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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 364

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (16:49): Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to start by saying what a great pleasure it is to be standing before you today as a member of the Abbott government representing the wonderful people of Darwin and Palmerston. I will again try and represent everybody in the fantastical cities of Darwin and Palmerston. I look forward to delivering on the election commitments that the Country Liberals, as part of the coalition, made during the election campaign. I would also like to welcome all the newcomers to this place and particularly the new member for Dobell, who sits next to me. She is a very good member. I wish them all the very best and I urge them to make good use of their time here, because we never know how long it will be. Being a politician is the ultimate community service. Whether it is helping a constituent with an immigration issue, providing pension advice, liaising between a local business and a government department or burning a sausage at a community barbecue, there is no other job like being a member of parliament.

The Abbott government was elected with a bold vision for change. The first change was to introduce to the parliament yesterday legislation that will see the repeal of the carbon tax. The coalition government will legislate to ensure that power prices in the Northern Territory come down to levels equivalent to what they were when the tax began in 2012. In Solomon, the carbon tax has increased electricity costs by around 10 per cent over the past two years, an unacceptable impost on hardworking families and business operators in the Northern Territory. Obviously, electricity is an essential service used by all Territorians. But in the build-up to and in the hot humid wet season months there is another essential to life, and that is air-conditioning. Recently, my office spoke to the operator of a Darwin air-conditioning company, who said that the cost of replacing the refrigerant gas in a domestic air-conditioner had increased from around $25 a kilo to around $100 a kilo since the carbon tax kicked in.

Another essential to living life in the Territory is ice. We use it in our eskies and at our barbecues. It is something that people use all the time in trying to keep drinks and other things cool. One of the largest ice suppliers in the Territory is NT Ice, in Berrimah. Its operator, Michael Goonan, tried to absorb the price increase that resulted from the hike in electricity prices caused by the carbon tax. He even installed a 24-kilowatt solar system for $50,000. His applications for assisted government funding were knocked back by the same Labor government that introduced the carbon tax to encourage alternative energy use. After all that, he still had to put up his price for a bag of ice. So it is a double hit that affected his business and ordinary Territorians who wanted ice for their weekend barbecues.

Michael makes a very good point: the carbon tax is a sneaky tax because its exact cost is not outlined on the quarterly or monthly power bills. This makes it hard for consumers to see its actual impact on their cost of living. The GST, on the other hand, is all there for us see. He also points out that the impact of the carbon tax on the competitiveness of Australian businesses is of concern. He has this message for Territory Labor politicians who want to keep the tax, including the member for Lingiari, Mr Snowdon, and the new senator Senator Peris. He says they need to consider the capacity of Australian businesses to compete in a global market in this day and age. He says charges like the carbon tax prevent Australian businesses from moving forward and producing quality products at a market price that will be competitive overseas. He says countries are importing goods into Australia because imposts like the carbon tax make us less competitive and this has a snowball effect: less manufacturing, fewer jobs and less wealth to share around.

Business operators like Michael Goonan can see the inherent dangers of applying an unnecessary handbrake to the Australian economy. It is a pity that those over on that side of the House, the Labor Party, cannot also see them. I say: scrap the carbon tax immediately. That is what those on those on the other side need to do. They need to side with us and agree to scrap the carbon tax.