Thursday, 28 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, on 1 July, how will Australians have the opportunity to make up their own minds about putting a price on carbon? What assistance will the government provide to families, pensioners and industry as this important reform comes into effect?
I thank the member for Reid for his question. The member knows carbon pricing starts on 1 July; and the member knows that on that date Australians, who are a very practical people, will have the ability to judge for themselves what the impact of carbon pricing is. They will be able to assess the claims that have been made about carbon pricing by the Leader of the Opposition and the opposition front and back bench teams. Australians, as a practical people with common sense, will be able to see the impacts of carbon pricing.
After 1 July they will be able to assess: has the coal industry been brought to an end? Is no-one working in coal anymore? Is there no more investment in coal? Or will they in fact see coalmines continue to work and our coal industry continue to expand? They will be able to assess whether the town of Whyalla is still functioning or has been wiped off the map. They will be able to assess whether the price increases at their local supermarket have been astronomical, as promised by the Leader of the Opposition. They will be able to assess whether Australia has immediately entered a 'permanent depression', as the Leader of the Opposition has claimed. They will be able to assess whether all of the claims of the Leader of the Opposition—whether it is a wrecking ball through the economy, squeals of pain from puppies or any of these things—are coming true on 1 July.
In fact, what they will see is our economy transforming over time into a clean energy economy. They have already seen increases in family payments, and that assistance will be continued. Pensioners have already seen assistance turn up in their bank accounts, and that assistance will be continued. From the pay period after 1 July many Australians will see tax cuts. People earning less than $80,000 a year will see a tax cut and some people who pay tax today will pay no tax—because if you earn $18,200 or less you will not give a cent of that to the tax man.
These are the changes that Australians will see. These are the facts about carbon pricing. What is it all about? It is about cutting our carbon pollution in the most effective and least-cost way. That is what Australians will see from 1 July. The Leader of the Opposition will then be called to account for every false statement he has made to the Australian people as a result of his relentless negativity.
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to a statement by the Queensland Council of Social Services that more than 7,000 residential electricity customers have had their power cut in the first quarter of 2011-2012 because their bills are unpaid. Can she guarantee that the rate of households that have had their power cut off will not increase because of higher electricity prices due to her carbon tax?
In response to the member's question, poorer Australians—people who live on fixed incomes such as, for example, the pension—will get more assistance than they need to deal with the impact of carbon pricing; 20 per cent more. The Australians he says he is concerned about will actually have more money in their pockets as a result of the extra payments that are flowing through to them. That is a fact. I am sure that, if the member is genuine and serious in his concern for these poorer Australians, he would want to see these poorer Australians with more money in their pockets, and that is what this government has determined to do. That is what is happening right now with people getting prepayments, for example, of additional moneys going into their pension.
The member who says he is concerned about these issues ought to direct his attention to the right place: not to this government which, in the course of carbon pricing, has sought to benefit low-income households, but to state governments which have had huge electricity price rises without a cent of assistance to Australians and, most particularly, poorer Australians. He might then like to direct his attention to a state government like the O'Farrell government in New South Wales which wants to engage in a public housing rip-off. Barry O'Farrell wants to grab money that we sent some of the poorest Australians—those who are most at risk—out of their purses and wallets and stuff it into his budget because he cannot make it add up. So if the member is genuinely concerned about the poor then he should get on the phone to Barry O'Farrell today and say, 'Don't steal money from people in public housing.' When he is finished with that call he might say to Barry O'Farrell, 'Do something about the increases you are putting on electricity.' Then he can ring Premier Newman, Premier Baillieu and Premier Barnett on exactly the same point.
A point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: with a minute to go, or less than a minute to go, we have to get to the question. The question was: can she guarantee that the rate of households who have their power cut off will not increase?
Let me clearly say, my concern is that we will continue to see state Liberal governments smashing into these households. Premier Newman, for example, has given absolutely no guarantee about not ripping off money from public housing tenants. They may well be under attack from state Liberal governments, but they will see extra assistance and help from this government every step of the way because we are a Labor government and that is what we do.