Thursday, 24 May 2012
Matters of Public Importance
The Speaker has received letters from the honourable member for Flinders and the honourable member for Chifley proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. As required by standing order 46(d), Mr Speaker has selected the matter which, in his opinion, is the most urgent and important; that is, that proposed by the honourable member for Flinders, namely:
The impact of the carbon tax on jobs and the cost of living
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—
The carbon tax was, very simply, designed to destroy jobs in the aluminium sector, it was designed to destroy jobs in the electricity sector and it was designed to destroy jobs in the food-cooling and trucking industries—and it is doing that right now. Let me begin with a real world example. Yesterday Norsk Hydro announced the loss of 344 jobs at its Kurri Kurri plant in the Hunter, right on the doorstep of the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency's own seat. This plant was started in the 1960s precisely because of the cheap electricity available to it. Its foundation stone, its fundamental principle, was that it had access to cheap electricity. For those reasons, this plant at Kurri Kurri was established. For those reasons, for the best part of 40 years there has been employment in the aluminium sector. But all of that is coming to a halt.
What did Norsk Hydro said in its statement yesterday? The government would have us believe that the carbon tax is simply a coincidence, that it is, like every other misfortune, just bad luck, somebody else's fault, something else coming along. But the statement from the company could not have been clearer:
Following a thorough review it is clear that the plant will not be profitable in the short term with current market prices, while long-term viability will be negatively affected by a number of factors including increasing energy costs and the carbon tax.
Let us look at what is happening here. With Norsk Hydro, we see that there is a bad situation, a difficult climate, for aluminium production in Australia. The worst thing you could do is take their long-term comparative advantage of relatively low energy costs—the reason that this plant was created in this place—and trash it. That is what the carbon tax does, and the evidence from the company could not have been clearer.
What was the government's response? Did the government say, 'We're sorry, we acknowledge it, we realise it'? The government went into denial. The minister for climate change said in his press release yesterday:
I have spoken with the company today, which confirmed that today's announcement has been driven by current financial losses that are unrelated to the carbon price …
So it was nothing to do with the carbon price. We thought: this does not seem right. The Leader of the Opposition asked the minister for climate change directly about statements by the company. At 2:29 pm yesterday the minister for climate change said in this House:
I spoke to a company representative again today in relation to this issue who emphasised to me that the announcement today is not driven by the implications of the carbon price.
The Prime Minister then said:
Minister Combet has spoken directly to the company today, and they are very clear that their current financial pressures have nothing to do with the carbon price.
That was despite the fact that, in its statement, the company was express, clear and absolute. But what we then discovered this morning was that the minister knew all along that the carbon tax was absolutely at the heart of it. In an interview with Aaron Carney on ABC Radio in Newcastle this morning the minister for climate change was forced to fess up that the company said something very different. He said about the discussions with him personally: 'They have described it as one of many factors in the long term.'
What are we saying here? The company told the minister. The minister said to the parliament: 'They never talked to me about it; it was never one of the factors.' The company told the minister. They also told the world via press release that the carbon tax was fundamental to their decision. The company told the minister and he deceived the parliament. The company told the world. We all knew, and the Prime Minister denied it. So what we have from this government is a denial about the jobs impact of the carbon tax, a denial about the very thing the carbon tax was intended to do.
Let us look at their own modelling. Treasury's modelling says there will be a 60 per cent reduction in aluminium production in Australia compared with what would have been the case without the carbon tax. This is not against other factors; this is against the sole variable of the carbon tax. Treasury's modelling, released late last year, says the carbon tax will see a 60 per cent reduction in aluminium production in Australia. And that is what it was intended to do; that is the way it operates. It reduces Australia's emissions by moving our production offshore to China. That does not help the world, it does not help Australia, but it sure helps China.
And so we see clear express Treasury modelling—undeniable. We have a clear express statement from the company that employed those 344 workers who will now lose their livelihoods, who will now be seeking work, who will now be wondering how they can meet their mortgage, pay their commitments and deal with the concerns of their family. These are real jobs expressly linked to the carbon tax by the company and then all denied by the government—except that the minister had to concede that what he said in this place yesterday was simply not true. And the situation for the aluminium industry and jobs gets worse. As we see, Bell Bay in Tasmania is under review. Point Henry in Victoria is under review. And, yes, it is absolutely true that there are real and profound challenges with the high dollar and with the low metals price in relation to aluminium production. That makes it even more the case that this is the worst possible time to impose a unilateral tax on Australian production that does not apply to the product of overseas competitors being brought into Australia.
The government will say, 'Don't worry; we're giving them compensation.' The Aluminium Association's own work shows that the bill for the aluminium sector will quadruple as that compensation collapses and as the price of the carbon tax increases. Over 10 years the impact on the industry will quadruple, and that is the way they make decisions about capital allocations. That is the way they make decisions about who has a job and who does not have a job. That is the real world of decision making in business in Australia, and what we see here is that jobs are being expressly, clearly and absolutely destroyed because the cost of electricity is being driven up, because the cost of operating an aluminium plant, with their direct emissions, is being driven up and, compared with the rest of the world, an already bad situation is being made worse.
Let me turn to the cost of living side. The question in relation to electricity is absolutely central. We hear from the government, 'Look, there's only been a 10 per cent increase'—and we should be thankful for that! The New South Wales Treasury says this will become a 15 per cent increase in short order. The Electricity Supply Association, who, I would remind the government, are the very people that issue the bill—not the government; the Electricity Supply Association members issue the bill—say it will be a 20 per cent increase because there is a second whammy coming in April 2014, when they have to buy forward permits under the government's scheme. So that second price is coming as sure as night follows day—not to mention incremental price rises along the way.
For this year, if you are in New South Wales, you probably face a 16 per cent increase in your electricity bill, of which half or more is coming from the carbon tax. A bad situation is being made far worse. When the government says, 'Look, it's only 10 per cent now,' let us be absolutely clear that the next 10 per cent is coming right down the track and so we do this on top of what KPMG says is a 74 per cent rise in the cost of electricity over the last five years in my own city of Melbourne. All of this means that consumers will pay the bill. They are the ones that are going to pay the price.
Let us go forward to councils, because we heard from the minister today that the councils are not going to pay. Well, 104 councils from around Australia—Albury, Ballina, Bathurst, Bega, Bellingen, Murray, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Orange, Bundaberg, Cairns, Central Highlands, Etheridge, Gold Coast; it goes on right around the country—received a letter from the Clean Energy Regulator in the last week which said: 'You are possibly operating a significant landfill which potentially could mean that you will be liable under the Clean Energy Act. Please advise in writing by 31 May 2012.' The reason? It is because 'you are likely to be a liable entity for the 2012-13 financial year'. That entry will be recorded in the register.
What does that mean? It means that councils around Australia, firstly, do not know for certain whether they are about to be hit; 104 councils are struggling to understand whether they will be a target. Secondly, the price of going to the tip is going up as of 1 July, and the minister knows it and the parliamentary secretary knows it. Let me give you an example from the Prime Minister's own electorate that this price rise is coming now. It comes from the budget papers on the published record of Wyndham council. Wyndham council is interesting because it is in the Prime Minister's own electorate. What have they budgeted as the amount of money they have to raise through increased rates because of the carbon tax on their landfill this year? $13.02 million. One council, Wyndham City Council, in one electorate, the Prime Minister's electorate, needs $13 million precisely because of the impact of the carbon tax.
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
If the parliamentary secretary doubts it, I am happy to table the Wyndham City Council's public records for this year. Let me go further than that, though, because the question is: why has this happened? It is because they are going to have a liability for potentially 30 or 40 years for the waste which is deposited as of 1 July. The government tries to say, 'Look, they don't have to worry about that for 12 months.' But they have to collect the money now to cover that charge, because in 12 months time they are not going to be able to find who deposited the waste, who put it there. That is why Treasury has advised the Manningham City Council that they should be increasing rates now. The government knows that the price rises are coming, the government is advising councils that the price rises are coming and the government is in denial that city tips, council tips and regional tips right around the country are about to be hit. But you cannot walk away from 104 councils which have received letters from the Clean Energy Regulator in the last week.
That then brings me to the last area, the fact that we are going to see rises in refrigeration. The government says, 'Look, it is only going to be a little bit.' Here is a letter from Iceman Transport Refrigeration's Cynthia Marshall to the member for Moreton, Graham Perrett. In it she says that the carbon tax component is going to take the cost of her refrigerant gas from $5,200 a month to $20,200 a month. It is going to quadruple the price. And lest you think that this firm has it wrong, the government's own Calculating the Equivalent Carbon Price on Synthetic Greenhouse Gases information brochure shows that some prices will be, in carbon tax equivalent for a tonne of refrigerant gas, $75,000. That is not a fabrication. That is not somebody else's view. That is the government's own information. So that is what is happening in the real world: people are paying with their jobs and people are paying with their hip pockets. It is no surprise that we are seeing the most dishonest advertising campaign put forward by a government in living memory. What we saw on budget night was that the campaign was taken to $70 million. It included an extra $36 million of advertising—$14 million between budget day and 1 July. That is $270,000 a day of public money to tell them why they should learn to love the carbon tax—except for the fact that it does not mention the carbon tax. Not once does $36 million buy you a mention of the carbon tax. Last night we heard why: an honest official—whose name I will not raise, because I do not want him to be purged—said before estimates that the Prime Minister's own department excluded the name because people might be confused if carbon tax was mentioned. They did it on the basis of information that the term 'carbon tax' confused people, because it really let them know that they are the ones who are going to pay with their jobs and they are the ones who are going to pay through their hip pocket. It is time this government was finally honest— (Time expired)
I am very happy to rise today to speak on this matter of public importance. The topic, the impact of the carbon tax on jobs and the cost of living, is a very significant one. It is important because our moves to price carbon through an emissions trading scheme will make a fundamental change to the nation's economy. Our plan to cut carbon pollution and drive investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure, such as solar, gas and wind, will help build the clean energy future which future generations of this country deserve. It will help our children. It will help our grandchildren. It will reduce our emissions and position Australian business for the development of the global low-carbon economy which is coming. It will position Australia for the jobs that come with that global low-carbon economy, which I know those opposite do not want to think about because they want to put their heads in the sand. They do not want to think about the future that is coming. They do not want to think about what the rest of the world is doing to grapple with the problem of global carbon pollution—
Mr Christensen interjecting—
to grapple with the problem of dangerous climate change, which I know the member for Dawson denies the existence of. Instead of actually embracing a package that would secure Australia's future in a carbon constrained world, the coalition is engaging—and we have heard some more of it today—in a hysterical, shameful and misleading scare campaign. Their claim is that the carbon price will drive up the cost of living and that Australians will be worse off. I need to be clear: nine of 10 Australian households will be receiving a tax cut or a pension rise or a benefit rise through our package to help with the cost of living.
It is amazing to see the Liberal Party pretend that they care about the welfare of working Australians, given their track record of failing to provide support. Just two weeks ago our Labor government delivered an excellent budget, which provided a substantial boost to low-income households—again, something that those opposite do not care about—only to have that same excellent budget derided as 'class warfare' by the negative and out-of-touch Leader of the Opposition. If you think providing support to parents to help with sending their kids to school is class warfare, if you think delivering tax cuts for all taxpayers earning up to $80,000 a year is class warfare, then you are completely out of touch and completely beholden to your Liberal mates like Clive Palmer at the expense of ordinary Australians.
The coalition's attitude to this budget shows just how shallow the supposed care that the Liberal Party and the National Party profess for working people really is. All they actually care about is their mates with deep pockets. We are interested in governing for the many and not just for the few. If the opposition cared one bit about the cost of living and about making ends meet, they would be supporting the clean energy package and the budget, because both of them will make millions of Australians better off. You know that the best way to learn about what the coalition really thinks on helping families deal with the cost of living is by looking at what the Liberal Party did when they were in office and what they do when it comes to important votes in this place. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, you cannot believe anything he says unless he writes it down. Better still, look at the actual record of the coalition.
The best way for Australians to have a decent life is through a well-paid, secure job. If we had listened to the Leader of the Opposition, if we had listened to the opposition who voted against our stimulus package in 2009, we would be in a situation where hundreds of thousands more Australians would be out of a job. Around 70 per cent of the stimulus package was infrastructure which has left a long-term legacy for our nation. Not only does the opposition oppose government action to secure jobs; when in office they brought in Work Choices. That was their record in office because they have never had a plan for our economy, except a race to the bottom by cutting pay and conditions of working people. Try dealing with cost-of-living issues when you have had your penalty rates cut or when you have been unfairly dismissed. The Liberals cannot help themselves. Only yesterday we saw more reports that the coalition want to return to what many on that side believe to this day to be their crowning achievement, which was Work Choices. They are talking behind closed doors in their party room, looking at ways they can strip away pay, strip away penalty rates, strip away conditions from working people.
We can hold our heads up high on the cost of living because we got rid of Work Choices. We have acted to make sure that people do have a job which is secure and that when they have a job it is fairly paid with good conditions. We can hold our heads up high because we acted to support jobs during the global financial crisis. And we can hold our heads up high because we have helped with the quality of living as well as with the cost of living by investing in services in health and education after years of coalition neglect. We have acted to improve services and we have acted to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. When we are talking about the cost of living we do need to sort out fact from fiction. There are so many false and misleading claims that have been made by this coalition opposition that I cannot begin to list them all, but they all stem from the Leader of the Opposition's desire to say and do anything to get into office. There is no abuse that he will not hurl, no misrepresentation that he will not make in order to put the position that he wishes to put. Really, they have long ago stopped basing any of their claims on reality. They claim that the price of everything is going to go through the roof, but they cannot add up.
I will just take one of the more recent spurious claims of the opposition. I am very pleased that at least a representative of the National Party is here. The National Party leader told parliament yesterday that the cost of—
Opposition members interjecting—
Sorry to insult you—that the cost of servicing a domestic refrigerator would go up by $300 a year. But to spend that much, the Leader of the Nationals would have to call technicians to his house to fully replace the refrigerant gas every five days and he would have to do this for a whole year. Whatever will they come up with next!
The opposition's claims stopped being based on reality a long time ago. They will say and do anything to whip up panic. They will hurl any abuse and misstate any fact—like the Leader of the Opposition claiming that the coal industry was going to die. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency dealt very effectively with that in question time. It is rubbish, like, indeed, the misrepresentations on the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter. We have just heard some of them being repeated by the member for Flinders.
I want to state a few things for the benefit of the House. The government is conscious absolutely of the pressures facing the aluminium industry but the issue needs to be considered in the context of aluminium prices peaking at US$3,300 per tonne but now being approximately US$2,000, a fall of 40 per cent. That collapse in aluminium prices has resulted in numerous closures of older, less competitive aluminium smelters around the world. Hydro Aluminium has consistently identified the strong Australian dollar, low metal prices and current international economic conditions as contributing to the financial problems at the smelter. The company has been clear that their current financial pressures have nothing to do with the carbon price, which is yet to commence—just to remind members of the House.
This was confirmed today in the Financial Review where the company stated—and this is the company talking here, not any suggestions by the government:
The carbon price is not a major issue compared to other factors.
The same report confirmed that the company is already losing $6 million to $7 million a month—and there is no carbon price in place. Of course that situation is a matter of regret, but what we do not need is those opposite coming into this House and pretending that the carbon price, which is yet to commence, is the reason—and that is what we have heard from those opposite—for closures in any part of the country, or the reason, indeed, for any business failure that they can point to.
We have had further spreading of misrepresentation by the member for Flinders in relation to councils. What he failed to say in mentioning the City of Wyndham is that the City of Wyndham supports the carbon price.
A government member: Whoops!
Whoops, indeed. What he failed to say in relation to the City of Wyndham is that the City of Wyndham provides waste services in its very large landfill to between eight and 10 other Melbourne councils and provides with its very large landfill services to a very large number of commercial firms which need to dump waste. Perhaps he did not know this. I have met with the City of Wyndham and discussed with them the way in which they are going to be meeting their obligation, and I did not hear from them any of the hysteria that the member for Flinders has been out and about with today. I did not hear any of the hysteria that the member for Flinders wants to spread. What I heard from the City of Wyndham, and the other councils who attended the meeting with me, was that they understand that the carbon price is coming in; they have made the calculations they need to make in order to be able to deal with it; they support the carbon price and they understand the way in which the mechanism works, which is that there are to be costs passed on. They understand that insofar as there are going to be rate rises for the ratepayers of the City of Wyndham that those rate rises will be in the order of 13c to 40c per household per week and that the household assistance package is $10.10 on average per household per week. So that it is more than able to deal with the small level of rate rises which will be associated with the carbon price, if indeed the particular council does need to introduce those rate rises.
So when the opposition gets up, as no doubt they will again, to tell us that the lights are going to go out or that the sky is falling in or that the beer will go flat, I would say to them: they know just how untrue their claims in relation to the carbon price are. They know the misrepresentations they are making and they are going to be sorely disappointed that we do not have the disasters which they are clearly looking for, because after 1 July we will be holding this opposition to account. I will be looking forward to going to Whyalla and reminding the citizens of Whyalla that their town did not become a ghost town—in fact, that their town is a growing town, despite the fact that we have a carbon price. I am looking forward to going to coal mines around the country and discussing with workers the nonsense that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition that the coal industry will die. And I am looking forward to going to industry around the country and telling workers the truth, unlike those opposite who think that it is appropriate conduct for them as an opposition to tell lies to the people of Australia about the affect—
I am very glad to have the opportunity to talk about the cost of living, because this Labor government is doing so much to help Australians. We are a Labor government and the reason why we are in this place is to act to improve people's lives, to make life easier, to improve services, to spread opportunity, to support working families. What we have from Tony Abbott's coalition is an anti-Labor party and they are anti-Labor because, no matter what we do, they oppose it. They are anti-Labor to their core because they oppose workplace rights and, at every opportunity they get, they cut services to working people. For a long time under the former Howard government, many Australians found themselves wondering why they were not able to share in the benefits of the boom, why services shrank, why costs and interest rates rose. An Abbott government would be no different. The budget has been well received by Australians. That is because it is a budget which helps Australians and all we have is Liberal opportunism that is seeking to take advantage of any downturn in the economy. Those opposite love to talk down the economy.
We need to keep steadily in mind what is at stake here. The government needs to act on climate change. Any responsible government of Australia needs to act on climate change. There is an absolute consensus among climate scientists that climate change is real, that there will be significant future impacts if no action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. A low carbon global economy is coming. It is up to us to decide whether we help Australian business take advantage of this or simply bury our heads in the sand, which is what those opposite wish to do.
There is no denying the fact that carbon tax is bad for business, it is bad for Australia. I only need to point to the evidence yesterday: Kurri Hydro—344 jobs to go. This morning at 10 o'clock the company started the consultation process to make the determination about the wind-up mothballing. So when the parliamentary secretary says he looks forward to going out into the community to meet the workers, I say to him, 'Don't bother going to Kurri because there will be no workers at the factory, there will be no workers at the aluminium smelter.'
What is misleading is that this parliamentary secretary has joined in the chorus with the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency by stating that Kurri Hydro say the carbon tax has not affected their decision to close the plant. I want to quote from correspondence, a press release and a letter I received yesterday from Mr Olaf Wigstol, the senior vice-president. It says in part:
Following a thorough review, it is clear that the plant will not be profitable in the short term with current market prices, while long-term viability will be negatively affected by a number of factors including increasing energy costs and the carbon tax.
Yesterday in the parliament, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency responded to a question from the Leader of the Opposition by saying:
I spoke to a company representative again today in relation to this issue who emphasised to me that the announcement today is not driven by the implications of the carbon price … .
That is misleading the House.
He backed it up with a press release dated yesterday which restated that the announcement is:
… driven by current financial losses that are unrelated to the carbon price, which does not begin until 1 July.
On the ABC in Newcastle on 1233 this morning, I was interviewed alongside Minister Combet. During the discussion it was put to him by Aaron Kearney who actually read the website that carbon tax was a factor. Minister Combet for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the member for Charlton who actually has a number of these workers living in his electorate said, 'It is not a critical cornerstone, they have described it as one of the many factors in the long term.' So I am going to be rather generous today. I am going to ask the minister to come in and correct the record because this minister has deliberately misled this House.
I withdraw unreservedly. But on Monday, if he does not come into the House and correct the record, I will put it to the Privileges Committee for examination. Deputy Speaker, there are 344 workers on top of the 150 that have already gone in Kurri. Will this parliamentary secretary go out there and meet them? No, he will not. Will the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency stand up for his constituents? No, he will not. Because this government and, in particular the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, are like an episode of Fawlty Towers. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency plays the role of Basil so well. Just don't mention the war. Don't mention the carbon tax, don't mention the war. It is an episode of Fawlty Towers. The sad reality is that Fawlty Towers is actually funny; this government is not, and the impacts of the decisions of this government will affect our nation dramatically.
In fact, modelling that was done will show that by 2050 Australia's aluminium industry could be slashed by 60 per cent and New South Wales Treasury estimates 18½ thousand job losses from the Hunter due to the carbon tax, and they have started. We can remember the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency during the waterfront dispute, standing with those workers—workers united will never be divided—standing up for their jobs. But when given the opportunity to stand up for the jobs of those people—some who live in the electorate of the minister and some who live in the electorates of the members for Hunter, Shortland and Newcastle and in my electorate—these members talk the talk but when it comes to walking the walk, the only thing they do is walk away. One would think they are like people who stand by conviction and beat their chest and deliver ultimatums. I would point to an ABC media interview just over a year ago, on 15 April 2011, when the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, warned this government, 'If one job is gone, our support for the carbon tax is gone.' Now, I expect it to be repealed 344 times because just in our patch that will be 344 jobs gone. But will Mr Howes now stand up to this government? Of course he will not, because he is one of the people who installed this Prime Minister—the same Prime Minister who promised there would be no carbon tax under the government that she led. What we are seeing is an episode of Fawlty Towers. Just do not mention the war, do not mention the carbon tax. It is disgraceful.
I turn for a moment to my own portfolio of tourism. We have asked this government many times, through Senate estimates and directly of the Prime Minister: what modelling have you done on a carbon tax and its implications for the tourism industry? There has been none—no modelling. Let me point to modelling that was done by one of the industry associations, the Tourism and Transport Forum, whose modelling in the submission they put to this government said that if you bring a carbon tax in 6,400 jobs would go. These are working families that this Prime Minister talks about wanting to support, but she is prepared to see, in the tourism industry alone, 6,400 jobs go.
They also said that the economic hit would be around $750 million off the bottom line. This is an industry that is already in financial trouble. They are going to have the carbon tax—oh, sorry; don't mention the war—imposed upon them. Qantas have said that the implications to them are around $150 million next year. Virgin have said that the cost implications to them are $45 million. People like Quicksilver and other cruise operators up on the Great Barrier Reef have said their cost impact in the fuel price increases alone will be $250,000 a year. This mob opposite do not understand business. If they understood business they would understand that we are actually in price-point-sensitive markets. The aluminium industry is a price-point-sensitive market but nowhere as much as the tourism industry. Now, a lot of those operators who are going to suffer this cost impost on 1 July have already forward-sold bookings for months and months to come on fixed prices. They cannot just lift their price because of the carbon tax, and what I fear is that even more jobs will go.
Members opposite, particularly those in the Hunter where these jobs will go—and this will only be the beginning—have an opportunity to come into this House next week and move a bill that will suspend the carbon tax until at least after the next election when people, like those 344 workers at Kurri who are going to go, will have a chance to say what they think, and it is about time this government started to listen. Those members opposite who represent tourism electorates have an opportunity to come in here and stand up for their workers who are going to lose their jobs. This mob over there are very good at talking the talk. They are outstanding at talking the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk the only thing they ever do is walk away from the workers. We have seen it from the minister for climate change, who when he was not in power championed the case for the workers but when he gets here says, 'Oh, sorry.' There are all these excuses, but just do not mention the war. Well, let me tell you, there is a war. The coalition is fighting a war to save jobs. The government is fighting a war to kill off jobs and they should be condemned for it.
I issue a simple challenge to the member for Paterson. If you want to put a privileges claim in against the member for Charlton, I will be following up with my own, because you just misled the House, claiming 345 jobs will be gone for a price that has not even come in. So when you are ready, we will be ready to meet that challenge.
Order! Member for Chifley, resume your seat. I said it in the Federation Chamber this morning: the use of the word 'you' is a reflection on the occupier of this chair. It is coming from both sides of this chamber and the Federation Chamber. In your comments just then you were saying 'you, you, you'. That is a reflection on me and other occupiers of the chair. I said this morning that I would not pull people up, but I will in future whilst ever they use that word 'you'.
I am grateful for the guidance and I will ensure it does not happen again. This place should be a forum for struggle. It should be a struggle for ideas. It is one of the biggest issues facing the country and it should have two sides being able to put up competing approaches to deal with this issue of climate change and how we respond. We have put a price on pollution. We recognise that with this issue you cannot keep putting it off, that in actual fact we need to embark on a major economic and environmental reform. We have put forward a comprehensive plan. Those opposite believe the best way to deal with it is to plant a stack of trees. Relying on the science and relying upon market-driven responses, we have put forward a solution. Those opposite cannot find one scientist or economist to back what they are saying.
On the way through, we have admitted, acknowledged and been quite upfront that there will be price impacts, but we have also provided a comprehensive and far-reaching assistance package. Their response is to take it away: pension increases—gone; family tax benefit increases—gone; tax threshold increases—gone. I did say that this place is a place for struggle but for those opposite I never thought it was a struggle for comprehension, to be able to understand what needs to be done. They are hard-pressed to understand that when you highlight a problem you should be able to find a solution or, if you are unable to do it, at least back a solution. They go around wringing their hands 24/7 about cost-of-living increases and pressures but then vote against the schoolkids bonus. When you are worried about jobs in the steel industry, you do not vote against a steel transformation plan. When you visit factories, slipping on your own crocodile tears about jobs, you do not go and cut $500 million of industry assistance or, worse still, sneer at efforts to protect 46,000 auto jobs in this country. We have had a number of them say, 'Why should we be defending an industry that's gone?'
There they are, writing off that industry, claiming it is not worth saving. That is what they are saying. That is their economic philosophy. How do you say you are worried about costs of living and not support people's means to meet those costs of living by holding on to their own jobs? And now we have an MPI claiming that the coalition has concern about both costs of living and jobs. You do not talk about tax relief for business and then say you are against a company tax rate cut. You do not do it.
It is absolute hypocrisy, as pointed out by the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. You do not say you want to see lower personal tax and then promise one million people that you will reduce the tax-free threshold. They talk about costs of living but fight against every single effort that we have put forward to help families and to secure jobs.
It is worth noting that nearly a million people taken out the taxation system are 60 per cent women. Hundreds of thousands of those people taken out will be students and young people. In denying those people a tax break the coalition seeks to give a tax break to the richest woman in the world; someone who, every single second of the day, earns as much as a worker on minimum wage earns in one single week. If you were a young person and you scored a job to help pay your way through TAFE or uni, what would you think of a political party that came along and said: 'We think you should pay more tax. We think Gina Rinehart should pay less, but we think you should pay more, and that is why we are reducing the tax-free threshold.' Talk about making life harder for young people! There they are, studying, trying to get ahead and to make their way in the world, and those opposite come along saying that they want to increase tax.
In my electorate 58,000 people will see a tax cut. In my electorate 19,000 will see an increase in family tax benefit payments and 24,000 pensioners will see a lift in their pension. Mind you, if you are concerned about cost-of-living increases—and I raise this with the member for Flinders because he talked a lot about my home state—5,000 of those 24,000 pensioners in the electorate of Chifley are worried that they will see an increase in their public housing rents because Barry O'Farrell will increase those rents just at the time we are providing assistance.
A shame indeed. We provide $10.10 in assistance through all the initiatives that we put forward as a transition to a clean energy future to cover the $9.90 average increase. That is a boost to help deal with cost-of-living increases. The member for Flinders has flung around all sorts of playdough stats here—
I am going to get to that point, don't you worry. The New South Wales government has made all sorts of claims about electricity price increases. In fact, it has been a roulette wheel of stats. The problem has been that the numbers have always gone down. They went from a point when they said that electricity prices would go up by 20 per cent in New South Wales and then, when it was challenged, it went down to 15 per cent. When it was challenged again it went down to 10 per cent, which is pretty much where the Treasury modelling anticipated that this would head.
The New South Wales government also did not take into account the economic growth, particularly the growth in renewables jobs that would occur in New South Wales, and they were roundly hounded for that. They did not take into account renewables jobs, and the Premier also welcomed the fact that New South Wales would be home to the Clean Energy Financing Corporation. They did not say no to that.
The member for Flinders talked a lot about my home state, but I want to give him some home truths. The New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy was out there claiming electricity prices in New South Wales would increase by 16 per cent, the bulk of this due to the carbon price. That was what he said. Eight per cent of that increase, or, as the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has indicated, roughly $3.30, would be as a result of what we are doing by putting a price on carbon. That eight per cent increase is compensated for—it is assisted. What happens to the other eight per cent in New South Wales that they will be paying as a result of what is happening with power prices in New South Wales?
Queensland, as the member for Moreton has pointed out, has the same deal. So where is the cost-of-living increase, or the assistance to help cover that cost-of-living expense, that we never hear from those opposite? We also had reference to landfills. I can inform the member for Flinders that the biggest driver of costs in New South Wales for taking rubbish to a tip is the waste management levy administered by the New South Wales government. This will continue to be administered by the New South Wales government into the future and will increase costs. Yet we never heard a word from the member for Flinders, or any of those opposite, on what would be provided to compensate or assist families on the way through.
You also might want to know that the New South Wales government was big about holding back on cost-of-living increases, yet we found out in the previous week that close to $300 increases in water bills will eventuate as a result of the New South Wales government backing a submission to IPAR to see those water bills go up.
Those opposite continue to perpetuate myths and mistruths about what will happen. They pretend that they know about the impact of cost-of-living increases but do nothing about it. (Time expired)
I rise to speak on this matter of public importance on carbon pricing to tell the House why the party that delivered us the pink batts fiasco, the green loans scandal, the school halls blow-out, the network tender debacle, the GroceryWatch and Fuelwatch embarrassments and the misguided and costly failures of the NBN has gone one step further by, in 38 days time, delivering to the Australian people—all 23 million of them—a carbon tax. This is a carbon tax that nobody voted for and a carbon tax that nobody wants. Let's not forget that this Prime Minister told the Australian people just five days before the last election, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Let's not forget this is the same Prime Minister who said that the Labor Party was 'the party of truth-telling'. This is the same Prime Minister who promised at the last election a citizens assembly—another gabfest—and instead has delivered the Australian people another tax grab. That is what we have to wait for in 38 days time.
We are here to discuss the impact of the carbon tax on the jobs and the cost of living of Australians. We are here to discuss why companies such as Toyota and Holden, Hydro Aluminium and OneSteel, ANZ, Westpac, Macquarie Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Qantas, Goodman Fielder, Telstra, 1st Fleet trucking, Pacific Brands and Murray Goulburn all have shed jobs this year. We are here to discuss why the only jobs that are being created in Australia are in the bureaucracy, because this government has announced a $3.2 billion Australian renewable energy agency, a $256 million clean energy regulator and a carbon cop, a $25 million climate change authority and the daddy of them all, the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
We are here to tell the Australian people that the only other jobs outside the bureaucracy and the Prime Minister's office that are being created are in the advertising industry, thanks to a $70 million taxpayer funded advertising campaign that does not mention the two words 'carbon tax'—you would probably have to spend an extra $30 million to get it out there. Of the $70 million, $36 million is being rushed out the door, a total of $270,000 a day. This is scandalous, because on 8 March in the Agea spokesman for the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency said no decision had been made on the future of advertising. In April in the HeraldSunit was reported: 'Last night a spokesman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said no decision had been made about whether to create more carbon tax ads.' Rubbish: we now know about the $70 million going out the door.
What are we going to get in 38 days time? We are going to get a $23 a tonne carbon tax that is going to hit Australian households by at least $515 a year—a carbon tax which will grow to $29 a tonne by 2016, $37 a tonne by 2020 and a shameful $350 a tonne by 2050. We are told by the Energy Supply Association of Australian that Australian consumers are already paying more than 70 per cent more for their electricity than their counterparts in the United States and 130 per cent more than their counterparts in Canada. What is going to happen on 1 July? Automatically gas and electricity are going up by 10 per cent. What is more we will be spending Australian taxpayer money to buy carbon permits overseas to the tune of $3½ billion by 2020 and a massive $57 billion by 2050, at a time when Europe Poll are investigating massive fraud with the carbon trading scheme. This is what Australian people have to look forward to.
Who is going to be hurt? Self-funded retirees are going to be hurt. They have written to me. Gabrielle Whiting is a constituent of mine. She is under the age of 65 and earns about $35,000 a year. She has gone to the government's own calculator on its website to work out how she goes under the carbon tax. Guess what? She is $251 a year worse off. Self-funded retirees have been forgotten by this government. What the carbon tax is going to do to my state of Victoria has been illustrated in a Deloitte report. This Deloitte report contains a quote from a Premier Ted Baillieu press release. He says as a result of their modelling, which is based on Treasury modelling, by 2015:
There will be 35,000 fewer jobs than would have been the case without a carbon tax.
Investment will be down almost $6.3 billion, or 6.6 per cent.
Per capita income will be more than $1,050 lower.
The Victorian State Budget will be almost $660 million worse off.
I know that in other states, like Queensland where are a number of my colleagues come from, similar Deloitte reports have found that the Queensland gross state product would be 2.76 per cent lower by 2020 and 4.11 per cent lower in 2050 with a carbon tax compared to without a carbon tax. These are destructive numbers—they are not just numbers, they are families and households.
We heard in the parliament today about Hydro Aluminium which will be closing down its Kurri Kurri plant which employs 344 people. We have heard that Qantas, OneSteel and BlueScope Steel have all lost more than 2,000 jobs and will be having a $400 million a year carbon tax bill. We have heard that aluminium output, on the basis of the government's own Treasury modelling, will be over 60 per cent lower after a carbon tax—in fact, the Australian chair of Rusal, the world's largest aluminium producer, has said the carbon tax is based on 'a very flawed assumption that our competitors are going to have similar or more aggressive carbon or energy policies attached to them'. Let's not forget that Rusal has a 20 per cent stake in Queensland Alumina, with 1,800 workers in Gladstone. Let's not forget that international capital is fungible and will move overseas if the costs of doing business in Australia are too great. That is why the CEO of BHP, Marius Kloppers, has called the tax a 'deadweight cost'.
If you look at Westfield, nearly 12,000 of their storeholders have had the carbon tax pricing built into their leases. If you look at dairy farmers, they are going to be paying up to $5,000 more per farm. If you look at irrigators, it is $282 a year more for them.