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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Page: 1073

Ms RISHWORTH (7:55 PM) —I rise tonight to speak about an issue that has had a lot of discussion this week, and that is the issue of climate change. In particular, I want to talk about the important element of Labor’s plan that the opposition refuses to acknowledge: the generous compensation scheme under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. We have seen the Leader of the Opposition running a fear campaign on the increases in the cost of living of the Australian people. While he runs around and visits dry cleaners, what he is not being upfront with the Australian people about is the cost of his own scheme. He needs to answer some questions. Where is this money coming from? What impact will it have on the Australian people? How is he going to compensate them?

In stark contrast, the government have been very upfront about our scheme, where we believe the increases will occur and how we are going to compensate for them. In fact, we have been very clear with the Australian people. We have said that polluters will bear the cost but that there will be a modest burden on consumers. But we have said that we will compensate for this. Indeed, 90 per cent of low-income households will receive assistance to 120 per cent of the costs, while 97 per cent of middle-income households will receive direct cash payments.

This is in stark contrast to the opposition, which has put out a scheme that we know probably will not be effective. In fact, this scheme will probably increase carbon pollution by about 13 per cent. At the same time, it will cost the Australian taxpayer and Australian families three times as much. The opposition leader has not been upfront with the Australian people about where this money will come from nor indeed how he will compensate them. In fact, the opposition leader has offered no compensation whatsoever in his scheme. He has also started talking about penalties, although it is not clear what these penalties will be, how these penalties will be applied, how they will be passed on to consumers—and we have no doubt that businesses that receive penalties will pass them on to consumers—and how consumers will be compensated. There is zero compensation in the opposition leader’s scheme.

What is really important for the electors in my electorate of Kingston to understand, and what we have been very clear on, is that any costs that are associated with the scheme will be offset by a carbon price paid by the big polluters. When we look at age pension couples, they will be around $283 better off under the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Single age pensioners will be around $169 better under the CPRS. This compensation will go to pensioners, seniors, carers and people with disabilities. That is particularly important to those on a disability pension in my electorate of Kingston. The previous government completely ignored disability pensioners when it came to assisting them with the cost of living. It took the election of this government to extend the utilities allowance to support disability pensioners. The previous government completely ignored them. When it came to the Economic Security Strategy, the lump sum payments were for the first time extended to disability pensioners. I know that disability pensioners in my electorate were very grateful that finally there was a government that took them seriously.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 8 pm, the debate is interrupted.