House debates

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Carbon Pricing

12:39 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I do not come to this place lightly to speak at any time, and in this case the conversation I am having with the Australian people is, in my humble judgment, worthwhile raising. I do not come here to speak about issues that are of no import to me or to my electorate or to the Australian people.

It is 40 days since I wrote letters to the editor in my local area challenging the government, through Greg Combet, to respond to a Greg Sheridan article in the Weekend Australian of 7 July. Forty days has great significance—both biblically and in any consideration of what may be brought forward—and it is 40 days today since my challenge to Greg Combet, or anybody in the government, to respond to the article on the carbon tax that Greg Sheridan wrote for the Weekend Australian. That article pointed out some great problems that the carbon tax will cause for Australia and compared them to what is happening internationally.

We often have to have a conversation with the Australian community about the policies that the government of the day may be progressing. I said in the main chamber yesterday that one thing that I will give John Howard credit for, whether you agreed with his propositions and policies or not, is that he was always brave enough to go into the parliament and do his best to explain to the Australian people what his policy was and why he was introducing that policy. He took up every opportunity to do that. He did it on talkback radio. So I would have thought that, on something as crucially important—as it has been presented to the Australian people—as the carbon tax and the need for that carbon tax and why it is being put in place, it would be absolutely proper for the government to respond to an article like this from Greg Sheridan in the Australian that goes through and points out opinion from McKibbin and Linacre that there are issues that will affect this nation over a long period of time. While there has been argument that these issues are happening overseas, they are proving in this article that this is actually not happening overseas. Other countries are not introducing a carbon tax at the level that we are introducing it, or are not introducing a carbon tax nationwide et cetera. So I put that challenge out to Greg Combet or anybody in the government. Do not respond to me with just some spin but respond to me—through my local papers, if you like—with arguments that address clearly every point that Greg Sheridan made in that article.

Why is it important to me? Not because I want to make a political statement but because I actually care about my own community. An article today by Mark Latham, the former leader of the Labor Party, says that there has been no impact whatsoever of the carbon tax and that my leader is out of order. It may not affect the whole of Australia in the way it affects me locally. Those of you who know my electorate and the electorate of Gippsland know that we have thousands of years of reserves of brown coal, from Morwell all the way down to South Gippsland. Why are we affected in a manner that is clearly different to everybody else right across the nation? The power stations in my electorate, which supply Victoria's and much of the nation's power, are directly affected by the carbon tax in that they will be brought to a place where they are unviable. If your power stations are unviable, then you have considerations over their buyback, which the government has to this point not been able to effect. So we have at this stage great confusion and a lack of confidence, and 12,000 megawatts taken out of the Latrobe Valley means 12,000 jobs that will be taken away. I call on the government today: please, after 40 days, respond to the Greg Sheridan article. I call on Greg Combet particularly: forget the spin; please respond directly to the Greg Sheridan article.