House debates

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Clean Energy Amendment (International Emissions Trading and Other Measures) Bill 2012, Clean Energy (Charges — Excise) Amendment Bill 2012, Clean Energy (Charges — Customs) Amendment Bill 2012, Excise Tariff Amendment (Per-tonne Carbon Price Equivalent) Bill 2012, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Per-tonne Carbon Price Equivalent) Bill 2012, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Per-tonne Carbon Price Equivalent) Bill 2012, Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge — Auctions) Amendment Bill 2012; Second Reading

8:29 pm

Photo of Bob BaldwinBob Baldwin (Paterson, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

Okay. Businesses like Tailor Made Fish Farms should be rewarded not penalised for their innovation and hard work. It does not matter whether you are a dairy or chicken producer, nursing home or tourist operator, or a manufacturer—or indeed any industry. You have been slugged by this mendacious, deceptive government whose current leader, prior to the last election, said: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' Whilst the carbon tax is charged at $23 a tonne—it does apply equally across all energy tariffs—reduced off-peak energy pro rata has gone up by around 30 per cent because of the carbon tax. Yes, peak energy may have gone up 10 per cent but other tariffs have gone up exponentially, because it is a tonne rate not related to the tariff. This government does not seem to get it.

This Labor carbon tax, that was based on a mendacious, deceptive statement to the Australian people, is a dead weight around Australian businesses when they can least afford it. The maths is simple: the carbon tax will increase costs to businesses and households, reduce competitiveness, erode investment confidence and cost jobs. Tourism is extremely important to me, both in my electorate of Paterson and in the portfolio I represent on this side of the House.

The tourism sector comprises some 350,000 tourism connected businesses, many of which are sole traders or classic small businesses, and when combined with hospitality they employ around one million Australians. Everyone in the tourism industry will pay more under this carbon tax. Airfares will increase, bus fares will increase, train and ferry fares will increase, restaurant meals and drinks will increase. All businesses will face a minimum 10 per cent rise and up to 30 per cent rise in off-peak electricity costs. This will mean higher rates for hotel rooms, higher entry fees for park attractions and higher operating costs for tourist operators. This means that tourists will have to pay more. They will have to pay more for a cruise to the reef, more to go on a whale-watching trip to Port Stephens, on boats like Moonshadow, and more to use Brisbane's ferries. They will have to pay more to travel from Tasmania to Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania. The costs just keep going up.

Minister, what do you say to the 150 exhibitors at today's Penrith Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo? They have seen excessive hikes in their electricity bills. Richard Emerson from the South West Rocks Tourist Park, has seen his three most recent electricity bills include a carbon charge. He has seen his price for electricity go up $570 in August, $600 in September and $550 in October. I hasten to add that this is also the off-season—I shudder to think what the bill will be during the summer months, during Christmas holidays, when people are using air conditioning and other such electrical appliances. Our tourism industry is a price-point-sensitive market that can ill afford these increases.

I have heard the mendacious claims, from the minister, of how this carbon tax will save the Great Barrier Reef. I have been to the Great Barrier Reef on a number of occasions and have worked with people like Col McKenzie, head of the Association of Marine Park Operators. He advised me that Quicksilver was going to pay $250,000 in carbon tax in the six cents-per-litre fuel increases. Now, under the environmental management charge rebate, they will be rebated $400,000. So they are going to profit $150,000. Good luck to them. By way of contrast, Big Cat cruises—which goes out to Green Island and transports over 100,000 people—has no rebate fees, yet has a fuel bill increase of $100, 000 per annum. Where is the level playing field? It is not there. This carbon tax applies to tourism operations in Australia but not if you go to Bali or Fiji.

We are already suffering the impact of a high dollar. What we do not need is a carbon tax that will further disadvantage Australian industry and make us less competitive. What this government does by its actions is support a reverse tariff. Straight after the election I will line up with our leader, Tony Abbott, to get rid of this insidious tax.

I seek leave to table electricity bills, seeing that the Leader of the House asked for them today, and two electricity bills from Tailor Made Fish Farms showing the increase from $7,149. 23 to $9,535.38, and the electricity bills from Stroud Community Lodge showing their electricity bill going up in a 12-month period from $13,736 to $16,840.

Leave not granted.


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