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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1792

Carbon Pricing

Mr NIKOLIC (Bass) (14:19): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. I remind the minister that Qantas paid $106 million and Virgin Australia $47.9 million in carbon tax last year. Will the minister inform the House how all Australians will benefit from the removal of this impost on domestic aviation?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:19): I particularly want to acknowledge the member for Bass, who, as a former head of the Australian Parachute Training School, knows more than a little bit about aviation.

An honourable member: He knows planes that don't work.

An honourable member: He knows when to get off!

Mr HUNT: He knows his way in and out of a plane! This question comes on a day on which a thousand job losses in the aviation sector have been announced. A thousand job losses were announced by Qantas before question time today. So the Australian aviation sector is clearly a sector under real pressure. In Qantas's annual report of 2013, released the day before the election, they acknowledged:

The introduction of the carbon tax drove up operating expenses by $106 million.

The Virgin Australia annual report of 27 September 2013 said:

The company was also impacted by the carbon tax during the 2013 financial year, with a $47.9 million cost of which we were unable to recover …

Mr Shorten: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I spoke to Alan Joyce an hour ago—

The SPEAKER: This is not a point of order.

Mr Shorten: The carbon tax has nothing to do with it. Stop politicising job losses. Shame on you!

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat! That behaviour from the Leader of the Opposition is totally unacceptable. He can consider himself warned.

Mr HUNT: These costs are real—$106 million in the case of Qantas and a $47 million hit in the case of Virgin airlines, which they themselves said in their own annual report they were unable to recover. Those opposite can sit there in denial, but the costs are real. It goes on: Air Ambulance Victoria was hit with a $205,000 carbon tax cost. The costs are real. This is not surprising, because from the other side we get statements such as this from the member for Port Adelaide:

… Labor supports terminating the carbon tax.

We have the member for Wakefield saying:

I think we should abstain in the Senate, allow the Abbott government to implement its policies …

Senator Mark Bishop said:

The strong public position of the ALP prior to the election and in the election was completely rebuffed by the electorate.

What did the chairperson of Rex Aviation said when Rex had to face this? He said:

However, there is little we can do when the Federal Government—

he was talking about the ALP—

appears to be hell-bent on destroying regional aviation and along with it, pretty much the rest of the economy.

We can fix aviation, but get out of the way.