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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5575

Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (15:18): It is Groundhog Day on carbon price yet again in this place. Over and over again—every question time—we seem to go through this topic. But it is wearing very thin. Pleasingly, the opposition cannot score a point, because their scare campaign is now very tired. It is very convenient for those opposite simply to make the facts of this debate up. You do not rely on the facts; you are simply misleading the Australian public with your scare campaign, as Senator McKenzie's discredited question showed when clearly exposed by Senator Wong's answer. The political tactic that the opposition has displayed is taking a multitude of price rises across the Australian economy that are due to any number of different factors and blaming them all on the price on carbon. It happens day in and day out.

You even put it in your pamphlets to the Australian public. Here I have a letter from Mr Michael Keenan, the member for Stirling. He talks about electricity prices going up by 66 per cent. And then he goes 'plus carbon tax'. What does 'plus carbon tax' actually mean? That 66 per cent is Colin Barnett, who has driven up Western Australia's electricity prices. That is the penalty that Western Australians are paying.

Do you really want to know what price rises under the carbon price look like? You can talk about what genuine price increases actually mean. Let's talk about genuine price increases. I was very pleased last week to be talking to Mr Adam McHugh, who is a Murdoch University researcher and economist, and he has been looking at the mathematical modelling that looks at price rises. We were talking about pies before, were we? Let's take pies and, perhaps, birthday cakes. Let's take birthday cakes, which clearly are something we like to use as a political example. Our national accounts data show the prices in 1,200 commodities, so you can drill right down to the ingredients of a birthday cake, just as Mr McHugh has done, to legitimately look at what price rises actually can be attributed to the carbon price. To be honest, it is very similar to what the ACCC has to do when it looks at whether companies are legitimately passing on price increases that are related to a carbon price or they are price increases that should be attributed to other increases in costs.

What did Mr McHugh find? He looked into the inputs of a birthday cake. He did a complete life cycle assessment of a birthday cake. He went right through the supply chain of a birthday cake. What did it add up to? For a $25 birthday cake, what was the prince increase? It was a massive 10c.

Senator Ludlam interjecting

Senator PRATT: Yes, Senator Ludlam, you were there at that very briefing and know that it was just 10c. I suggest that senators in this place get a grip on what the real cost increases of carbon pricing are. When I say this is wearing thin, it is indeed wearing thin. Do you know why? Because the Australian public—after a very sustained scare campaign, which many people have been susceptible to—is actually starting to wise up. As of 1 July, you can see the reality of what price increases relating to the carbon price are starting to look like.

When it comes to the issue of carbon, I am very proud of the leadership that our Prime Minister has shown on this question. I am very proud of the policy focus that we have taken because it shows that the leadership that we have taken on carbon is indeed in the national interest. The questioning by those opposite of the Prime Minister and her leadership has been absurd. As Minister Evans highlighted, we are about being focused on our government's agenda. (Time expired)