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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 7479

Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (09:48): I rise today to speak on the package of bills to repeal the carbon tax. On 7 September last year, the Australian people spoke with a resounding voice. They spoke to have the carbon tax pulled. They no longer wanted to have their household budgets damaged by this reckless tax. We on this side of the chamber kept our promise to the Australian people, and today, for the second time, we are debating the carbon tax. We all recall former Prime Minister Gillard, on 16 August 2010, stating:

There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead …

To many honest, hardworking people living within the Lindsay electorate, that single, uncomplicated promise was enough to return my predecessor and his then mentor—for whom he was getting a tattoo—to the roles of trusted servants of the Australian people.

Fast forward to Friday, 16 August 2013. The temperature at Kingswood train station was a very brisk six degrees. As winter days go in the Nepean Valley, it was a perfect temperature, touching 22 by mid-afternoon. The vibe of the people at the station was positive and a constant one: they wanted change. Cost-of-living pressures, employment and the carbon tax were constant themes of complaint against the previous government. In the weeks leading up to election day, I had spent countless hours—and many pairs of shoes—meeting and talking with constituents face to face. In fact, we met with over 30,000 people across the Lindsay electorate. There were tales of woe of constituents who felt so, so let down by the previous government, deceived by the previous government, let down by a Prime Minister who recklessly claimed things and then went on against the wishes of the people who had elected her to be there.

It was heartbreaking to walk through areas like Werrington and see pensioners wrapped up in blankets, restricting themselves to one room of their home because they were too frightened to put on a heater on those cold days that we get in Western Sydney. This was the sort of pain that those opposite inflicted on Australians everywhere and the people of western Sydney, the people I now have the opportunity to represent. We found many other pensioners and seniors at their local clubs, be it the St Marys Band Club, the RSL clubs or their bowling clubs, because at least they could get away from the cool temperatures there because those clubs were heated. Perhaps one of the worst examples of the carbon tax was the pain imposed on a retired war veteran and his wife, whom I met when I doorknocked. They told me that their costs had increased and that they had—once again—confined themselves to one room of their home. This is not what they fought to defend in our country. I found it quite heartbreaking and disrespectful to stand there and to see our war heroes in those sorts of conditions.

For those of the members now in opposition who struggle to count past 10 with their shoes and socks off: the Australian people did vote to repeal the carbon tax. In Lindsay, 53,446 of the formal votes lodged on 7 September 2013 were against the ALP: that is, 61 per cent of the voters I represent told former the Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and those opposite—whoever is in charge—that they did not want a carbon tax. On a national level, repealing the carbon tax will help families, strengthen our economy and remove a massive weight from this country's shoulders.

This package of bills currently before the House is a central part of the coalition's plan to build a stronger economy and help address the cost-of-living pressures on all families. We all have a moral responsibility as elected servants of the Australian people to honour the decision that the Australian people have asked us to make. In terms of dollars, the carbon tax will realise a $9 billion hit on the Australian economy this year alone. That is a $9 billion hit on jobs, a $9 billion hit on investment, a $9 billion burden on Australia that we just do not need and, more to the point, that we cannot afford. At home in Lindsay, the carbon tax is a burden on the budgets of our hardworking families. The repeal of the carbon tax will finally remove the pressure and stranglehold that has been placed on these families by the former Labor government.

As a result of this legislation, local families will be $550 a year better off. The opportunity this affords for families in the Lindsay electorate, from Penrith to St Marys, Glenmore Park to Cambridge Park, Kingswood to Castlereagh and Mulgoa—right across the electorate—is considerable. Lindsay is the fourth youngest electorate, so that $550 across a family's budget will have an important impact. For the 31,604 families in Lindsay, it will make a huge difference. It could mean more text books, tutoring for school kids, driving lessons for our teenagers, membership of the local sporting clubs or football team and, wait for it, the luxury of being able to turn on a heater in winter or an air conditioner in a hot, hot summer. For the 31,604 families, being $550 better off will be the result of the repeal of the carbon tax—$550 for a better future for these families; $550 that they can choose how to spend.

I am proud to be a part of a government that has been consistent, a government that supports the Australian people, a government that is delivering on its promises, a government that is committed to cutting $1 billion a year from the red tape that is currently choking so many businesses. The repeal of the carbon tax will mean that compliance costs will fall by around $87.6 million. This immediate relief will mean that local families and business owners such as those on High Street, Penrith, and Queen Street, St Marys, or in any of our industrial parks can get back to the job of doing business and stop jumping through so many government hoops.

Like all Australians, the people of Lindsay are a proud people and we will choose to make sacrifices if it means providing for a better future for our families. We do aspire to a lifestyle of choice and freedom and we resent those who attempt to take these things from us. A big part of our lifestyle is Western Sydney is sport and recreation and the choices we make to raise our families. Penrith is home of the Whitewater Stadium, which was a Sydney Olympics asset, so in the year 2000 we saw both rowing and whitewater rafting within the Lindsay electorate. The whitewater rafting site requires a lot of energy to pump the water from the holding dam into the top of the whitewater rafting course. Since the Olympic Games this site has become quite popular for both recreation and competitive sports for local groups and many families. In fact, it is an important tourist attraction for the region. As a direct result of the increase in electricity prices, the Penrith Whitewater Stadium has had to close during peak electricity usage times, after 1pm on weekdays, from April through to October. I refer to comments made by Jack Hodge, the Manager of Penrith Whitewater Stadium, in the Western Weekender on 14 February this year:

The carbon tax has also contributed to a forecast increase in our electricity bills by 15 per cent.

We have been trying to reduce these costs through demand management by shutting down the stadium in the peak electricity times after 1pm on weekdays from April to October.

I would like to reiterate for the House how significant this is. This is an international sporting facility that leads to sporting teams from across the world coming to the Lindsay electorate, staying in our hotels, dining in our restaurant precincts, yet it has to be closed down because of the carbon tax and increases in electricity prices. This is about as reckless as you can get. It is damaging the people in Lindsay and it is damaging our economy in Western Sydney. It is absolutely appalling. How can we expect businesses to continue when they are up against these sorts of imposts?

I would also like to refer to Penrith council, which produced a report for a council ordinary meeting on the cost the council is facing. The report says:

The Carbon Price on electricity for 2013-14 is charged at … Based on Council's 2012-13 usage the estimated Carbon Charge for 2013-14 is just over $400,000.

The report also says:

In the period from July to December 2013 the cost of the Carbon Price to Council on waste services was $239,424. This is made up of $102,323 for waste sent straight to landfill, $34,629 for garbage processing, $73,867 for composting, and $28,605 for recycling. This equates to $478,848 once pro-rated for 2013-14.

For fuel costs, the report says:

Over a full year this equates to $26,900 potential savings if the Carbon Price is repealed.

The total saving for Penrith Council is $906,000 annually—nearly $1 million. The bottom line of the report for me, where the rubber really does hit the road, is when it says:

… electricity costs and fuel costs will be offset in the calculation of the rate peg.

In other words, straight through to the ratepayer, another way of hurting the people of Western Sydney.

That just goes to show how reckless those opposite are, to deliberately hurt the people of Western Sydney, to hurt the good families of Western Sydney.

I would also like to talk about what we are doing—the Direct Action Plan. It is great to have the Minister for the Environment here with us today because he has been a wonderful advocate for and supporter of the Cumberland Plain Woodland. The Lindsay community, together with Macquarie, will benefit from the $15 million boost to the bushland in Western Sydney. They will see a Green Army campaign of 15 Green Army teams working on local projects in the Cumberland corridor. This is an important environment reform, which will have massive significance for the people of Western Sydney. It will also provide employment and training opportunities for the local community through the Green Army and the 20 Million Trees program.

When we look at what we are doing to provide direct action on the ground, to work with local communities to reduce our impact on the environment, we can see quite clearly that we are supporting the people of Western Sydney. We are supporting families. These 15 Green Army teams will provide a massive boost to the families in Western Sydney, unlike those opposite who have done nothing but charge and charge through our councils, through increases in fuel prices, through the $550 a year of costs to the average families. I stand proud to support these bills today. I thank the Minister for the Environment once again for looking after the people of Western Sydney.