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Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Page: 46

Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (3:15 PM) —It is great to be back here and to see that the Labor Party feels that the most important thing before our nation right now—more important than the Haitian earthquake, more important than that we have some tremors once more on financial markets and that shares are starting to question whether China is closing down its credit, more important than any of that—is Labor’s ETS. That is the most important thing for the Labor Party. Let us make sure that we understand the Labor Party’s Maslow hierarchy of needs, what is most important in their lives. No. 1 is the Labor Party’s ETS. That is the most important thing.

They did such a great job at Copenhagen. Copenhagen was such a roaring success! Every night I turned on I could see the snow falling, I could see the canals freezing over and I felt like ringing up and saying: ‘Ease up guys. You’re going too hard. Pull back a bit on the reins. You’re too good at it.’ What did we achieve out of all of this? Imagine where Australia would be right now if that ridiculous policy had actually got through. We would be sitting out there as the most peculiar political object in the world, as an economic basket case brought into place by the Labor Party.

Let us go through some of the Labor Party hyperbole. First of all, they laud the process—‘This is a market based scheme.’ They are dead right; it is a market based scheme. It was designed to put up the price of goods so that you cannot afford them. That is what this was designed to do and that is what it would do to the pensioners of Australia. That is what it would do to the working families of Australia and that is what it would do to the farmers of Australia. You moralise about them putting up their prices but then you say, ‘No, tarry a while, because we will give you some of your own money back.’ This is supposed to be logical. So they take the money from you and then they give it back. That is not even market based; that is confusion, except to the point where you make people’s lives miserable, where you make the price of air conditioning out of the reach of the pensioner, where the transport price on food makes it out of the reach of the people who probably do not earn the wages we do. You start putting these imposts on their lives because of your pride and overwhelming desire by the Prime Minister and Minister Wong to be the omnipotent force. They know better than all of us; they know better than all the people who rang this building. They know better than everybody. If only people knew how smart they were, they would realise how blessed we are to have them! This is the sort of Labor Party we have.

I am going to quote your famous prime minister who always said, ‘If you do not understand a tax, do not vote for it.’ I say back to the Australian people quite clearly that: if you do not understand it, do not vote for it. Unfortunately, that would mean half the Labor Party cannot vote for it either because no-one understands it. It is worse than Kafka’s Castle. It is noodle nation. It is everything bound up into an environmental economic train wreck. That is what we are about to get. And then Paul Keating said, ‘If you did understand it, you would never vote for it.’ That, of course, is chapter 2.

I want to add another addendum to the wisdom of Paul Keating and this is it: ‘I’m glad you brought it back because I want to do you slowly.’ I want to do you slowly. I want you sitting over there every day talking about the ETS. I want it being broadcast that what you want to deliver to the Australian working family, to the Australian public, is a massive new tax, because that is all it is. That is your benevolence to them. I can see you all barging out of the chamber because you do not want to be here. You want to be a million miles away from this and the polling is saying the same. The voters are waking up to it because all of a sudden they have realised that this massive new tax is money in your pocket and a cost to them—a cost to working families, a cost to pensioners, a cost to everybody. The trouble is that in the long term people cannot afford it.

You want to talk about the coalition policy. It is quite clear. I will give it to you quite succinctly—$3.2 billion. For the greatest moral issue of our time I think we can afford $3.2 billion. Our policy is succinct and understandable; yours is just a complete and utter cluster. That is what we are going to do to you over the next few weeks. I hope you keep it here for as long as possible because I am going to really enjoy these next couple of weeks.