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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3103

Carbon Pricing

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that 11,900 shops in Westfield centres around Australia are now subject to a carbon or greenhouse gas emissions charge embedded in their leases. How can the Prime Minister continue to assert that only 500 businesses will pay her carbon tax when that is now so obviously and patently untrue?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:09): The Leader of the Opposition is referring to a press report this morning that raised this issue. I would like to refer the Leader of the Opposition to the newsletter of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, Shop Talk, which has gone out today and which says the following:

Some newspapers are today carrying an exclusive report quoting a retailer claiming that some shopping centre landlords are including a new lease provision passing on the effects of the new carbon tax to retailers.

The newsletter of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia goes on to say that the fact that this clause is actually several years old is clearly not referred to in that article. It goes on to explain that the fact that it is several years old is why it does not directly refer to a carbon tax. It then goes on to say that it was included in leases once debate began about the need for legislative action to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr Crean interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister for regional Australia will remain silent for the balance of this answer.

Ms GILLARD: The truth of this matter is that this clause has been in leases for several years. Obviously in the public policy debate there has been over many years a reference to dealing with greenhouse gases, none clearer or stronger than when the Howard government, of which the Leader of the Opposition was a senior member, went to the 2007 election on a platform of an emissions trading scheme and putting a price on carbon. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition, if he genuinely has some concern about people who lease shops in shopping centres and run small businesses, maybe he would like to support a tax cut for them. We do and the Leader of the Opposition does not. Maybe he would like to support an instant asset write-off for them. We do and the Leader of the Opposition does not. Maybe he would like to support a $5,000 benefit if they choose to purchase a motor vehicle. No, he is too busy doing what Clive Palmer tells him to do instead.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:11): Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Does the Prime Minister regret misleading the Australian people when she said that only 500 businesses would pay her carbon tax? And will she now apologise for saying before the election, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:12): As the Leader of the Opposition is well aware—and no amount of shouting in question time is going to change this truth—the carbon pricing legislation which went through the parliament has a direct carbon price paid by around 500 of the businesses that generate the most carbon pollution. The Leader of the Opposition knows that. What he also knows is that the scheme he peddles like snake oil to anyone who will listen has an effective carbon price of $62 a tonne. He might like to contemplate how those small businesses who are leaseholders in shopping centres would go by the time he had ripped off the tax cuts, family payments and pension increases, imposed on them a bill of $1,300 a year and made sure that those small businesses paid more tax.

Mr Abbott: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the lease carbon or greenhouse gas emission charges to which 11,900 businesses are now subject.

Leave not granted.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I ask myself who is going to be first today. It will not be the honourable member for Page, who has the call.