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Transcript of press conference: Sydney: 24 October 2012: [Release of inflation figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics]

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The release of the inflation figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today presents an alarming picture. We have now seen the largest increase in electricity prices since modern records were first kept - and as the Reserve Bank says ‘there is more to come’.

A 15.3% increase in electricity prices in the last three months and Labor says it’s not their fault. A 41% increase in the last two years and Labor says it’s not their fault. A 90% increase in electricity prices since Labor were elected and they say it’s not their fault.

Labor wants to see electricity prices increase - that is the whole design of the carbon tax. It was Labor in Queensland for 20 years, Labor in New South Wales for 16 years, Labor in Victoria for 11 years, that played games with electricity infrastructure, that has also caused the price increase. This is firmly State and Federal Labor’s responsibility for the highest increase in electricity prices since modern records were first kept and we are told there is more to come.

Likewise, with gas, it has risen 14.2% in the last three months - that is nearly a 30% increase in gas prices since Julia Gillard was elected and 62% since Labor was elected. This, according to the ABS, is also linked to the carbon tax.

The third government decision to have a real impact on families; health costs are up 7.2% this year, with a surge of 2.4% this quarter, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics said it is ‘mainly as a result of means testing reforms of the Private Health Insurance Rebate from 1 July’. Ten million Australians have Private Health Insurance, including one million Australians earning less than $24,000 a year. The increase in the cost of healthcare is directly a result of the Government’s decision to penalise ten million Australians who have Private Health Insurance.

Further, on Monday the Government announced a $1.1 billion extra slug on private health insurance and they have already taken $850 million of dividends out of Medibank Private


which has 1 million policyholders, so inflation is going to keep going up and up and up - and Labor offers no apology.

Wayne Swan said ‘this is temporary’. The last time Wayne Swan used the word ‘temporary’ he said we were going to have a temporary deficit five years ago - so far he has never delivered a surplus. That is not temporary, that is permanent. Now we are finding that

Australian families are going to continue to struggle under the weight of increasing prices directly as a result of this government’s policies.

The Treasurer also says there is a modest impact of carbon prices, well we are now about to see it flow through to everything everyone does. Electricity is the most important infrastructure everyday Australians have and the price is just going to keep going up and up and up. I would say to the Government, no more excuses, no more gilding the lily, the fact is you are responsible for these electricity price increases because this is exactly what the

Government wanted. They wanted to increase the price of electricity, now they have got their wish, and they are pretending it is not happening.


Mr Hockey, isn’t it a bit rich to be claiming that it is all Labor Governments’ fault for electricity price rises when you know it is largely the utility companies over the last couple of years.


Most of the utility companies are owned by state governments, Labor has been in Government at a state level for decades in NSW, in Victoria, in Queensland. The state governments there have been Liberal for less than two years across the eastern seaboard. To suddenly say that state Labor is different to federal Labor, they are fingers on the same hand. This is the green agenda of the Labor Party in play. They are saying ‘we want to increase the price of electricity’. They have got their wish, now Australians are paying the price.


But what are the state Liberal Governments doing to bring down the electricity prices?


A number of them have made different announcements - including with rebates being offered in various jurisdictions. The bottom line is, if rising electricity prices are such a bad thing then why would Labor want to make it worse for everyday families? I don’t understand it. They seem to fail to understand the impact of their own decisions - and nothing is more obvious proof of that than the fact that Martin Ferguson today was distancing himself from the decision of the Government on Monday to fiddle around with company tax receipts. The Government is at odds with itself, but the consistent theme coming through is they know how to hit people with higher taxes and higher charges and the increases in cost of living are directly as a result of this Government’s decisions and actions.



Mr Swan has said the carbon price has had less of an impact on inflation than the GST when it was introduced; what do you say to that?


Wayne Swan spent most of his press conference talking about the Opposition, but it is because he has got nothing to say about his own Government. When the GST was introduced prices actually came down in a number of areas because we abolished a whole lot of sales taxes, financial institutions duty, bed taxes, bank account debits taxes and so on. Labor is not abolishing taxes, they are increasing them. This is exactly what Labor wanted. They wanted to see electricity prices go through the roof, they have got their wish and now they are pretending they have had nothing to do with it.


Electricity is rising across the world though [inaudible].


We are one of the biggest producers of energy in the world. We should have cheaper electricity, we should have cheaper gas - gas increased by more than 14%, electricity increased by more than 15% in the last three months. Everyday Australians need gas and electricity. These guys just make it tougher and tougher - this is the Labor way and then they run away in a rather cowardly way from the impact of their own actions.


Why should Craig Thomson have to leave Parliament and Andrew Laming didn’t?


I really don’t want to say anything about that particular issue other than it is a very serious issue when police raid a Member of Parliament’s home. They weren’t going over for a morning cup of tea, and Julia Gillard spent a lot of time defending Mr Thomson and we will see how it plays out.


Is it time that Labor stopped accepting Thomson’s vote?


Of course. Craig Thomson is a creature of the Labor Party. Julia Gillard has been defending him the whole way and we will leave it in the hands of law enforcement officers. Thank you.