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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1639

Carbon Pricing

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. I refer to this email from the owners of Sydney Ice Arena and Erina Ice Arena in my electorate of Robertson, who state that the lifting of the carbon tax saved their business from imminent closure and, as a consequence, saved the jobs of their many staff. Will the minister outline what savings have been passed on to families and businesses in New South Wales since the government scrapped the world's biggest carbon tax? Are there any threats to these savings?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (15:03): I am delighted to receive this question from the member for Robertson, who is a member who voted to abolish the carbon tax, unlike every member of the opposition who voted to keep the carbon tax. The member for Robertson, though, is not just a legislator but also a great champion for small business. This is what the proprietors of the Sydney Ice Arena and the Erina Ice Arena in her electorate said.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left, including the member for Chifley.

Mr HUNT: I quote: 'In the two-year period during which the carbon tax operated, we were invoiced over $158,000 in carbon tax charges. Our business had to borrow the money to pay for the carbon tax and we will be paying for interest on this for years to come.'

Theirs was an experience felt right across New South Wales and Australia. In New South Wales alone, the electricity bills over the two years of the carbon tax amounted to $2 billion. That was $2 billion in higher electricity prices. For firms, what we saw when it was abolished was a reduction of up to nine per cent in their electricity prices. For households, it was a reduction of up to 10 per cent. To go back to what the proprietors said in their email to the member for Robertson, I again quote: 'I implore you to fight against any reintroduction of a tax, levy or carbon trading scheme which will increase our electricity charges again.'

That brings us to the question of a threat. There is a plan to bring back a massive new electricity tax. It is not ours; it is theirs. No good question time is complete without a quote from the great wordsmith, the member for Fraser. The member for Fraser, as we know, is a prolific author. He recently had an article in The Australian about the carbon tax. What was it that the member for Fraser said? I quote the headline from 27 January of this year: 'Pining for the good old carbon tax' by Andrew Leigh. He did not just plan and he was not even yearning; he was pining. It is the Norwegian Blue of public policy.

Dr Leigh interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Fraser will leave under 94(a).

The member for Fraser then left the chamber.

Mr HUNT: When it comes to their plans for the carbon tax, this year we will be focusing on questions for Bill. We want to know how much electricity prices will increase, when you will release your policy, how will the effects operate on individual families and what would be the cost? As we know, if it affects small businesses, it can have a real and profound impact. This year, it is questions for Bill. It is time for you to tell us how much you are going to slug families and businesses with in higher electricity prices. (Time expired)