax superannuation funds, where are we going to end up as a nation? Mr Murray, the former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, summed it up last week when he said that if we keep this up we will end up like Greece. It just goes on and on and on.

The South Australian government has said that if a carbon tax is extinguished by Tony Abbott's government, the price of electricity will definitely come down. That is the Labor government in South Australia who said that. The eight changes that have been made here suggest that the government did not think the carbon tax through at all and that it had to make some rapid changes. But it does not give certainty. We have not built a power station in a long, long time—whether it was gas or coal—because we are going to close the brown coal power stations in Victoria. Now there has been a change of heart and they are going to be kept going. The power station in Gladstone, which is coal fired, is at sixes and sevens and does not know what to do, because there is no future in coal. Bob Brown told the Labor Party that there is no future for coal fired power stations. What are we going to do? 'Oh, we we'll go to gas.' That did not work out either. We were going to go to nuclear and that did not work out. So, what are we going to do?

This country was built on cheap electricity and cheap water, but under this Labor government we have neither of them. If we are going to become a food-producing country again, we are going to have to give our farmers cheap water, and we will have to supply our industries with power at a reasonable cost.

We had the Canadian ambassador talking to the government here saying that Canada is not going to move on any carbon tax or any emissions system until America moves. The last time I did a count, there were over 50 states in America. Does one state in America mean that the whole American nation is going to move? I do not think so. One in 50 or one in 51—I would not base anything on that—but the Labor government mentioned LA today. They are going ahead, but to what extent we do not know. I am concerned about what is happening in my patch in Flynn and about what happens to Australian industries. We cannot keep killing them by taxing, taxing and taxing. This government has a set of rules, so keep to it. As a final example, there were 250 big polluters, then it was 300, then it was 315. What will it end up with? There is only one answer to all this: scrap the tax. (Time expired)