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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1570


Mr ABBOTT (Leader of the Opposition) (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Today, Prime Minister, I was in Queanbeyan, talking to a bus proprietor who said that a carbon tax on petrol would not only push up fuel prices by at least 6½c a litre but also push up ticket prices and put more cars on the road. I ask the Prime Minister: why should small businesses like Deane’s Buslines trust the Prime Minister on anything when she could not keep her promise not to introduce a carbon tax?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I presume when the Leader of the Opposition was having this discussion that he was also talking about whether or not that small business person wanted to see a strong economy and that he was also talking about whether or not that small business person wanted to see us have the clean energy jobs of the future. I hope he was also talking to that small business person about the way in which the Leader of the Opposition, in the last few days, has gone around trying to mislead Australians about this important debate in pursuit of a fear campaign, because the only thing the Leader of the Opposition ever came to this parliament to do was to stop things, wreck things and destroy things.

As the Leader of the Opposition well knows, what the government has announced is a mechanism to price carbon. What the Leader of the Opposition well knows is that a carbon price has not been announced yet; nor has the household assistance package. Yet despite that, the Leader of the Opposition and members of the shadow cabinet are wandering around trying to create fear amongst Australians about what impact this will have on them. Every day they go around with different figures. The shadow minister earlier said $1,100—he just made a figure up. The New South Wales opposition leader is wandering around with $500—he just made a figure up. The Leader of the Opposition is wandering around with figures like $300 and 6½c. All of these figures have been made up by the Leader of the Opposition in pursuit of his fear campaign.

But what the Leader of the Opposition has never done and what he will never do is become honest with the Australian people and say to them that he himself has personally endorsed a carbon tax as the simplest way of pricing carbon and that he himself has said that every decision he has ever made about this has not been about the policy or what is in Australia’s national interest, but about the politics—pure and simple. The only judgment he has ever made about this has been as a weathervane, holding his finger up to see how he could politically profit from this rather than have the nation profit from it.

The Leader of the Opposition should also come clean with the Australian people and explain to them that he wants to saddle on their shoulders $10.5 billion of ineffective measures, ripping money out of their purses and wallets to use in pursuit of his ineffective direct action measures. That is what the Leader of the Opposition should be honest about. Let’s have this debate. Let’s have it loud and clear, in this parliament and beyond. We stand for action; you stand for inaction. We stand for giving businesses certainty; you stand for uncertainty. We stand for generously assisting households; you stand for rising power prices with no assistance. We stand for making sure we make a difference to our economy and create a clean energy economy for the future; you stand for no prosperity, no jobs and no prospects.