Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Clean Energy Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Fuel Tax Legislation Amendment) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Customs Tariff Amendment) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Excise Tariff Legislation Amendment) Bill 2011, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment Bill 2011, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Unit Shortfall Charge — General) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge — Auctions) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Unit Issue Charge — Fixed Charge) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (International Unit Surrender Charge) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Charges — Customs) Bill 2011, Clean Energy (Charges — Excise) Bill 2011, Clean Energy Regulator Bill 2011, Climate Change Authority Bill 2011; First Reading

5:18 pm

Photo of Fiona NashFiona Nash (NSW, National Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education) Share this | Hansard source

Australians don't. Thank you, Senator Cormann, I will take that—Australians don't. You only have to look at the government's track record to know that you cannot trust them. There are a couple of things they do not go near. One is regional Australia, which Senator Cormann quite rightly referred to, and I will get there shortly. The other thing they never refer to is longevity of compensation. The interesting thing is that they are trying to go out and put oil across the water, saying to people: 'Don't worry. There will be compensation. Nine out of 10 families will be compensated. It will all be okay.' The Australian people do not trust that they can deliver anything given the track record on things like pink batts and BER halls and everything else that the government have touched that has gone to absolute mud. They simply do not trust that that can even be delivered.

As I said earlier, the Australian people simply do not want an emissions trading scheme. They said that many, many months ago now. But we are moving to an emissions trading scheme. This is something that is very rarely discussed in the context of the current debate. In 2015 we will get to the point where the carbon tax becomes an emissions trading scheme—the very thing that the Australian people went into revolt about not so long ago when the government first had it flagged, the very thing. We are going to get to an emissions trading scheme. What happens when we get to an emissions trading scheme? We have a fluctuating price.

I do not know if any of my good colleagues here or any others have actually heard from the government about how they plan to compensate when the price is fluctuating. I do not know. Are they planning to compensate that far? Maybe they could actually give us a bit more detail. Perhaps the minister could jump in this debate. Maybe we will have to wait for the substantive debate on this particular issue. What is going to happen? Is the compensation going to go that far? How do you actually compensate on a daily basis when there is a fluctuating price? Has anybody thought about that? Has anybody thought to ask the government how they plan to do that? If that compensation that they are so solidly and certainly talking about is going to go very far anyway, how on earth is it going to work under an emissions trading scheme? They do not know what the price is. Can you just imagine, at the very least—Senator Cormann, I am sure you have thought of this—the bureaucratic nightmare of having to deliver compensation under a fluctuating price, let alone a regulated price under a carbon tax? It is quite extraordinary.

Just on the bureaucratic cost, one wonders what the government is going to say. Again I am sure this will come up during the substantive debate and I am sure we are going to have a lengthy committee stage to allow these sorts of issues to be aired—unless the government is going to continue to guillotine us, which I think would be quite appalling and inappropriate when the Australian people at least deserve some scrutiny of this. One wonders exactly what they are going to say when we get to that point. How is it go going to work, I wonder. There are so many unanswered questions that I am sure the government cannot even answer. They simply do not have a clue.

The government have been pushed by the Greens to bring in this carbon tax. As colleagues have discussed earlier today, that is what has happened. The government have done a backflip because they have got this cobbled-together Greens-Independent-Labor government, which is no way to run a democracy, and I am guessing they had no choice. Isn't it interesting, for those who are listening, to be very well aware that the Greens have 10 members and senators. There are 226 members and senators in this parliament, yet the Greens are telling the government what to do. You tell me how democratic that is, colleagues. You tell me what sort of democracy that is when we have got 10 members out of a 226-member parliament telling the government what to do. And good luck to them; that is the way it fell out The Prime Minister was so desperate to govern under any circumstances, to stay Prime Minister—I do not know how long that is going to last—that she was prepared to cobble together this government. That is simply not democracy. It is an undemocratic government because we have not got the majority of people having their say.

If we had at this point the majority of people in this country having their say, there would be no carbon tax. That leads to the question: why won't the government wait until after the next election to bring in the carbon tax? We could go through all this now; we could go through all the motions. It can go through the chamber. But why not have the start date of the carbon tax after the next election, whenever that might be—sooner, later, who knows? Why won't the government do that? To me that simply seems fair. The Prime Minister would then be saying to the Australian people: 'Look, I didn't really mean to lie to you before the last election. I am really sorry I told you there was not going to be a carbon tax. But I really believe in this carbon tax and I believe in it so much and I believe you will too, so I will go to another election and give you an opportunity to have your say.' Wouldn't you do that? I think anybody with any confidence that what they were putting forward was something that the majority of the Australian people would want would do that. They would do that without any shadow of a doubt.

We can deduce that the only reason this Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will not have the start date for the carbon tax after the next election is she knows the majority of the Australian people do not want it and that they will vote the Labor government out. Otherwise, why wouldn't she do it? It makes perfect sense. Give the Australian people a say. One of the things I love about this country is that we are a democracy, that you do have the opportunity to have your voice heard, that you do have the opportunity to have your say. But apparently not—apparently not under this Prime Minister, because she can tell you one thing, do entirely the other and then still not give you the opportunity to have your say. That I think is what makes this one of the saddest days in this nation's history. To watch that legislation go through the House of Representatives, to watch that happen today, knowing it is a piece of legislation that will hurt the Australian people and that will do absolutely nothing when it comes to the intent of the government is sad, stupid and, quite frankly, appalling. I think it just goes to show the level that this government has gone to to stay in power. It is really quite extraordinary. Colleagues, the impact on regional Australia is going to be huge. This will have to wait for another day, because time precludes me now from going through all those impacts. But, as my colleagues from regional areas right around this chamber and the other place know, regional Australia is going to be hit harder than anywhere else. Farmers are the bottom of the food chain. There is nowhere for these costs to be passed on to. The costs of fuel, transport, fertiliser and electricity are all going to land in the lap of the farmers. It is all going to land on those regional agricultural businesses. There is no escape for them. They cannot get away from the impact this carbon tax is going to have on them, and that is wrong.

That is what we on this side of the chamber will keep fighting against. I can only promise the Australian people that we will not stop. This carbon tax may have gone through the House of Representatives and it may well get through the Senate, but we will not stop. We absolutely promise the Australian people that, in government, the coalition will get rid of this carbon tax and make sure Australia has a better future.


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