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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4947


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (15:19): What we see here again today is the opposition coming up with this fantastic tactic of opposition-attacks-government. It is all that they have got in this place. They have no policies or ideas, despite 2015 being declared by the Leader of the Opposition as 'the year of ideas'. Here we are in August, and what ideas have we seen? Nothing. Nothing but that tried-and-true tactic of Labor opposition attacking the government—'Attack, attack!'

Australians are not fooled by taking words out of context and trying to turn them into something that they are not. Australians know that that is just another trick by Labor whereby they are trying to be too clever by half. Telling Australians that A is B so, therefore, B must be A just does not cut it. Australians are not going to be fooled. They are too clever and they are not going to let that one go through and convince them of anything that is not the truth.

The real issue in this place is good governance, not the overly clever extrapolation of a few words into something that means something quite different. But those few ideas that Labor do have, or have demonstrated, are things that Australians should be scared of. Most recently, at the Australian Labor Party's federal council, they announced their new carbon tax policy. This new formally-adopted policy is nothing other than a supercharged version of their carbon tax, and Labor's own modelling confirms this. Treasury's modelling shows that Labor's carbon tax will need to rise to $209 a tonne by 2030—that is almost 10 times the level that it stood at under Julia Gillard, who pledged that there would be no carbon tax under a government that she led.

Further, Australia's GDP would be $633 billion lower, cumulatively, between 2015 and 2030 on the basis of Labor's supercharged carbon tax, according to Treasury analysis. Wholesale power prices would go up a whopping 78 per cent—that is a 78 per cent increase in wholesale power prices. We all know, and Australians know, that the cost of energy—the cost of their electricity bills, the cost of their gas bills—is a major cost to Australia's household budgets. The increases in electricity and energy costs are a major concern to many, many households right across Australia.

The Leader of the Opposition's carbon tax will see tens of thousands of jobs lost if it is implemented. Power bills will skyrocket, wages will be—again, according to Treasury—six per cent lower in real terms and cumulative economic output will be well over half a trillion dollars weaker. This is coming from the opposition who, during question time today, sought to attack us over jobs.

Senator Lines made some comments earlier when she took note of answers by ministers, and, may I say, her comments did nothing other than to underline the 'economic illiteracy'—to quote Senator Cameron—of the Labor Party. Her comments demonstrated that the Labor Party fail to have any knowledge whatsoever about how an economy works or about the use of economic statistics. She was talking about the number of people receiving unemployment benefits having gone up. What that shows is the number of people who are out there actively seeking work. As we all know, in order to receive unemployment benefits there are requirements to be actively seeking work. But at any given time there are people out there who could be working who are not actively seeking jobs. There are a range of reasons for that, one of which is that they do not think they are going to get one and so they think there is no point in going to the effort of actively seeking jobs. Just in the last month there has been a massive increase in the participation rate, which means that a lot of those people who were not looking for jobs have now decided that they have enough confidence in the economy to get out of their houses and go out and start looking for a job. That adds to the number of people who are on unemployment benefits, but it is also a reflection of increasing confidence in the economy. This is demonstrated by the fact that if you removed from the equation the increase in the participation rate of the last month and looked at the participation rate of a month ago, the unemployment rate today would be 5.9 per cent. That is an absolute, simple fact. If the participation rate were the same as last month, when there were fewer people looking for jobs, there would be fewer unemploymentbenefit recipients, and that would mean the unemployment rate would be lower. It is a simple economic fact.