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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8394


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (18:12): I want to place on record how much I object to the way this opposition continues to try and use quite a clear reference to China constantly in this debate and in the economic policy debate. What we saw from your leader and Mr Hockey on the IMF was outright xenophobia. The debate that you engage in in relation to carbon, which constantly goes on about China and India, I think is beneath you. You may as well join One Nation. Seriously! I and other senators in this place who have very clear views on this are really tired of this debate. I do not agree with you, Senator Nash, in your policy on climate. I disagree; I think it is wrong, but I respect that that is your position. I do not respect the way you continue to reference goods made in China and pollution in China. What world do you think we live in? It is just extraordinary.

I also make the point that the senator dismissed the stimulus package and the household component of that. The advice from Treasury, which Dr Henry has referenced, was to ensure that there was an early stimulus in the household sector. That was a key aspect of the government's stimulus package which kept this country out of recession and which ensured that some 200,000 Australians, who would have been on the dole queues, are not. So you might want to dismiss it as simply buying goods made in China—keep saying that; I am sure you will—but it was an important stimulus package in terms of making sure the economy did not slip into recession. We actually think we should manage the economy in order to benefit working Australians and to protect jobs. In relation to the detail of the question, household assistance will initially involve an increase in payments of, I am advised, 1.7 per cent, with a lump-sum clean energy advance paid in May and June 2012. This will provide certainty to households that they are being assisted, even before the carbon price starts, and it will help them to get ready for the carbon price. The advance will enable householders to improve the energy efficiency of their homes if they wish and to reduce their energy expenditure in ways that may not be possible without a lump-sum financial boost.

I am advised the clean energy advance payment will cover a period of six, nine or 12 months depending on the payment category. Most pensioners and allowees will receive one advance covering a nine-month period from July 2012 to March 2013. Family tax benefit recipients will receive an advance covering the 12 months from July 2012 to July 2013.

I think, Senator, there has been some suggestion by the opposition that it would be a payment covering 18 months. I am advised that is not correct. I understand that one single advance will not cover 18 months; however, some recipients will receive two advances. These include individuals such as students on youth allowance. They will receive two advances, one which covers the 12 months from July 2012 to July 2013 and another which covers the six-month period from July 2013 to January 2014. The different coverage of these advances reflects the different indexation periods for government payments. If people transfer to a different rate of government payment during the period covered by the advance, they may be eligible for an immediate top-up payment of their advance. This will ensure that no-one will be disadvantaged if their circumstances change after they have received their advance.

People will start receiving fortnightly clean energy supplements along with their regular government payments immediately after the end of the period covered by their advance payment. The payment of the advance and then the supplements will ensure there will be no period in which relevant Australian households are not assisted with the impact of a carbon price.