Senate debates

Monday, 25 June 2012


Clean Energy Finance Corporation Bill 2012; Second Reading

5:30 pm

Photo of Concetta Fierravanti-WellsConcetta Fierravanti-Wells (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Ageing) Share this | Hansard source

Before question time, I was speaking about this complete waste of money, this $10 billion that is going to be pumped into what is little more than a giant slush fund to appease the Green partners of this government. It is interesting to note the fact that the government gives and gives to the Greens. But where are the Greens on the government's so-called Malaysian solution? Why don't the government put that to the vote and see if their alliance partners pay back some of the largesse that they are giving them in so many other areas?

In the time available to me I would like to look at a number of issues pertaining to the carbon tax. This is a $9 billion a year tax and every Australian will pay in some way or other, most especially through their electricity and gas bills. In the first four years it will total $36 billion. It has absolutely nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with revenue raising. Despite the imposition of the carbon tax, Australia's emissions will increase from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes by 2020. This is because gas and electricity are essential services for all Australians. Instead of reducing Australia's emissions, in the end firms will have to purchase 94 million tonnes of carbon permits from overseas by the year 2020.

The imposition of the carbon tax could not come at a worse possible time for manufacturers, who are struggling against a high Australian dollar. Further, their overseas competitors will not pay a carbon tax. There are six days to go until the start of the Gillard government carbon tax. Remember how in the lead-up to the last federal election—just six days before it—the Prime Minister said, 'There shall be no carbon tax under a government that I lead'? What a lie that was. Now, just six days before the carbon tax comes in, Labor is expected to announce a $40 million carbon tax bailout for Alcoa's Point Henry smelter near Geelong. The list of manufacturers in need of a carbon tax bailout goes on and on.

My own area, the Illawarra, the carbon tax capital of Australia, will be hit by a double whammy. The Illawarra, with its steel industry and coalmines, will face a double imposition. We have already started to see the exodus of jobs from the Illawarra. The result at the state election, with massive 18 per cent swings against them in the Illawarra, is something that Labor need to think about. As I stood at those polling booths, those people who were voting against the Labor Party were telling me and others one thing and one thing only: that they were absolutely disgusted with Labor for having the temerity to lie to them. They showed their anger by voting against Labor in the state election and again in the local government elections. It is little wonder that the people of the Illawarra are being paid back. Ratepayers there will pay much more because of what councils like Shellharbour Council and Wollongong Council will be forced to impose as a direct consequence of this government's carbon tax. Little wonder that the next election will be a referendum on the carbon tax.

If elected, a coalition government will have a contract with the community and a mandate to honour. Those opposite will need to take very strong heed of the vote. Many people will take that opportunity to vote against this government. People are waiting now. They want an election. As I and my colleagues go out and about and speak to people, we are finding that they want an election because they want to tell those opposite what they think about them and their stinking, toxic carbon tax. They have been lied to. They do not like it. They want the opportunity to express their point of view.

Let us have a look at what is happening around the world. No country currently imposes an economy-wide tax on greenhouse emissions or has in place an economy-wide ETS. This is an economic own goal of the worst kind. Countries like the United States, Canada, India, China and Japan have all made it clear that they are not moving towards a broad based carbon tax like Australia. It will be the most expensive carbon tax in the world. It starts at $23 a tonne, but it will be going up and up. We know the Treasury estimates: it will reach $29 per tonne in 2016, $37 per tonne in 2020 and over $350 per tonne in 2050. We know this is payback to the Greens, because we have had Bob Brown and Christine Milne say that it needs to be at least $40 a tonne to shift electricity generation from coal. They want to stamp out the coal industry. And of course Senator Hanson-Young over there has canvassed a price of $100 per tonne, so it is little wonder.

Recently we had the Prime Minister going over to Rio. There she was, dateless and desperate in Rio, with nobody agreeing with her in relation to support for a carbon tax. One could say, judging by some of the photos of her that were taken, that she was very friendless as well.


No comments