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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9100

Carbon Pricing

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:14): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer her to the letter I have here from Australian Country Choice. It indicates that the company is now paying a carbon charge of an extra 38 per cent for peak electricity and an extra 86 per cent for off-peak electricity. That is an extra $10,400 a week because of the introduction of the carbon tax. Why aren't businesses like this one being compensated for the Prime Minister's broken promise that, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:15): In answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question, he has had a bit of a morning this morning. He has not only gone out and threatened to cut every public school in this country; he has finally come clean on electricity prices. He has said today that it is true that the carbon tax is not the only factor in the dramatic rise in power prices. It was a complete backflip compared with his statement in the run-up to parliament that everything else except carbon pricing was apparently a furphy. So the Leader of the Opposition has finally smacked into the reality that state Liberals do not agree with him, experts do not agree with him, the regulators do not agree with him and members of his own team do not agree with him. He has finally come clean that, yes, the dramatic increases in power prices are not about carbon pricing but are about other actions. So, for the small business—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The member for Mackellar on a point of order.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: In her wildest dreams that is not directly relevant to the question as asked. The question was directly on the carbon tax—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will resume her seat.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar is warned! Abuse of points of order has gone too far and will not be tolerated. The Prime Minister is answering the question. There were a range of issues canvassed in the question. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: And of course the level of abuse is always correlated with their lack of ideas.

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will be relevant to the question.

Ms GILLARD: Now the Leader of the Opposition has admitted that it is the actions of state governments and others—it is factors beyond carbon pricing—that have led to dramatic increases in power prices. To his question and to the business he talks about: presumably he will get that business on the phone and say that he, the Leader of the Opposition, now understands that that business—

Mr Robb interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Goldstein is warned!

Ms GILLARD: That business would have seen a 50 per cent increase in their power prices, and it is nothing to do with carbon pricing. Presumably he has explained that to them, now that the penny has dropped.

Presumably he would also explain to them that the impact on electricity prices is exactly as the government predicted it. That means that small businesses are in a position to pass those costs through, because they are dealing with consumers who have had the benefit of tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases.

If the Leader of the Opposition were genuinely concerned about the circumstances of this business, instead of continuing his reckless fear campaign he would be working with the government, now that he has admitted he was wrong in the run-up to parliament and that there are other factors causing the rapid escalation in electricity prices, and would be instructing his state Liberal colleagues to do the same so that they come to December COAG ready to act on electricity prices. That is what he would do if he were interested in anything else except the reckless fear campaign.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is the Leader of the Opposition seeking to table a document?

Mr Abbott: An 86 per cent increase in power prices entirely as a result of the carbon—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition needs to follow the rules given by the chair—and the Manager of Opposition Business has indicated that there is no leave to be granted.