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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Page: 833

Senator BOYCE (3:25 PM) —I also rise to take note of answers by the ministers named by others. I have great trouble saying that I am going to take note of answers, because there were in fact no answers. Senator Carr told us that he had not done any modelling at all on jobs in the manufacturing area. Manufacturing has lost almost 90,000 jobs during Senator Carr’s time allegedly in charge of the functioning of manufacturing, looking after them with his tender mercies.

Senator Conroy laughably suggested that teleworking is somehow all by itself going to get rid of climate change and overcome emissions. Let us look at that. Firstly, was that a confirmation that there will be a carbon tax on petrol? Is that an extra incentive for people to stay at home and work rather than go to work? The teleworking industry has been growing at a rapid pace without either spending billions of dollars on the NBN or a carbon tax, so I am not quite sure what the massive change is that Senator Conroy is hoping to achieve here.

Then there were the answers of other senators, which bring us back to the basic point of this carbon tax that the government proposed last Thursday out of the blue. Senator Pratt had the nerve to suggest that we had not looked at the detail. We would love to look at the detail. Where is the detail? Are our trade exposed industries covered? Are manufacturing businesses that will suffer because of higher prices and an inability to charge their customers more covered? Who knows? Is petrol covered? The list goes on and on. What is the price of carbon going to be set at? If it is set at $26 a tonne, we are looking at more than $300 extra for electricity for the average Australian family, we are looking at about 6.5c a litre more for petrol for the average Australian family and we are looking at about an extra $100 a year for gas for the average Australian family. The price of manufactured goods—if they can get them—will go up or these people will simply have to go offshore or close down. The price of groceries and food will go up. So we would love to examine the detail of this proposed carbon tax. But all we got was this little bubble—this concept idea—from Ms Gillard, with her friends in tow.

One of the things that have puzzled the coalition and that we have been trying to understand since last Thursday is how on earth the Prime Minister could so shamelessly lie and break an election promise as she did. As a number of people have quoted, just before the election the Prime Minister said, ‘There will no carbon tax under the government I lead.’ We found it inconceivable that the Prime Minister could say that in August and do what she did, alleging changed circumstances.

I think perhaps what has happened is that we are misreading her comment of 10 August. It is not the ‘no carbon tax’ part of the promise that we should be looking at; it is the ‘under the government I lead’ part that we should be looking at. As she points out, in the present circumstances she does not lead the government. It is not the government she leads anymore, so the honest and right thing to do would be to go to an election to see what the people of Australia think about her carbon tax idea and to confirm whether it is she who leads the government or whether it is Senator Bob Brown, Mr Combet or Mr Shorten who leads this government. It certainly is not the Prime Minister, but she should have the courage to find this out at an election. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.