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Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Page: 4470

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services) (10:43): I too rise to speak on the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No.2] and related bills. Can I start my contribution by looking at the hypocrisy of Senator Wong when she speaks about intergenerational burden. This is from a former finance minister whose legacy to this country would have been cumulative deficits of $123 billion and a debt of $667 billion unless remedial action had been taken by this government. So do not come into this place, Senator Wong, with your hypocrisy and tell us about intergenerational burden, when you left our children and our grandchildren with an enormous debt and deficit disaster. This government now has to fix up your mess.

Secondly, she obviously has amnesia because she is not familiar, despite what Senator Abetz pointed out to her the other day, with the pamphlet that the Labor Party went out with at the last federal election. They understood the electoral poison that the carbon tax was, because their pamphlet said Kevin Rudd and Labor removed the carbon tax. That was the lie that they perpetrated at the last federal election by publishing material that actually said 'Carbon tax abolished'. That is what it said—authorised by George Wright. At the last federal election he was their federal general secretary. This is what went out. Everybody did not know it was out there? They were not distributing it? Of course they were distributing it. They realised the electoral poison that the carbon tax was and they were getting on the bandwagon and lying to the Australian public, saying, 'Kevin Rudd and Labor have removed the carbon tax.' They did not remove the carbon tax; they are in here still fighting tooth and nail to retain it.

Can I just say to you, Senator Wright, how absolutely patronising it is of you to come into this chamber and denigrate the crossbenchers. I thought that was absolutely outrageous. This is from a political party that has some of the most wacko policies that we have ever seen in this country. They believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden—these are the Greens of Australian politics.

Let me go on—unless those opposite, the Greens and the Labor Party, did not realise there was an election last year. We went to the election and we said clearly—we said clearly—that we would be abolishing the carbon tax. It would be the first priority of the new government to abolish the carbon tax. That is what we are doing.

Senator Whish-Wilson: What about the by-election in Western Australia?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: Senator Whish-Wilson, it was as if the last federal election did not happen even though you stood as a candidate. It was as if it did not actually happen. The Australian public voted for this government. They voted for us to abolish the carbon tax, and here you are continuing your ALP-Greens alliance with schoolkid pranks by not providing a quorum to the Senate committee to consider these bills. What a childish act. What does that say about you and your Labor colleagues that you have to pull this sort of stunt? Typical ALP: when you cannot get your way, you pull a strike, and that is exactly what they did last week. What a crude and infantile act to try and block even consideration of this matter.

Can I just remind the Senate—and it is all very well for you to squeal, 'We don't have enough time'—as Senator Ruston and Senator Abetz correctly pointed out, we have had about 35 hours of debate on this already. This package of bills has already gone through the House of Representatives. It has already gone through the Senate. It has been considered and given scrutiny in this place. It has gone back to the House of Representatives and it is now back again. We have been up-front and said that we want to vote on this package of legislation.

Can I just remind those opposite that they are all standing here now holier than thou saying, 'Oh dear, we should retain this tax,' which we all know has not worked. But let me remind Senator Wong. Obviously, just as she forgot about the material that they took to the last federal election, she has forgotten what she has previously said on the record. On 23 February 2009, she said:

A carbon tax does not guarantee emissions reductions.

That was what she said in 2009. Then, of course, she reiterated that in an article in The Australian on 11 March 2011. She also say a carbon tax is 'not the silver bullet some people would think'. Then, of course, you have other members of the Labor Party and their views. For example, we have Nick Champion making comments to Chris Uhlmann on 11 September 2013. He said:

… I don't see why the Labor Party should necessarily stay wedded to this concept when everybody else has walked away from it in one form or another.

Then, of course, the thing that really is irritating is that anybody who dares to go against this and have a different point of view on the issue of the carbon tax is deemed an extremist—is labelled as an extremist. That would mean—it goes without saying—that all those people who then supported the coalition and our platform to abolish the carbon tax are also extremists, because they supported us.

Here we have on 23 March 2011—and we have had quite a number of these comments; I will just pick two that were made on that day—again, Nick Champion telling us that the protesters are extremists. This was backed up by Michelle Rowland also agreeing that some of these people are extreme. It reflects more on their own myopic prejudices than the views of the majority of the Australian public who voted for a repeal of the carbon tax. Can I just say that those opposite are completely out of touch and not in sync with the majority of the Australian public. Of course, the carbon tax did go up on 1 July.

Before closing, can I make some comments in relation to my own area of the Illawarra. I have spoken at length about this in the past: the impact that the carbon tax has had on an area that was dependent on steel manufacturing and on coal production. The impacts are being felt in the Illawarra due to the downturn of those industries in the Illawarra and the impact that it has had on unemployment. In the interests of allowing more people to speak, I will now conclude my remarks on this matter.

(Quorum formed)