Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer of the statement of his own parliamentary secretary on Monday when he said, 'Small businesses don't pay the carbon price.' Does the Treasurer agree with his parliamentary secretary? If so, will he be issuing refunds to the over two million Australian small businesses for the average 10 per cent increase in retail electricity prices they have paid this year as a result of Labor's carbon tax?
I thank the member for his question because it gives me the opportunity to talk about a range of policies impacting on small business, and in particular our whole budget strategy, which supports jobs and growth and keeps the doors of small business open. If this country were faced with the sort of austerity policies put forward by the shadow minister for finance over there and our shadow Treasurer, the doors of small businesses would be closing right around the country. Of course, as everybody here knows, that was something they were particularly indifferent to at the end of February 2009, when they voted against a whole range of measures to support demand and to support small businesses in our community. We are particularly proud of what we have done in this area and most particularly we are proud of the initiative we have put in place through the instant asset write-off—a $6,500 instant asset write-off for millions of small businesses right around our country. I would urge everybody who is in small business—
Speaker, on a point of order: we are not talking about the budget that predicts lower growth and higher unemployment. This was about the carbon tax—
I know the member is indifferent to the instant asset write-off, worth over a billion dollars to small businesses—a major boost to their cash flow. Certainly it is understood by small business organisations if it is not understood by the shadow minister over there.
I was also asked about the impact of the carbon price. The shadow minister knows full well that it is paid by the largest companies in the country. They want to go round as part of their fear campaign and argue that somehow it is imposed directly on a whole host of businesses. He knows that is not true; it is simply part of their continuous fearmongering to obscure the fact that if they were in charge of this country they would take the axe to spending and they would send unemployment through the roof. That would lead to business closures. That is the sort of austerity plan they have for Australia, which they are trying to hide behind a commission of audit. There has been an experiment in this country in recent times. It is from Premier Newman in Queensland and it has produced the worst economic results of any state in the country.
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation. Will the minister update the House on international action to tackle dangerous climate change? How does this compare with predictions?
I would like to thank the member for Throsby for his question, because too often we hear these issues about climate change and action being taken in other countries misrepresented. We have heard it just a moment ago from the member for Indi, misrepresenting President Obama's speech last night outlining a plan to take action on climate change in the United States. Of course the opposition leader is a serial offender in this regard, constantly misrepresenting the action that is taken by our major trading partners on the issue of climate change—all pure deceit and mendacity, time and time again.
We know that carbon pricing started last week in Shenzhen in China and it will shortly commence in a number of other cities and provinces throughout China. Overnight President Obama announced a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change in the US. As the Prime Minister brought to the attention of the House a moment ago, he did emphasise his preference for a market-based mechanism to deal with this issue. But, of course, Republicans in the US congress, like the Liberal Party here, have been captured by extremists who block rational economic policymaking and deny facts and deny the climate science. That is what we are dealing with on that side of the House and that is what President Obama is dealing with in the US congress. President Obama's plan includes measures to reduce emissions from coal fired power generation, to support renewable energy, to promote energy efficiency and to promote investment in clean energy innovation. It builds on the emissions trading scheme arrangements that already exist in a number of US states, including the state of California, which has an emissions trading scheme in place. President Obama made absolutely clear and unequivocal his respect for the climate science and also had this to say:
… I don't have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.
The convener of the flat earth society in Australia sits over there. The opposition leader describes the science as absolute crap. What a disreputable position for a political leader in this country, to deny facts and science. He went around the country with his mendacious campaign: Whyalla wiped off the map; prices going through the roof; we would not be able to afford anything; 'the cost of living'; 'It's going to destroy the economy.' Hundreds of thousands of jobs were going to go. 'The US is doing nothing. China is doing nothing. Why on earth would Australia be doing anything at all?' That is the deception that has gone up and up and up. The emissions are coming down and down and down. We have made a great Labor reform and your position is a moral disgrace. (Time expired)