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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8497


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (11:43): For all the words uttered by Labor on the carbon tax since the last election, for all the taxpayers' dollars spent by Labor on sleek advertising campaigns on the carbon tax, for all the hiring of Tony Blair's spin doctor and a propaganda unit to promote the carbon tax, Labor have not been able to overcome the fact that they made a solemn promise to the Australian people that there would be no carbon tax. Indeed, 88 per cent of senators here were elected on a promise of no carbon tax. Yet today, if the Green website—oozing as it does with hubris and arrogance—is any indication, the parliament will pass this package of Orwellianly-named bills.

So Australians have a right to ask how their wishes can be so betrayed. Australians should ask, because the answer is that the once great Labor Party has sold its policy soul to the Greens for the sake of staying in power. In short, the ALP has betrayed the working families of Australia—remember that phrase?—those families that struggle with cost-of-living pressures and with uncertainty about their job security. The vote by Labor senators later today will be the ultimate exhibition of that betrayal. If the carbon tax is such good policy, why did Labor not promise a carbon tax during the election? They denied their intentions. They deceived the electorate because they knew it was bad policy and, what is more, they knew that the Australian people knew that it was bad policy.

The ALP may take some comfort that GetUp! supports this act of betrayal of the Australian people, this act of economic and environmental vandalism, but GetUp! support is just like green jobs—for every one you get, you lose half-a-dozen traditional ones. That is why the Australian Labor Party today is haemorrhaging and deservedly so. Labor's traditional base knows that under this package electricity will go up by at least 10 per cent, three million households will be worse off, job security will diminish and real wages will be lower. No wonder Labor promised no carbon tax at the last election.

Just yesterday we learnt of the economic and environmental damage this package will do. In the heart of the Prime Minister's own electorate Coogee Chemicals have set aside their plans for a world-class methanol plant for Australia. With it 150 jobs are gone. With it $1 billion worth of investment is gone. With it $14 billion of exports are gone. Why? So we can have a cleaner planet? No, in fact so we can have a dirtier planet as the facility will no longer be built in Australia but in China, where the facility will have four times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions it would have had in Australia without a carbon tax.

Only the genius minds of this Labor Party could think of a scheme that destroys our economy, jobs and wealth whilst simultan­eously destroying the environment. But this carbon tax policy is just the latest instalment of Labor's successful economic-environ­mental policy mix. Think pink batts. Think green loans. Think solar panels. Think cash for clunkers. Who else could design a tax that will cost our economy $24 billion but still run at a loss over the forward estimates? With all these policy successes under their belt, the ALP now claim that their modelling shows we will all be better off. If they really believe we will all be better off with a $23-per-tonne tax on carbon dioxide emissions, I would urge them to double it or treble it because we will all be twice or three times better off. The Labor Party do not believe their own propaganda.

If they really think this dirty deal is such a good idea, why guillotine discussion in this most brazen of ways? The reason the Greens and the ALP are so anxious to cut debate short is that they know they have no moral authority from the public, from an electoral mandate. They know that countries like the USA, Canada, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, France and the other 19 of the G20 are all backing away. Indeed, they are adopting a direct action approach, exactly as the coalition suggested at the last election. As the international community turns its back on carbon taxes, so too do the Australian people. The Australian people remember what Senator Wong in her former manifestation told them: 'We know that you can't have any environmental certainty with a carbon tax;' 'A carbon tax does not guarantee emissions reductions;' 'I have been very upfront about why I think a carbon tax isn't the most sensible thing for Australia.' A carbon tax was a bad idea then. It remains a bad idea today. Minister Wong knew it. Labor knew it. The people know it. The international community know it. But the ALP will nevertheless recklessly vote this dirty deal through the Senate, a deal which is the grossest betrayal of an electoral mandate in Australian political history, a deal which is economically reckless, a deal which perversely is environmentally damaging, a deal which will increase the cost of living for everybody, a deal which will cost jobs, and a deal which the coalition opposes, a deal which the coalition will seek a mandate to throw out after the next election.

In opposing the bills we in the coalition are saying yes to restoring integrity to our democratic process. We are saying yes to job security. We are saying yes to easing the pressure on the ever-increasing cost of living for the long-forgotten working families of Australia. We are saying yes to a better way through our Direct Action Plan, which is now being replicated all over the world, from the United States to France, from the New Zealand to Japan, from Canada to South Korea. The next election will be the referendum that people were denied on the carbon tax. We will seek a mandate from the people at the next election and we will accept their verdict. The big question for Labor is: will they be willing to give the people a voice and, if so, will they accept the people's verdict? Will Labor serve the Australian people or the Australian Greens? The Australian people know where the coalition stands: we stand with them. With the support of the Australian people, we dedicate ourselves to the repeal of this dirty deal. (Time expired)

The CHAIRMAN: Before I call Senator Wong, I indicate that Senator Abetz was heard in relative silence and the same courtesy should be extended to Senator Wong.