House debates

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Carbon Pricing

3:01 pm

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

I second the motion. It is vital that standing orders are suspended to give the Prime Minister the opportunity to come back into this House to explain to the Australian people why she believes her job security is more important than the job security of millions of workers across Australia. This suspension is necessary because the Prime Minister twists and turns every day and every question time and refuses to provide the Australian people with the answers to their concerns about this carbon tax. This suspension is necessary because the Prime Minister arrogantly dismisses concerns about the job security of others because she is so selfishly focused on her own job security.

Who could blame the Minister for Foreign Affairs for wanting to get his old job back? After all, it was this Prime Minister who convinced him to drop his carbon price scheme, and then she used it against him to take his job from him, and revenge is a powerful motivator. Yes, revenge is a very powerful motivator. But this Prime Minister is running from accountability. She is refusing to acknowledge the concerns about the impact of the carbon tax and the dishonest way in which it is being foisted upon the Australian people.

Last week I visited a furniture manufacturer in Cowra in the electorate of Hume with the member for Hume. The story that I was told is being repeated in thousands and thousands of businesses across Australia. That is why this suspension is necessary. This business was established 30 years ago. Its success is based on the efforts and energy and commitment of a local family, taking a risk, building a business and creating jobs and opportunities for local people. It is currently employing 130 people and using Australian plantation timber to make furniture. The owner spoke so passionately about his commitment to quality and innovation and efficiency and how that has allowed him to compete successfully against imports from China. He told me about his constant drive for greater efficiency and waste reduction, and his investment in capital which has enabled him to reduce the carbon footprint in his business by more than 30 per cent in the last couple of years.

This business has calculated what the future cost of electricity will be under this carbon tax. He has done the sums with his accountant and this proud small business manufacturer believes that the increases in costs because of this carbon tax will destroy his business, possibly within a couple of years of its introduction. He is not so concerned about his own welfare because he will just retire, but he is concerned about the welfare of the 130 employees who, he said, will struggle to find alternative work. He is particularly angry that competitors in China will not be impacted by an economy-wide carbon tax. His business will receive no compensation under this government's carbon tax legislation and this government gives him no recognition at all of his efforts to voluntarily reduce emissions from his business.

It is vital that standing orders are suspended to give the Prime Minister time to explain to this small business and the thousands and thousands like it across the country why manufacturers in this country should pay a carbon tax when competitors overseas will not. This Prime Minister should explain to the 130 employees of this Cowra business and their families why their jobs are threatened in order to save the Prime Minister's job. It is vital that standing orders are suspended so the Prime Minister can explain why a carbon tax is being imposed at a time when economic storm clouds continue to gather in Europe, there is great uncertainty about the global economy and talk about a recession, and consumer and business confidence remain fragile in this country. The Prime Minister must explain why she intends to further damage confidence by her insistence on a carbon tax. The latest Roy Morgan poll of consumer confidence shows that it continues to fall; it is significantly lower than it was 12 months ago.

This suspension is not only vital to give the Prime Minister an opportunity to explain why she broke her promise to the Australian people, it is an opportunity for every member of the Labor Party to consider their position. The member for Moreton said he will quit if the Prime Minister is successfully challenged for the leadership. He said:

This is not about loyalty to Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, it's about loyalty to the people of Moreton … This is about keeping faith with the people who put me in office.

I say to the member for Moreton and I say to the members opposite: to keep faith with their electorates they must honour the election promise the Prime Minister took to the last election when she uttered those infamous words, 'There will be no carbon tax under any government I lead.' If the Labor members want to keep faith with the Australian people, they must hold her to that promise—no carbon tax. (Time expired)


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