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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9109

Carbon Pricing

Dr STONE (Murray) (14:46): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to Geoffrey Thompson Holdings, an apple and pear grower and cool-store operator in my electorate, whose latest electricity bills show a new item, carbon charges—I stress 'carbon charges'—of $23,000 for the month of July alone. This new carbon tax cannot be passed on and there is no compensation. How does this government expect a 60-year-old business to survive and the 400 regional jobs to be preserved?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:46): To the member who raises the question I say that, as the member would be aware, we have always said that in carbon pricing the price would be paid by the big polluters, there would be a flow-through impact on electricity pricing—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: The member yelling out is agreeing with me, I see. We have been very clear about what that impact would be and the modelling has been proved to be right. Small businesses are not required directly to pay the carbon price and are not required to fill in any additional forms. Unlike the paperwork burden that came their way with the Howard government's GST, they do not pay the carbon price, and they do not fill in additional forms. They will see some flow-through impacts for things like electricity prices, which is why we have put consumers in a position for them to pass that on. Consumers are there with their tax cuts, their family payment increases and their pension increases.

I would say to the member who asked the question: what has she said to this business about the large electricity prices—

Mr Randall: 'Vote Liberal.'

Ms GILLARD: She may well have said that, but I hope she has also said that the Leader of the Opposition today has now acknowledged that the biggest impact on electricity prices is not carbon pricing. Having finally moved from a position that everyone knew to be ridiculous—

Mr Abbott interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Leader of the Opposition is aware that he is not allowed to use that word.

Ms GILLARD: when he tried to pretend that all electricity price increases were somehow the fault of carbon pricing, he was repudiated by state Liberals, repudiated by this front bench, repudiated by the regulators. So today he has actually acknowledged that there are other sources of power price increases. What does the member, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, say to the small business involved about that?

I would be in a position to say that we will drive change at the Council of Australian Governments meeting at the end of this year. Is the member in a position to say that this Leader of the Opposition will get Ted Baillieu on the phone, Barry O'Farrell on the phone and Campbell Newman on the phone and say, 'It's about time that the Liberals worked with us to address these electricity price increases at the end of this year'?

Dr Stone: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I specifically, in the question, asked the Prime Minister to address what this company is going to be able to do—what she is going to tell them when the 400 jobs are lost.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Prime Minister is answering the question.

Ms GILLARD: I am not going to join the member in this fear campaigning. If she is genuinely interested in this business she would be looking at costs from all sources, including the bigger electricity costs flowing from sources other than carbon pricing. If she is not doing that, she is not serious about this business or the 400 jobs she is talking about, and I think her constituents would be very interested to know that she is not serious about 400 jobs in her electorate.

Dr Stone: I seek to present the bills, which identify the carbon charges for the month of July alone.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is leave granted?

Mr Albanese: No. When they get things tabled they do not table them.

Leave not granted.