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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9106

Carbon Pricing

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (14:36): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statement of Pat Italiano, owner of Essendon Fruit Supply, in the electorate of Maribyrnong, who said, with regard to the carbon tax:

We are trying to absorb the costs as much as we can but it's a real slap in the face and it's making things much harder for us.

Can the Prime Minister explain to Mr Italiano and every other small business owner across Australia why they will not receive a cent of compensation for the world's biggest carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:36): To the member for Casey: it may be that the example he quotes was an example used in one of today's newspapers. I have seen some of those reports, and in some of those reports we have prices referred to, like tomatoes going up from $5 a kilo a couple of weeks ago to $8.99 a kilo now. I would say to this House and I would say to people reading those newspapers: if there is anyone in this country who is representing that that increase is anything to do with carbon pricing, then people should ring the ACCC and get that addressed because that is clearly wrong and meant to deceive and mislead.

For the real circumstances of small business, small businesses do not pay the carbon price. That is paid by the big polluters, who generate the most carbon pollution.

Ms Marino interjecting

Ms GILLARD: We have always said that some of those costs would be—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Forrest is warned.

Ms GILLARD: passed through to small businesses, particularly in the form of an increase in electricity, and we have talked very clearly with the Australian community about us predicting a 10 per cent increase in household electricity bills, for example—an increase of $3.30 a week on average—and that is why we have provided assistance of $10.10 a week on average. To the small business involved, I would therefore say that that small business is dealing with consumers who have received tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases because our anticipation was that small businesses would pass these modest price impacts on. When we are talking about modest price impacts, let's remember that the Treasury modelling, which has proved accurate on things like electricity prices, says that the impact overall will be 0.7 per cent of CPI—that is less than a cent in a dollar.

To the member, who may have a genuine concern about price impacts for this small business: I presume he is talking to them about the price impacts flowing from electricity increases that have absolutely nothing to do with carbon pricing. Now that the Leader of the Opposition has admitted that there are dramatic power price increases, nothing to do with carbon pricing, the member should feel empowered to have a frank conversation about the facts. You no longer have to go around pretending, in order to be loyal to the Leader of the Opposition, that this is all about carbon pricing. Today he has given the game away and he has pointed to the other sources of big power bills, and I trust the member who asked the question will do precisely that for the small business involved.