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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5571


Senator BACK (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:03): I move:

That the Senate take note of answers given by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research (Senator Evans) and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong) to questions without notice asked by Opposition senators today relating to the carbon tax.

We just saw the most lamentable circumstance in this chamber this afternoon when the leader of the Labor Party in this place, Senator Evans, in response to a question from Senator Abetz, made the statement that the coalition has no interest in the big policies of the day. Is it the case then that when there are lies from a Prime Minister they are of no interest to the community—that being, 'there will be no carbon tax under a government that I lead'? And when is it that a policy as profound as a carbon dioxide tax is of no interest to the Australian community?

Is this government so far removed from the mood of the Australian people that in fact when their own members and their own candidates started doorknocking, even in their own areas of interest, they found they had to stop doorknocking simply because so many in the electorate are so angry with them about what Senator Evans dismisses as being events of no policy interest? Is it little wonder that none of the members are using either the Labor brand or the Labor colours? I refer to the advertisement recently by Ms Melissa Parke in Fremantle, one seat which once would have been seen as a safe seat in Western Australia, when she did not even mention the word 'Labor' or the Labor brand in her electioneering campaigning.

It is interesting, isn't it, that Mr Paul Henderson, in the Northern Territory, and Mr Mark McGowan, in Western Australia, have no interest in this Prime Minister coming to either the Territory or to WA to support them in their forthcoming election campaigns. It is absolutely amazing, the fact that the polls show what the Labor Party know—and maybe they should start doorknocking again so that they can get some genuine feedback from the electorate. What they will learn is that the community is very, very interested in the big policies of the day, including the carbon dioxide tax. And they will also be interested in knowing that Australians are embarrassed by a Prime Minister who cannot tell the truth.

For example, we have heard from the government time and again about compensation for many in this community for the $23 per tonne carbon tax and its effect on energy. We heard from Senator Humphries here today what that impact is going to be on the community in the ACT, and clearly many of them have not been compensated. But what the Prime Minister did not say to the Australian community is what happens in the second and in subsequent years. If they got compensated this year, when the carbon tax is $23 a tonne, what is going to happen next year when it jumps to $25, and then $27 and even $40 a tonne—if, indeed, this government remained in power before a coalition government came in and disbanded this carbon tax? How many people have been told what the compensation will be next year? Already we know from our electorates around Australia that those people who were compensated have spent those funds and have not yet faced the payment of those increased power bills.

We heard from Senator McKenzie in her question to Senator Wong, who was very, very scant in her efforts to answer it, about what is happening to those involved in the storage of any refrigerated goods—be that fruit storage, meat storage or whatever. We have heard the horrific prices now being charged to abattoir owners and meat processors as a result of the increased power charges. What about the businesses who are already being affected by this carbon dioxide tax? I note even the term 'carbon tax'. Senator Sterle would be wise to stop and listen, because he too is well aware of the cost impost on the trucking industry—one which he used to proudly represent in this chamber. But, of course, he wants to leave so that he does not have to answer his own colleagues from the trucking industry on what the costs are.

Exporters are now facing competition overseas from suppliers who are not subject to this carbon tax. Our own import-competing businesses all of a sudden have a chain around their necks because cheap imports are not subject to this carbon dioxide tax. The vehicle-manufacturing industry, which received such generous subsidies from this government, is having an impost of some $400 per vehicle placed on it. Already 800,000 of the million cars that are bought each year are imported. Where is the logic in turning around and imposing that tax? In my final few seconds, I refer to the magnetite iron ore industry in Western Australia, decimated by this tax. (Time expired)