House debates

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Carbon Pricing

4:51 pm

Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is often reported that Australia currently has a two-speed economy, but in the electorate of Flynn I believe that we have a three-speed economy. The first tier is going gang busters. The second tier is waiting with bated breath to see how the carbon tax will affect their industries. The third tier is Struggle Street.

The second tier is Gladstone, Emerald and other parts of the Central Highlands, which are going gang busters. In Gladstone we will be the recipient of four new gas plants, owned by QCG, which is part of British Gas; APLNG, which is owned by ConocoPhillips, an American company; Santos and a Malaysian company; and Arrow Energy, which is owned by Shell, and its Chinese partner. There is also a proposed Wiggins Island project, which will double the berthing of coal ships in the Port of Gladstone; rail substation upgrades; harbour dredging; expansion of the Rolleston coalmine; a huge coalmine at Wandoan; Cockatoo Coal at Baralaba; and Blackwater and Emerald are also getting on the bandwagon of coalmines, with a lot of them at the stage of getting finance—of course, that will depend on what happens in Europe and China, because all these coalmines et cetera have to be funded by Chinese dollars. And the guys who are benefiting from that are the workers who work on these coal projects. The wages are fantastic in anyone's language—between $150,000 and $250,000 a year for trades and non-trades people; their housing is supplied, their food is supplied. Companies like Hastings Deering are importing a lot of Euclids and trucks and big mining machinery from America. That is why our trade balance will always be out of whack with America—because of the importing of heavy vehicles. Hire companies and airlines are all doing very well.

On the third tier are companies like Cement Australia, who are competing with the high Australian dollar and imports from overseas. We have three coal fired power stations—one at Stanwell, one at Callide and one at Gladstone. These are under threat, when Bob Brown, the Leader of the Greens, says he does not want coal fired power stations in Australia.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source


Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a disgrace. These companies employ a lot of people and produce reasonably cheap power at this stage—but we all know, with the carbon tax, the price of it is going to go through the roof, to the extent that Rio has already divested some of their properties, their manufacturing plants, one of which is now called Pacific Aluminium. That is part of the business they are getting ready to sell off. But who wants to buy a smelter which has a high-usage of electricity? And who wants to buy a coal fired power station, when some of the people in this House want to knock it down? It is not a good investment area for those people.

The last tier is those on Struggle Street, as I call them. These are people like pensioners and people on fixed incomes; police officers; teachers; salespeople; shop assistants—those type of people who are on incomes but do not own their own houses. The housing rentals in the area, whether it be Moranbah, Emerald or Gladstone have gone through the roof. We have people sharing houses at $300 per week for a room. There are people living in cars, in caravans and so on and so forth, but it is the people who are working in the industries that do not have the ability to make the big money. These are the problems we face in my electorate. Not-for-profit organisations, local fishermen and trawlers are all in trouble. One thing we all have in common in my electorate is that we all lack infrastructure. Infrastructure is what we need from this government.