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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8334

Senator JOHNSTON (Western Australia) (15:05): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong) to questions without notice asked today relating to a proposed carbon tax.

I have listened to the minister both in the committee stage and during question time today. The government is determined to have Australians believe that a carbon tax is, firstly, the best thing for our economy. It is also determined to tell us that a carbon tax is in the national interest, that a carbon tax is good for small business, that a carbon tax is great for households, that taking billions of dollars out of the Australian economy will help it grow and that giving billions of dollars to overseas countries for carbon credits is a good thing for our economy. This government has but one talent, but one capacity, and that is to say precisely the opposite of what in fact is the truth. All of those things are untrue.

The lack of honesty and integrity in this carbon tax flows from the very words by which it has had its genesis: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' This is the most notorious and dishonest statement ever heard in Australian politics. It sits right alongside 'We will have a regional processing centre in East Timor' and 'We will have a regional processing centre in Manus Island.' Economic forecast after economic forecast from this government has been completely and utterly false. Another is 'There will be a budget surplus in 2012-13.' Already the Treasurer, after having committed to it, is back-pedalling on this. This government has not delivered a surplus budget, and Labor governments have not delivered a surplus budget for more than 20 years. The minister has just fobbed off every single question—and I heard some very good questions today, including during question time—about particular industries. The minister stood and said, 'The government's modelling shows the Australian economy will continue to grow.' This is not about the individual industries that are devastated by this tax. This glib global statement is one that the minister has stuck to through thick and through thin. The meat industry question from Senator Williamson was very, very good. That industry is going to be devastated, and the minister just said, 'Oh, the government's modelling shows that this economy will continue to grow.' This is the fraud. This is the deception. This is the lack of honesty.

Of course, the minister will fight to the last breath not to disclose the assumptions upon which this crazy modelling has determined that the economy will continue to grow. Confronted with Minerals Council modelling, she said with an almost disdainful tone in her voice, 'Oh, that's Minerals Council modelling,' as if to say that they are all deniers and heretics and they should be crucified shortly. This minister is seeking to put through something that she knows is not good for the economy and is a huge fraud on the Australian public. One need go no further than her immortal words in 2009, when she said:

The introduction of a carbon price ahead of effective international action can lead to perverse incentives for such industries to relocate or source production offshore ...

These are her words. She continues:

... there is no point in imposing a carbon price domestically which results in emissions and production transferring internationally for no environmental gain.

This is the minister speaking. Yet she comes in here today with a completely flip-flop perspective. Her credibility is less than zero. She stands over there telling us homily after homily, lecturing us until the cows come home that this is good for us.

She herself has said that this is a shocking tax, that a price on carbon is going to kill jobs and kill our economy, and that it will just send all our manufacturing industries overseas—where they do not have such a crazy government with such a crazy policy. She said that, and she believed it at the time. What has happened? What has happened is that she has got into bed, as her government has, with the crazies at the end of this chamber—the Greens. That is what happened.