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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8775

Senator CORMANN (Western Australia) (12:42): Over the last couple of years, the Labor government have gone out of their way to push up people's electricity prices. They have gone out of their way to push up the cost of electricity and the cost of living, because that was the whole point of the Labor-Greens carbon tax.

Senator Mason: It's the purpose of it.

Senator CORMANN: The whole purpose, the whole point, of the Labor-Greens carbon tax was to push up the cost of electricity, which in turn pushes up the cost of living, which pushes up the cost of doing business. And here we have this cynical political exercise where the Prime Minister, aided and abetted by the Labor and Greens senators, is trying to distract attention from the true reason why electricity prices across Australia are going up by more than they would have without a carbon tax.

In the Treasury modelling, the government said that electricity prices would go up by about 10 per cent over five years as a result of the carbon tax. Guess what: we have already gone past that! TD Securities from Melbourne released data recently which showed that, due to the introduction of a carbon tax from 1 July, the price of electricity rose by 14.9 per cent—and we are not even one year into the five years. Even this government, in Senate estimates, conceded that the carbon tax is one of the biggest drivers of increases in electricity prices. At a recent Senate estimates hearing, I asked Mr Morling, from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism:

What are the five biggest drivers of increases in electricity prices?

Mr Morling: It is probably best to look at it on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis. If you look at New South Wales, for example, the average price increased by around 18 per cent in 2011-12. If you break that down, about 8½ per cent was network costs, about nine per cent carbon costs, 1.2 per cent retail costs, 0.8 per cent wholesale energy costs and 0.3 per cent other green schemes costs.

I asked:

So the biggest driver of the ones you have just mentioned for increasing the cost of electricity is the carbon tax?

Mr Morling: The point has been made elsewhere that that was expected and it is slightly below—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Bernardi ): Order! Senator Cormann, it being 12:45 we now move on to government business, orders of the day. I inform the Senate there will be an opportunity to return to this debate after we have dealt with these lunchtime bills.