Thursday, 16 August 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation. Will the minister outline the significant action being taken here and overseas to reduce pollution? Why is it important that the debate around carbon pricing be driven by facts, not fear?
I thank the member for Greenway for her question. Last year, acting on the scientific advice, countries around the world, including all the major emitters and including Australia—committed to take on legal obligations from 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—and of course that is further to the pledges they have made to reduce emissions up to 2020.
As part of this mendacious and deceitful campaign that the coalition and the Leader of the Opposition have run, the Leader of the Opposition has been claiming that Australia is somehow acting alone: that we are on our own; the rest of the world is doing nothing; nothing is going on; there are no agreements to cut emissions. In fact, last year the Leader of the Opposition had this to say: 'There is no sign, no sign whatsoever, that the rest of the world is going to do things like introduce carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes.'
At the time that statement was made, New Zealand had an emissions trading scheme and more than 20 countries had had emissions trading for six years. The Kyoto Protocol had been place for quite some period of time. But in that context the Leader of the Opposition's take on international affairs is that the US is not a foreign country. It has all the credibility and quality of his foreign policy observations. In this context I was very surprised to read this morning that the member for Flinders, the shadow minister, has in fact committed the coalition to sign up to the international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are the same agreements that the opposition leader says do not exist—that no-one is committed to. No-one is doing anything! But the fact of the matter is that, try as he might to deny it, many countries are taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
All 27 European Union member countries, including the UK under the conservative government, are cutting emissions. China, Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa, are all introducing moves to carbon pricing arrangements to cut their emissions. Those countries know it is the most efficient way to go about all of this. The coalition knows it, and that is why their campaign is a massive fraud—a complete litany of lies; a completely mendacious campaign.
I withdraw, Deputy Speaker. Make no mistake about this: the carbon price has come in and people are starting to realise what a fraudulent campaign this is. And they also know that the greatest fraudulent claim of all is that the coalition will repeal it, because everyone knows that the coalition will not and cannot repeal—(Time expired)
Factual information is very important. Take, for example, the assertion made by the member for Boothby yesterday in relation to the Belair Hotel. It is fascinating that on having a look at the bill the carbon price is, in fact, less than 10 per cent of the cost of the bill—exactly what the government indicated it would be. It is exactly consistent with the Treasury modelling. Misrepresentation, deceit, mendacious claims. The coalition is very fond of anniversaries—
The coalition are very fond of anniversaries; that has been raised today. It is three years since the Leader of the Opposition said he supported a carbon tax. That is what it is: it is the third year anniversary of the Leader of the Opposition saying on television that he supported a carbon tax. It is five years since the Howard government indicated that the coalition would introduce a world-leading emissions trading scheme. What hypocrisy! Twelve months ago the Leader of the Opposition said that upon introduction of the carbon price, food prices would go up five per cent. What did we indicate yesterday? TD Securities found a 0.2 per cent increase in consumer prices during July and in that survey they found that food prices were unaffected by the introduction of the carbon price. That is TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute— (Time expired)
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the Western Suburbs Leagues Club in my Hinkler electorate, which has just received its July electricity account, showing that carbon tax almost doubled the off-peak power charge, hitting the club with an additional power cost of $7,500 a year. Will the Prime Minister apologise to the club and its treasurer Ray Haylock for promising two years ago, 'There will not be a carbon tax under a government I lead.'
Thank you very much. To the member for Hinkler I say that this is a bit like the discussion we had about the Belair Hotel and the claims that were made in this parliament yesterday. The fact, of course, is that that hotel has experienced an increase in its power price of less than 10 per cent, and that is what we predicted as the price impact on power for Australian households. We made predictions through the modelling and those predictions have come true.
To the member for Hinkler: I say to him—once again looking at the power price impacts—that we know what the power price impacts are. They are the same as what we said they would be when we announced carbon pricing. And, because of those impacts, we have put more money in people's pockets, including the people who go to the club that he refers to. There is more money through tax cuts. A million Australians are not paying tax any longer, or keeping $18,200 before they pay a cent of tax—
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked whether she would apologise for her broken promise to the members of the Western Suburbs Leagues Club.
And members of that leagues club would be benefiting from those tax cuts. Members of that leagues club would be benefiting from the family payment increases. Members of that leagues club would be benefiting from the arrangements that we have made for pensioners. We have deliberately calculated the amount of assistance because we wanted to see pensioners come out in front, and so they were given 20 per cent more than the average impact of carbon pricing upon them as it flows through.
So, to the member who has raised the question with me, I would say the following. He would acknowledge, I believe, that the government's modelling has accurately predicted the effects we have seen in the community. They are nowhere near the same as the scare campaign that has been run predicted. People in his electorate would have those tax cuts, family payment and pension increases. The member who asked the question, as a member of long standing in this House, would recall that he stood in the 2007 election campaign promising to put a price on carbon, exactly as the Leader of the Opposition did—promising to put a price on carbon. And the Leader of the Opposition, should he ever be Prime Minister, will keep that price on carbon.
The member for Hinkler will resume his seat. I am not using question time for point—
Mr Neville interjecting—
The member for Hinkler will resume his seat. The Leader of the House has not given approval to table the document. The member for Reid has the call.
Mr Neville interjecting—
Member for Hinkler, I will not enter into this debate. The member for Hinkler will resume his seat. I have not made a ruling. I have indicated previous speakers have sought to resolve these issues after question time. You can raise it then. We now have a very limited time for question time, and I think it is highly inappropriate to keep eating into it.
My question is to the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform. Will the minister update the House on how the government has supported families with the introduction of the carbon price and what has been the impact of this support?
I thank the member for Reid very much for that question. He knows that this Labor government is all about making sure we do everything we possibly can to support families and to support pensioners in the challenges that they face every day to make ends meet. That is why we made the priority in our household assistance package helping those families and helping those pensioners. I can inform the member for Reid that, in his electorate alone, 37½ thousand households received extra help in the last couple of months.
The member for North Sydney interjects. Of course, the member for Reid will be able to inform his electors that if the member for North Sydney gets his way they will claw back every single cent of the money that the member for Reid made sure they get.
This government has introduced a price on carbon and we have done it, as the Prime Minister has indicated today, because we do want to build a strong, clean economy, not just for today but for the future. I want to acknowledge the students from Loyola College in my electorate that are in the gallery today. This is all about making sure that young people, in the future, have the opportunity to live in a clean economy. We are of course also delivering to millions of other Australians. We have made sure that 6.7 million households receive extra assistance, whether it is pensioners, students, self-funded retirees or other people on low incomes. They are all able to use this money to help with everyday costs, whether for groceries or electricity. One of the other major changes that this government has delivered is to make sure that seven million Australians have received a tax cut. People earning up to $80,000 have received a tax cut from this government.
So, six weeks in from the introduction of the carbon price, we see that the sky has in fact not fallen in. Families are still getting up every day, making sure their children go to school and going off to work themselves, and they have been getting the extra help from this government. What we know from the Leader of the Opposition is that he has a very, very clear plan to claw this money back from those families and those pensioners. (Time expired)
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the latest electricity bill of the Lakes Resort Hotel in South Australia, which shows that the carbon tax is costing them an additional $3,500 a month—and you think that it is pretty funny. Will the Prime Minister apologise to the owners and their customers for promising them two years ago today that 'there will be no tax under the government I lead'?
Mr Adams interjecting—
To the member for Boothby's question, the member for Boothby yesterday raised an issue about electricity pricing and the Belair Hotel. When that matter was looked at, what was clearly found was the increase in the price paid by the Belair hotel, when they paid their power bill, was less than 10 per cent. That is as the government had predicted. The member for Boothby ought to acknowledge that fact.
The member for Boothby is now referring to another business in his electorate. Let me say after yesterday's experience, one would want to check the facts. The member for Boothby is also of long standing in this House. In 2007 when the member for Boothby's sought re-election, he did it on a platform of pricing carbon. The policy document that he stood on at that election said that the coalition's plan to price carbon would lead to higher fuel and energy costs for households, community facilities and small businesses.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question is about a carbon tax bill of $3,500 for the Lakes Resort Hotel and the Prime Minister apologising for what she said five days before the election.
I am talking about carbon pricing and the facility that the member for Boothby refers to. In 2007, the member for Boothby presumably went to that facility and said that his policy, the coalition's policy, was to put a price on carbon, which would lead to higher fuel and energy costs for households, community facilities and small businesses.
Mr Abbott interjecting—
The Leader of the Opposition is interjecting. He would well remember designing that policy as a member of Prime Minister Howard's cabinet. He would have seen all of the documents. What of course the coalition did not talk about then, which this government has ensured has occurred, is that households have benefited from tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases. We wanted them to have that money because we knew that there would be a flow-through impact of carbon pricing.
Talking about electricity, the average assistance is $10.10 per household while the average impact is $3.30. To the member for Boothby, to the Leader of the Opposition, to coalition members opposite, it is about time they actually acknowledged that their plan in the past was carbon pricing, their leader has been in favour of carbon pricing and, if they were ever in government, they would keep the price on carbon.
My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation. Will the Assistant Treasurer update the House on false and misleading claims made about the carbon price. What action has been taken by the ACCC and businesses to address such claims?
I thank the member for Blair for his question. The member is right to ask questions about false and misleading claims that have been made in relation to the carbon price because there have been many. In fact, most of them have been made by the coalition. As we all know, the carbon price came into effect on 1 July.
Mr Fletcher interjecting—
What have we seen in that time? Have we seen the wrecking ball through the Australian economy that the Leader of the Opposition promised? No. What we have seen in that time is the ASX 200 rise by 4.6 per cent. We have seen 14,000 jobs created in that time and we have seen the TD Securities Melbourne institute inflation gauge record its lowest reading in almost three years. While there have been some false and misleading claims made, the good news is that most Australian businesses, the vast majority of Australian businesses, are doing the right thing.
For that small proportion of businesses that have been making false and misleading claims, the ACCC has been taking prompt action. So far we have seen enforcement action taken against a gym in Melbourne for using claims about the carbon price to try and lock its customers into long-term contracts. We have seen enforcement action taken again against Brumby's bakeries. We have seen enforcement action taken against a company that was making false claims about refrigerant gases, claims which those opposite have been recklessly seeking to beat up in order to make some political gain.
Mr Morrison interjecting—
While some of us have been out there trying to crack down on these price rises, the Leader of the Opposition has been mounting the mother of all scare campaigns, trying to give businesses the green light to jack up their prices and to blame it on the carbon price.
Mr Morrison interjecting—
But, thankfully, most Australian businesses have been turning their back on the invitation to join the Leader of the Opposition's reckless scare campaign. We all recall the dodgy pamphlet that was distributed by the Leader of the Opposition to butchers all around this country. We remember that pamphlet.
The Australian Meat Industry Council represent butchers all around the country. This pamphlet was drawn to their attention and they decided to write to their members in their newsletter and comment on it, saying: 'The federal opposition leader recently provided a flyer to many small business owners allegedly providing encouragement to increase prices as a result of the carbon tax.' Further, they say, 'AMIC strongly recommends that you do not claim that price increases are a direct result of the introduction of the carbon tax'—and, wait for it—
Mr Tony Smith interjecting—
'or display material to this effect which may have been provided by third parties'—third parties like the Leader of the Opposition. The Australian Meat Industry Council respect their customers and they respect the law and that is why they are asking their members to give your scare campaign the big chop. (Time expired)
My question is to the Assistant Treasurer. I refer the Assistant Treasurer to the electricity bill from QEnergy to the Biggenden Meatworks in my electorate. This clearly shows that there is a GST on the carbon tax component of the bill. Why did the Assistant Treasurer deny this fact to the Australian people and can he now confirm that it is a tax on a tax?
The goods and services tax, of course, is a tax on the final cost of the supply of goods and services. You ought to know about it because you introduced it. You introduced it after the former Prime Minister said he would never ever introduce it.
Opposition members interjecting—
When legislation was introduced in order to give effect to the carbon price we specifically excluded the carbon price from the imposition of the GST. The GST of course is a tax on the final cost of the supply of goods and services. If the introduction of the carbon price were to lead to some sort of windfall in the GST then your state Liberal premiers would be the first to be out there leading the cheer squad in support of its introduction.
The truth of the matter is that GST revenues have been written down. Go and talk to your state Liberal premiers. Member for Flynn, go and have a word to Mr Newman and ask him about whether or not he is receiving some sort of GST windfall from the introduction of the carbon price. He will do what the state premiers do every day of the week: whinge and whinge and whine, and they will keep doing that until a federal government—not this one—accedes to their request to jack up the price of the GST.