Monday, 14 July 2014
Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2014; Second Reading
I thought it might be helpful to set out important matters that happened in and around the Australian Senate for the public interest. During last Wednesday night, Palmer United senators considered a draft amendment for the repeal of the carbon tax. The draft amendment was one the government and the Palmer United team had negotiated. Based on advice the Palmer United senate team received on Wednesday night, the position to them was clear. It was not mandatory for any savings brought about by the repeal of the carbon tax to be passed on to consumers of natural gas and electricity; our senators required that there be a mandatory pass on. This is not what the Palmer United team wanted.
If Australian families, industries and citizens are not going to receive the reduction to their electricity and natural gas bills, the Palmer United Senate team resolved that it could not, in moral conscience, vote for the repeal of the carbon tax. Palmer United took a positive approach and re-drafted the amendment to the effect of delivering reductions to electricity and natural gas, and clarified this with the government, who were supportive of that action. So, the benefit of the repeal of the carbon tax is that it would deliver a real reduction to generators of electricity and producers of natural gas and to the consumers of those commodities.
Palmer United supports the bill and the amendment that will be brought forward in the detailed consideration of the bill. The amendment to that bill—proposed today, I believe, and to be moved by the government during the detailed consideration stage later today—will allow and guarantee a reduction in electricity and gas to all Australians and to all businesses. If such changes are not passed on to consumers and enterprises, any entity not doing so will be subject to 250 per cent of the cost savings that have not been passed on to the consumers. This requirement applies only to the suppliers of natural gas and electricity or a bulk SGG importer in respect of supply of synthetic greenhouse gases. These requirements affect fewer than 100 entities in Australia but impact upon the lives of 23 million Australians, who have suffered under the carbon tax for too long a period.
We stand today on the edge of time, and destiny is ours to grab for our nation. There can be no justification to removing the carbon tax if it does not improve the lives of our citizens. We must have a mandatory requirement that the price of energy be reduced by the savings from the removal of the carbon tax, which no longer has to be paid. We must mandate that the electricity and gas costs for Australian families, single mothers and pensioners must be reduced by the abolition of the carbon tax. There must be a reduction of the costs of energy to our industries and our businesses to ensure their competitiveness and bring down the cost of production and the cost of employing people so more jobs can be created, so more Australians may find satisfaction and direction in gainful employment. The cost of running our schools, our hospitals and our institutions must benefit from lower energy costs.
There is no justification for the carbon tax. The carbon tax sets the price of carbon at a far higher price than applies to the rest of the world. It is higher than the ETS in Europe and much higher than the ETS in New Zealand. We must stand on the right side of history, and the right side of history is standing up for the Australian people, for their livelihood and for their future.
Climate change is a global problem, and it needs a global solution. Australian families cannot bear the responsibility for this matter for the whole world, when Australian trading partners fail to act and are not united on the issue. For Australia to act alone and impose a tax on carbon at this time has only placed a tax on jobs and discouraged investments. The cost of energy for all Australians shows a lack of confidence in our community for investment and growth to allow our business to employ more people and to allow economic stimulation to be undertaken.
Mr Sukkar interjecting—
I was a member of the party over there four years ago. I said it then. This is so we can have more economic revenue and more revenue for government. More revenue will mean more resources for the government, which will mean more hospitals, more schools and a rising standard of living.
If the day comes that our major trading partners of China, the United States of America, the European Union, Japan and Korea set up an ETS then they will know that Australia is also serious about an ETS because our senators plan to move in the Senate an ETS dependent upon our trading partners also acting in that regard. It has been said that when our trading partners set up an emissions trading scheme they will require that their trading partners, including Australia, exporting to their countries pay an emissions trading tax upon the import of those products if their governments do not have an environmental trading scheme. In these circumstances, if Australia does not have an emissions trading scheme, Australia's exporters will be paying a tax to another country instead of to Australia.
Australia needs all the revenue it can get to meet the hopes and aspirations of the people of this country and the people of the world. The world is constantly changing and our ability to adapt to change and to keep an open mind on issues which affect all of us is what really matters. It is not about the Labor way or the Liberal way; it is the right way that is important for Australia and the world.
True to our promise to the Australian people at the last election, Palmer United senators will vote in the Senate to abolish the carbon tax. In so doing, Palmer United senators will support the initiatives that the government will foreshadow later on today in the consideration in detail of the bill. Removal of the carbon tax requires that all producers of energy in this country are required by law to pass on to all consumers of energy the savings from the repeal of the carbon tax. Action by Palmer United senators will make Australian industries more competitive internationally and the lives of our people more manageable.
Carbon tax, as I have said, is an arbitrary tax. It sets a price, as we know, far above the level of the international price of carbon. It disadvantages all Australians and it must be repealed. To introduce an increase in excise and indexation is, in our view, not the answer. If New Zealand can join the international community, why can't Australia? Acting alone, Australia cannot change the world or climate change. We must not act just ourselves as an isolated island where our carbon share is less than one per cent of the world's emissions. We must think of the global situation and a global solution not just ourselves but for all our children and all the children of the world not just in our time but for all time.
Time waits for no man. The challenges we face are not easy but face them we must—and face them we can together. Climate change must have a global solution. There are moves around the world. Many countries are failing to act because they are unsure of how this issue will be dealt with by other nations. Australia has the opportunity to set the standard. We can act as a catalyst for the whole world and set a fair framework which the world can follow. In understanding climate change, we must remain ever vigilant and aware that Australia is part of an international community and, more importantly, of what the global community can do together to make the lives of those who inhabit this planet more secure. Together we can achieve the extraordinary. President Obama of the United States has shown great leadership in encouraging all countries to act on an emissions trading scheme.
In voting for the abolition of the carbon tax, Palmer United senators will move later on in the week to establish an emissions trading scheme which would only become effective once Australia's main trading partners also take action to establish such a scheme. These actions must be set based on the actions of our leading trading partners—China, the United States of America, the European Union, India, Japan and Korea. We need to ensure that the jobs and enterprises of all Australians will not be disadvantaged.
We in Palmer United encourage all members of this country to support the government in their initiative to ensure that the benefits from the abolition of the carbon tax flow on to our industries and to our people. The world will know once we act that they can be sure that Australia will respond to a global emissions trading scheme that promotes international trade and prosperity.
As John Kennedy said many years ago:
For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.
When truth triumphs over injustice everyone is a winner. The inconvenient truth is a truth that what we must face together—not alone and isolated on an island but together as a united international community that can bring about real change.
The Palmer United Party's role in the Senate is to keep faith with the Australian people. Listening is one of the most important things we can do in this place and in the Senate. By listening we can learn from others and make changes before change changes us. As Australians we must put the interests of our people before our own individual interests and the interests of all people of the world ahead of all else.
As has been said, we need an open mind. This is called for by the need for a better mutual understanding and mutual respect. An open mind will enable us to have an objective and realistic understanding of each other. We can discover not only what divides us but what we have in common. We have more in common in the common future that binds us together. At least we can see to it that the differences will not result in clashes and confrontation. An open mind will also enable us to be more appreciative, accommodating and supportive of each other's concerns and priorities.
Despite all the talk about climate change in the world, we are still a developing world with a huge population and we still face various problems of unbalanced development, poverty and environmental degradation. We seek a better world for Australia and for all citizens of the world so that one day man can be what he was meant to be: free and independent.
The abolition of the carbon tax is the first step in allowing Australian enterprises to compete, increase exports, employ more people and, more importantly, allow Australians to pay lower electricity and gas prices and relieve some of the pressures that have been placed on families right across this nation. That is why Palmer United took a stand in the Senate—to ensure that all Australians would be dealt with fairly by the abolition of the carbon tax.