Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Carbon Pricing, Live Cattle Trade

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray Darling Basin) Share this | Hansard source


I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong) and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Senator Ludwig) to questions without notice asked by Senators Birmingham, Edwards and Back today relating to the carbon tax and to the live export of cattle to Indonesia.

In listening to Senator Wong, the Prime Minister and everybody in the government at present I have to say that I am starting to wonder a few things about the carbon tax package. I am starting to wonder why there is any so-called compensation attached to the carbon tax package at all. I am starting to wonder, when I look at the budget papers and see that they claim that the carbon tax will generate billions of dollars annually in revenue, how that is the case and whether there is in fact a gigantic mistake in the budget papers. When I listen to the Prime Minister, when I listen to Minister Wong and when I listen to ministers or members across this government, I am left with the impression that the carbon tax has no impact at all. I am left with the impression that it is not having any cost impact anywhere on anything. It seems that every time a question is asked all we hear from the government—all we hear from the Prime Minister, from Minister Combet, from Minister Wong or from anyone else—is that the price rises are the fault of the states. These price rises are all the fault of the networks. It is all the fault of anything else except, of course, the government's own carbon tax.

We know that this is just a falsehood. We know that the government is misleading the Australian people through this claim, through this pretence that all cost rises are somehow the result of anything other than the carbon tax. How do we know this? We know it because we have the facts to demonstrate it. We have the facts, and those facts stem originally from the government's own Treasury modelling, modelling that demonstrated the carbon tax would cause a nine per cent rise on electricity prices and that would then be felt with further increases over subsequent years. Has that modelling proven to be true? By and large it has. How do we know that? Because we have the facts of what has happened state-by-state to electricity prices since the carbon tax.

We know that in New South Wales, yes, prices have gone up 18.1 per cent. It is correct to say that is not all attributable to the carbon tax, but 8.9 per cent of that increase is attributable to the carbon tax. So because of Labor's carbon tax, power prices in New South Wales are now 8.9 per cent higher and they of course will keep going up and up and up with the carbon tax. We know that in Queensland the estimate is that of the 13.1 per cent increase in electricity prices, 11 per cent of that is attributable to the carbon tax. So Queenslanders are paying 11 per cent more on their electricity bills as a result of the carbon tax. We know that Western Australians are paying 9.1 per cent more. People here in the ACT, they are paying 14.2 per cent extra on their electricity bills as a result of the latest carbon tax. The state with the smallest increase in electricity prices as a result of the carbon tax is my home state. In South Australia, the carbon tax has only just pushed prices up, apparently, by about 4.6 per cent. Why? Because we already had the highest electricity prices in the country. We already were more dependent on wind and higher cost sources of energy to start with, and that means that we still have the highest prices in the country.

So for all that we hear from those opposite—and from Minister Wong, as we did today in question time, where she tries to pretend carbon tax or electricity price rises are somebody else's fault—the evidence is speaking for itself. The government's modelling has been correct. People are facing a 10 per cent price rise across the board as a result of the carbon tax. Whether it is sporting clubs, as I asked the minister about today, whether it is pubs or clubs generally, whether it is small businesses—none of them get any compensation. The minister could not identify a single club or a small business today that was receiving any compensation as a result of these price rises, but all of them are facing real price rises.


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