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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5576


Senator BOYCE (Queensland) (15:23): There is certainly something wearing very thin around the nation, and it is the patience of the Australian people with this inept government. It is wearing thinner and thinner as time goes on. When I speak to my constituents, to manufacturers and to other people who create jobs, they actually talk about something else before they mention the carbon tax, and that is the desperate need for an election in this country. That is the first thing they want to talk about. Their patience is wearing very, very thin.

But let us talk about the fact that we are today—'celebrating' is certainly the wrong word—looking at the second anniversary of the current Prime Minister's broken promise on carbon tax: the fact that a government that she led would never, ever introduce a carbon tax. Yet, here we are with problems developing from it. I must admit that I cannot help but be completely bemused by the comments made by Senator Wong in answer to the questions put to her or by the comments made just then by Senator Pratt, which is that a birthday cake goes up by 10c so the carbon tax is all right. Refrigerant gas will lead to a 0.4 per cent cost increase for a household over a year, and that is all right. Electricity prices have gone up by 50 per cent and will rise further, and that is all right. So what we have is increment after increment, and that is desperately affecting everyone in this country.

If Senator Furner managed to get out of town a bit, he would know that it is not just fruit and vegetable growers who are very concerned about the rise in refrigerant costs. Graziers in western and northern Queensland and the fishing and prawning fleets of far northern Queensland are also terrified about what is happening with refrigerant gas price increases and all the other imposts that are building up one after the other, after the other because of this government's carbon tax. Senator Pratt appears to want to claim that every price increase is the problem of a Liberal premier and that all the good events are to be sheeted home to the Labor Prime Minister. Unfortunately, you cannot have it that way. You have to take some responsibility for the results of your actions, or lack of them in the case of this government.

Let us look at the CEO forum that has been happening in Parliament House over the last few days. The Australian heads of over 100 international companies are talking about how they feel about this government. Of the 150 chief executives who have been in Parliament House this week, 60 per cent of them say that they are dismayed by Canberra's increased policy uncertainty; 45 per cent of them say that they are less likely to invest in Australia in the future. They claim that their biggest problem of all is this policy uncertainty and what the heck is going on with this carbon tax. The biggest issue of the lot for 36 per cent of those executives is the carbon scheme. They make the point that, until they have some certainty from this government, they cannot proceed.

How can you have certainty with a government that has been cobbled together with the Greens, who want the carbon tax to be put at such unrealistic levels that it would destroy manufacturing and business in Australia? This government is led by a woman who, two years ago, promised that no government that she was involved in would ever have a carbon tax. We cannot have any faith whatsoever that this situation is not going to get worse and worse. One of the other big concerns of foreign executives is that, if this government is to proceed with the carbon tax, why on earth won't they look at some sort of equivalent market price? (Time expired)

Question agreed to.