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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 9889

Clean Energy Future Plan

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (15:04): My question is to the Minister for Human Services and for Social Inclusion. Will the minister inform the House how the government intends to deliver assistance for households under the clean energy future plan? How has this been received? What is the government's response?

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Social Inclusion and Minister for Human Services) (15:04): The government understands that, despite the Australian economy being the envy of the world, there are some families who are feeling the pinch and, though parents want a low-pollution future for their kids and grandkids, they need to balance the family budget today. That is why, while we are talking about our clean energy future, we are also talking about household assistance that will be available for Australian families.

Just as age pensioners, disability pensioners, carers and others will receive household assistance, so too will families who are receiving family payments. For those families, carbon price assistance will be paid as a separate supplement through Centrelink. Eligible recipients will not have to fill in any forms; they are going to get that benefit automatically into the bank account, the same way the family payments are paid. Our household assistance package will ensure that families have that money in their pockets before the carbon price takes effect. Every family payment recipient will receive some or all of their first year's assistance up-front through a lump-sum payment, the clean energy advance. This advance will be paid by Centrelink between May and June next year, before the carbon price is implemented on 1 July 2012.

On top of that, every taxpayer earning under $80,000 a year will get a tax cut from 1 July next year. So in the electorate of Corangamite, 50,000 taxpayers will receive a tax cut and more than 40,000 people will receive additional income support or family assistance payments. What that means for a typical family—say, mum, dad, and three children aged four, seven and nine—is that if dad is earning $52½ thousand a year and mum is working part time and earning $17½ thousand a year, a total of $75,000 a year, the family will get $332 extra in government payments and $982 as a tax cut. So, in total, that family receives around $1,300 a year extra. That is $700 a year on top of any expected price impact on that family. That $700 a year extra can go towards buying energy efficient appliances, just as an example of something that family could do to further lessen any price impacts on them. That is a very stark contrast to those opposite, who not only want to claw back that $1,300 of assistance, not only want to rip back that tax cut and those family assistance increases, but actually want to slug that family an extra $1,300 a year to subsidise big polluters. They want to take money from that family—tax dollars that could be used on education, health, training, roads or whatever it may be—and subsidise the big polluters.

We have a month of debate ahead of us. Nobody really believes that the Leader of the Opposition needs a month to make up his mind. We know that he has already made up his mind and that what is coming is a big fat no on this. In fact, that is why people have started calling the Leader of the Opposition the minus sign of Australian politics—whenever you put him into the equation, the result is a negative.