Thursday, 15 September 2011
Carbon Tax Plebiscite Bill 2011 [No. 2]; Second Reading
I speak in opposition to the Carbon Tax Plebiscite Bill and I do so because the bill is nothing more than a political stunt, a waste of taxpayers' dollars and a refusal by the opposition to accept the results of two elections and the willingness of the people for the government to take action on climate change. It is a significant waste of the parliament's and the Senate's time at a period when the government is undertaking significant reform—significant economic reform, significant social reform and reform that will modernise our economy, transform our society and protect our environment. This bill seeks to have a plebiscite regarding the government's plan to price carbon. But despite that wish to have a plebiscite the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has said to all Australians that he will not accept the outcome of that plebiscite if it does not go the way that he wants. This is nothing more than an irresponsible, cheap political stunt that does not deserve the time and extensive consideration of the Senate.
We have been elected to this place to represent the people of our states, to debate issues, to represent interests and to work together to resolve issues and to map out a future for our nation. With each of our individual mandates to sit in this great chamber comes a responsibility to show leadership and a responsibility to act in the interests of the people of Australia. Yet through this bill those opposite seek to abrogate that responsibility. They abrogate that responsibility that each and every one of us has as senators. Under our democracy the people elect parliamentarians to represent their communities, to debate issues and to make laws. This is a point that was well made by the former Prime Minister John Howard when he told ABC radio in Perth on 17 September 1998:
Unless you resort to a method of having plebiscites or referendums on each individual issue. And I think the Australian public would get very angry and tired about that. They would say: what’s wrong with you fellas, we elected you for three years, you go away and take all the decisions you want to on individual issues and then when those decisions have been taken at the end of your three year period if we don’t like you we’ll vote you out. I don’t think you can run it any other way.
Well said by the former Prime Minister. This bill is nothing more than a waste of taxpayers' money. It is estimated by the Australian Electoral Commission that the cost of running such a plebiscite will be in the vicinity of $80 million—$80 million for a plebiscite which the Leader of the Opposition says he will not accept if the decision does not go in his favour; $80 million despite the fact that in two elections the people of Australia voted for action on climate change; $80 million despite the fact that no less than 37 inquiries regarding action on climate change have recommended that this parliament take action to price carbon and that the most effective measure for taking action on climate change is through a market based mechanism; $80 million despite the fact that the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee recommended the measures that are currently being debated in the House of Representatives. The opposition were invited to participate in this multiparty committee to debate the issues associated with climate change and to work with the government and the Independents in a responsible manner to map out a plan to deal with this important economic and social issue.
It will be an $80 million waste of taxpayers' money—an abrogation of our responsibility as senators. It shows a complete lack of leadership from the opposition, because of their denial of the advice of experts on this important economic and social challenge. They refuse to accept the result of the 2010 election and refuse to accept that the majority of representatives in this parliament want action on climate change. It will be an $80 million waste of taxpayers' money—$80 million of fiscal recklessness. On top of this, the opposition refuse to come clean with the Australian people about how they will cost their policy for action on climate change.
The government and the opposition agree that there needs to be action on climate change. In fact, we have the same target for emissions reductions—five per cent by 2020 on 2000 levels. Yet the opposition have a different policy, a direct action policy—a policy of subsidising companies who pollute our atmosphere, a policy that the Liberal Party website says will cost $11 billion over the next four years but which the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has costed at closer to $30 billion to 2020. Yet the party that claims the moral ground on fiscal responsibility are acting with complete contempt for the Australian people by refusing to say how they will fund their policies—how they will fund this $30 billion subsidy to polluters.
They claim that they will produce a surplus in government. How will they do that? How will they do that without the revenue from the minerals resource rent tax? How will they do that without the revenue from pricing carbon? They will do it one way: through cutting services. They will cut services to deliver on their commitments. It has been leaked from the opposition party room that those cuts to services will be in the vicinity of $70 billion—$70 billion of political karate chops to many schemes, policies and services that the Australian people rely on.
It is time for the opposition to come clean with the Australian public. It is time for those senators opposite to tell the Australian people how they are going to fund this $70 billion of cuts. What is on the line? Is it Medicare? Is it the childcare rebate? Is it the increase in pensions? Indeed, is it a reduction in the company tax rate? It is time for those opposite to come clean with the Australian people and tell them how they are going to fund $70 billion of cuts and how they are going to fund their direct action policy—the $30 billion to 2020 that the department of climate change estimates it will cost.
Labor's plan will ensure that we act responsibly on this issue of climate change. It is agreed by all the parties that human activity is causing damage to our environment, that increasing pollution is warming our planet and that this will lead to changes in weather patterns—severe weather consequences, increases in sea levels, possible extreme drought periods and other extreme weather events. We need to take action to reduce and mitigate the effects of global emissions on our environment. All the experts say that the longer we wait to take action the greater the cost. As a parent of two young children, I do not want to saddle them with the burden of unbearable costs to deal with this important economic and social issue. That is why all the parties agreed to a five per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. It is a commitment that our nation has signed up to in international forums.
Why are we going down this path of pricing carbon rather than the opposition's plan of direct action? As all good governments do, we engaged the advice of experts. We said to the best economists and the best scientists in our nation, 'How can we achieve a reduction in emissions in the least-cost manner, in the most efficient manner for our economy and in the most efficient manner for households, for workers and for businesses?' Overwhelmingly, all of those economists and all of those scientists say that the most efficient and most effective method of reducing emissions and ensuring that our economy transforms itself and transitions to a clean energy future is through a market based mechanism. Putting a cost on carbon emissions will ensure that consumers, businesses, households and communities can make their own decisions in a market based economy about how they reduce their emissions and how they respond to pricing that externality of carbon. It is a plan that, over time, will lead to a change in behaviour.
The scheme will work by ensuring that we tax the 500 biggest polluters—initially, during the early days of the scheme, they will be asked to pay $23 per tonne of carbon pollution. We will then move towards a market based mechanism which will kick in in 2015. This will send a clear signal to polluters that they can no longer get away with pumping carbon emissions into our atmosphere for free. And then companies will do what companies do: they will find a way to reduce this cost. They will find a way to invest in cleaner technology. They will find a way to invest in new industries based on renewable energy. This will lead to a boost in jobs, in investment and in new renewable energy sources. Most importantly, it will also improve our environment, because over time it will reduce the level of emissions that would have otherwise occurred had we not taken action.
There will be costs associated with this scheme. Nobody is denying that. But the Australian Treasury modelling indicates that the increase in costs will be 0.7 per cent on the consumer price index—a 0.7 per cent effect on inflation. I think this needs to put in context. When the GST was introduced back in 1998, the effect on the consumer price index was modelled by the Treasury at 2.49 per cent. Treasury said that the increase in costs associated with the GST would be 2.49 per cent. What was the outcome? It was 2.5 per cent; that was the eventual increase in costs associated with the GST. So Treasury have a history of getting it right when it comes to this modelling, and their estimates are that the cost effect of pricing carbon in our economy will be 0.7 per cent on the consumer price index.
How will this affect households and how will households meet this extra cost? Half of the revenue that will be raised from pricing carbon will go directly to households. It will go to assisting low- to middle-income households to make the transition to the new carbon-constrained economy. The other half will go to assisting businesses and to ensuring that our nation is promoting and investing in renewable energy sources. Six million households will benefit from the assistance package. As for pensioners, sole pensioners will get an increase of $338 a year and couple pensioners will get an extra $510 a year. Students will get an extra $177 a year. Job seekers will get an extra $218 a year. Furthermore, there are tax cuts associated with the plan that are targeted to provide an average tax cut of $300 per year for those on an annual income of less than $80,000. The tax-free threshold will be increased from $6,000 to $18,000. And this assistance will be permanent, and it will increase as the carbon price rises during the move to a market based mechanism. There is $9.2 billion worth of assistance for trade-exposed industries, those that are trading in the global marketplace—most notably, steel and aluminium, and the coal industry, for which there is a $1.3 billion assistance package. Assistance to community organisations will be provided through funding from the scheme to ensure that they can put in place and invest in technology that will reduce their carbon footprint and reduce, above all, their electricity costs.
Some have said that we are taking action ahead of the rest of the world. Some have said that Australia will be leading the pack when it comes to pricing carbon. But, when we look at what is happening throughout the world, we can see that this is a complete lie and misstatement by those opposite. The Productivity Commission studied what was occurring in key economies, and nine of our trading partners were taking action on climate change. In the words of the Productivity Commission's report:
… the estimates for Australia … appear to lie in the middle of the range of countries.
Thirty-five nations or states throughout the world have an emissions trading scheme. They include the nations of the European Union; a major trading partner of ours, New Zealand; and parts of Canada. In China at the moment, in three of their major provinces—Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong—they are trialling an emissions trading scheme, and the Chinese government has a five-year plan for moving to an economy-wide trading scheme. It is a complete fallacy that Australia is acting irresponsibly, ahead of the rest of the world and in a manner that will harm our competitive advantage and many of our businesses.
Many of the Liberals have, in the past, supported what the Gillard government is doing in attempting to price carbon and transform our economy as we move into a clean energy future. I draw the Senate's attention to the first speech of none other than Senator Cormann, one of the opposition's chief combatants when it comes to the issue of pricing carbon. In his first speech to this place on 15 August 2007, Senator Cormann said:
The government's recent announcement of a national emissions trading scheme, including offsets for trade exposed industries, is a positive and sensible approach to addressing global warming.
I could not have said it better myself. I find it hard, but I actually agree with what Senator Cormann said. It was a very eloquent statement of what the government is trying to do.
So from those opposite there was support in the past for what the government is trying to do. The change is that the Leader of the Opposition sees it now as an opportunity to win government, a cynical exercise in vote buying. That is despite the fact that all of the experts say that the Labor approach is the least-cost approach for our economy and the best option for our nation. No credible economist will back their plan. And their opposition is despite the fact that we have had 37 inquiries, all of them recommending that we take action on climate change and that the form of action should be to price carbon through a market based mechanism. This is a waste of time, a waste of taxpayers' dollars, and I urge the Senate not to support this bill.
I rise to speak on the Carbon Tax Plebiscite Bill 2011 [No. 2]. I listened quite carefully to Senator Thistlethwaite's speech and I noted that he referred to the $80 million in fiscal wastefulness that would be brought upon the taxpayer in the event that the Carbon Tax Plebiscite Bill were actually passed. Senator Thistlethwaite, if you want to talk about waste be very, very careful—or at least go and look in the mirror—because when it comes to waste the current Labor Party exceeds even the Whitlam government. If you want to talk about waste, let's talk about the billions of dollars that this government wasted on the pink batts scheme. Let's talk about the billions of dollars that the Labor government wasted on mismanaging the school hall program. Let's talk about the billions of dollars that the Rudd-Gillard Labor government has wasted because of its failed border protection policies.
But let us not stop there. When the Rudd-Gillard government came to office, what was the debt ceiling? What was the amount that they were able to spend? Was it $75 billion? Yes, it was. Did they reach that amount? Yes, they did. So what did the Labor government do? They had to go to the parliament and say: 'We've spent all the money in the bank. We want to spend some more because that's what we are very, very good at doing.' They had to ask the parliament to raise the debt ceiling. And what did the parliament do? It raised the debt ceiling to no less than $200 billion of taxpayers' money.
By any standard that was a huge amount of money, but guess what? Guess what they did, in typical Labor Party form? They spent the additional money and they had to come back to the parliament yet again. But no shame! There was no shame associated with this request because 'Hey! What we're good at is spending taxpayers' money'. They came back again to the parliament and what did they do? Lo and behold, they had to tell the parliament, in typical socialist style—chardonnay socialist style of course; nothing but the best for the representatives of the workers—that $200 billion of taxpayers' money was not enough. They had to ask the parliament yet again to raise the debt ceiling, to raise the amount of money that the Labor government could spend on behalf of taxpayers. What is the current credit card limit? Two hundred and fifty billion dollars. It started at $75 billion but that was not enough. It went to $200 billion but that was not enough. It is now at $250 billion and—guess what?—that is still not enough. So when Senator Thistlethwaite comes into this chamber and talks about waste I suggest he has a look at his own party's performance first.
This week was a very important week for the Australian public. This was the week in which the Prime Minister officially broke her promise to the Australian people. This was the week when the Australian public were able to reflect upon the fact that each and every Labor member and senator who was elected at the 2010 federal election was elected on the basis of a lie. And that lie is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated upon the people of Australia. We all know what that lie is. That lie is the statement made by the now Prime Minister of Australia the day before the election that 'there will be no carbon tax under the government that I lead'.
This lie was made despite another statement by the Prime Minister, on 7 September 2010, after the election, in which she said to the people of Australia: 'Let the sun shine in. My government will open the doors and it will let the sun shine in.' The article in the Sydney Morning Herald said:
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, says her minority government will be held to higher standards of accountability as a result of the deal struck with the independents. … 'We will be held to higher standards of transparency and reform and it's in that spirit I approach the task of forming government.'
But did the Prime Minister stop there? No. She wanted to confirm yet again with the Australian people that her government, Ms Gillard's government, would be held to higher levels of transparency. Again, on 7 September 2010, the Prime Minister said:
Let's draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in. Let our parliament be more open than it ever was before.
It did not take the Labor Prime Minister of Australia very long to break not only her pre-election commitment to the Australian people but also her post-election commitment to the Australian people. Despite the promise that the government made the day before the election that it would not impose a carbon tax, the Australian people now have that government. The Australian people are now lumped with a government that believes the only way to tackle what it says is catastrophic climate change is by imposing a carbon tax across the economy. The Australian government, in refusing to support this bill currently before the Senate, is also saying to the people of Australia: 'We made a promise the day before the election; many voters who voted for the Labor Party relied upon the promise that the Prime Minister made but those same voters are now apparently fully supportive of the government's position.'
I say to the government: if you are so sure that the people of Australia support your backflip, despite the fact that you have no mandate whatsoever to introduce a carbon tax to Australia, then let the people of Australia have their say. It is very simple. If you are so sure—and you keep standing up in this place and telling us on this side that that is what the Australian people want, despite the promise that you made to them the day before the election—then put your money where your mouth is. Support the coalition's bill and take this question to the people of Australia. Ask the people of Australia, by way of a plebiscite, whether or not they support the position put into the parliament of Australia by the government this week to put a price on carbon to tackle climate change. Take it to the people and give them their say.
We all know that that is exactly what the government will not do. It will not, despite the fact that it continues to tell us on this side and the people of Australia that it knows it has their support, despite what it said the day before the election that there would be no carbon tax under a Labor government, despite the fact that when it went to the polls it relied on that statement. Now it says, 'We know that you support the fact that we are going to put a price on carbon'. If you are so sure, take it to an election. But we all know why you won't. Because each and every one of those on the other side—the 150 who went to the election supporting no carbon tax—knows that if the Australian people were given their chance to vote by way of a plebiscite on whether or not they support a carbon tax, they would vote 'no'. They would confirm what every backbencher in a marginal seat in Labor electorates knows. They would confirm that this government has no mandate whatsoever to implement the legislation that it brought into the parliament this week.
Why would they confirm that? I state it again for the record, just in case those on the other side have forgotten what the Prime Minister said the day before the election. It is very simple. When asked the question: 'Will you impose a carbon tax if you are elected by the Australian people?' the Prime Minister of Australia said: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' Those clear, concise and unambiguous words will haunt this Prime Minister for the rest of her life. They will haunt her until she goes to her political grave, which, let us face it—if you walk around the corridors of Parliament House at the moment—is being dug. It is well and truly being dug and she could be in it a lot sooner than later.
You have to remember the reason Ms Gillard assumed the position of Prime Minister. That is right, it was because the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, had lost his way on none other than the emissions trading scheme. That policy was such a mess and such a disgrace that the Australian Labor Party threw democracy as Australians know it out the window and politically executed the former Prime Minister of Australia. Why? Because he had got it wrong when it came to tackling climate change. Those on the other side must all shake their heads and think, 'How did we get into the mess that we are in now?'
When Australians are given a guarantee by a political leader in the run-up to an election about something so important as not introducing a carbon tax they put their trust and their faith in that political leader to abide by that guarantee. They cast their vote in confidence, relying upon that expectation. If for some reason the Prime Minister decides that she wants to reverse her earlier mandated position of not introducing a carbon tax, it is very clear that, because the voters in Australia cast their vote relying on the Prime Minister's earlier political guarantee, she should have the guts to take this change in policy to an election. After all, that is what the Howard government did when it introduced the GST. That was a fundamental change to the Australian economy, and the Howard government had the guts to take it to the people of Australia and ask them: 'Should this government introduce a GST?' And what did the people say? They returned the Howard government and they gave it the mandate to introduce the GST—and that is exactly the situation that we are now in with the carbon tax legislation. The Australian people should be given the opportunity to tell the current Labor government whether or not they want them to introduce a carbon tax. But they will not. And we all know why they won't—because Australia is now in the situation where it has a Prime Minister who is so unsure of herself, who is so unsure of her support within her own caucus, who is so unsure of how long she will actually remain in the position of Prime Minister and is so unsure of what she is about to impose upon the people of Australia that she refuses to take this policy to an election, to a plebiscite, and allow the people of Australia to cast a vote and tell the government what they actually did.
They are acting on a blatant lie that they told to the people of Australia. But we all know why they do not want to give the people of Australia a say on this legislation. Why not? Because there is escalating opposition in what used to be safe Labor seats—not marginal Labor seats; safe Labor seats. Come to my home state of Western Australia, to what used to be safe Labor seats—come to Gary Gray's seat of Brand. These are safe Labor seats that the government knows, if they went to an election tomorrow, would fall to the coalition—because people in those seats are going to be detrimentally affected by this legislation and they want the opportunity to tell the government that.
A Deloitte Access Economics report, commissioned by Labor Premier Anna Bligh, predicts that Queensland's gross state product will be slashed by 2.76 per cent by 2020 and by 4.11 per cent come 2050 if the federal government introduces its carbon tax. Deloitte goes on to predict a loss of 21,000 jobs in Queensland, while separate Labor Queensland Treasury modelling predicts 12,000 jobs will be gone. Say goodbye to marginal Labor seats in Queensland. The Victorian government has also commissioned a Deloitte report, which found that there would be at least 23,000 fewer jobs created across Victoria by 2015 as a result of the carbon tax, with La Trobe Valley, Geelong, Port Phillip, Monash and Whitehorse the worst hit areas. Say goodbye to marginal Labor seas in Victoria. New South Wales Treasury modelling predicts 31,000 jobs will be lost New South Wales by 2030 under the Gillard Labor government's carbon tax, with 18,500 jobs gone in the Hunter Valley alone. If I were a marginal seat holder in New South Wales under this Labor government, I would be very scared. On top of that is electricity prices. Electricity prices, if and when this government introduces its carbon tax, will leap $498. That is right: electricity prices in Australia will rise by $498 when the government introduces this tax.
In Western Australia, the Western Australian Treasury has done modelling which shows that over half of WA households—over half of WA households—will be worse off under the carbon tax. And it goes further. It clearly shows that the Gillard Labor government's supposed compensation will not fully compensate households for the increases in the cost of living. If I were a Labor member in Western Australia, in a marginal seat—Gary Gray, where are you?—I would be very worried about the vote that I am about to cast when this comes before the parliament. Labor membership is in steel electorates, coalmining electorates, motor and other manufacturing electorates. They know that jobs are going to disappear—and we know that they are telling the Labor leadership team this. We know what they are saying in caucus; they are going directly to the Labor leadership and saying, 'Do you know I am in a marginal Labor seat? Do you know that, in my marginal Labor seat, because of Labor government policy, I am going to have people who are going to lose their jobs? And do you know what that means to me? It means that I will lose my seat at the next election.'
But they are weak, the Labor members of parliament, and they will not stand up to the Gillard Labor government and tell them what they need to hear: that this is bad legislation, it is all economic pain for no environmental gain. But, worse than that, average Australians , the average mum and dad, who just work hard to pay their bills, to put their kids through school, to put food on the table, are the ones who are going to be most badly affected by this tax. They are the ones that are going to have a draw a line in their budget. They are the ones who are going to have to say to their kids, 'No, you can't afford that. We could afford it last year but this year we can't afford it because the Labor government has introduced a tax that has had a negative impact on it. If the Prime Minister was honourable, if the Prime Minister cared about democracy, she would allow the Labor Party to support this bill and take the carbon tax to an election. (Time expired)
I rise today to oppose the proposed plebiscite, although, Mr Deputy President, you would be hard pressed to know from the last contribution that we are actually debating a bill to impose a plebiscite. The interesting thing is that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, destroyed any credibility the plebiscite might have had within minutes of announcing it by saying that he would impose the cost of a plebiscite on the Australian people, ask them the question and then, if their reply was not what he wanted—that is, opposition to imposing a carbon price regime in Australia—he would take no notice of it. So we are debating here a proposal to use taxpayers' money to go out and force the community to take a vote and then say, 'If it doesn't suit me because I do not like the answer, well, in that case I'm not going to take any notice of it.' So this plebiscite was dead in the water within minutes and if I were the coalition I would never have brought this bill on for debate because it is terribly embarrassing. It just highlights again how, unless he actually writes it all down, things come out of the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, that you simply cannot believe and how, within hours of him saying something, it gets completely discredited. This is yet another opportunity for Australians to see what a load of nonsense is going on here: a debate for a plebiscite where there is no undertaking to take any notice at all of the result.
But, having said that, I look forward to the sitting in August next year when we come back after the winter session and power bills have not gone up by $498, as Senator Cash has just outlined—I look forward to the apology that she will be called on to make to the Senate for spreading such a ridiculous claim and for failing to note that electricity prices have gone up, as they have right now, because the level of uncertainty is such that nobody is investing in electricity. That is leading to the mess that we have in the national electricity system across the country. There has, over a long period of time, been a failure to invest in upgrading infrastructure as required, because people do not know the direction the country is going to take in terms of electricity generation.
I also note that if I were the coalition I would be really embarrassed about getting this on today because of the statement by the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network. Let me read out who they are: the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Coal Association, BlueScope Steel, Woodside, Rio Tinto, Exxon Mobil and BP Australia. As I expected would occur, they have all come out today saying that Mr Abbott's plan of achieving a five per cent emission reduction domestically would at least double the cost, whether done through his carbon price or through his proposed direct action. So now you have, as I also expected would happen, this situation. When the climate legislation passes this parliament, business will understand the inevitability that this is going to happen. They know that this will not be repealed. As I said in the Senate yesterday, the great big new lie out there—and the coalition is digging a bigger and bigger hole for itself on this—is that the coalition, if it wins government under Mr Abbott, will repeal the bills. Of course they will not. That is the great big new lie. There is no way that an Abbott government would repeal all of the climate bills. The rot has already set in—we heard Mr Hunt say, in the lower house, that the coalition would not repeal the Carbon Farming Initiative. Having opposed it for hours and hours, saying that it was the worst possible thing and that it was going to destroy rural and regional Australia, they then said, on the third reading, 'We're not going to repeal it'. They are not going to repeal these bills and business is rapidly coming online and on-stream in relation to this.
Let me go to the question of these claims today about overseas permits and pricing. One of the reasons the Greens opposed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was that it allowed for 100 per cent buying of permits overseas. At that time the coalition had no problem with that and they were going to vote for it. The coalition were going to support the CPRS, which was about 100 per cent purchase of permits overseas. Then the leadership changed and they abandoned that position. What we have in this scheme is a 50 per cent rule, so 50 per cent of the abatement has to be purchased in Australia and the other 50 per cent can be purchased on the international carbon market providing it meets certain standards, and they are the highest possible standards.
Through that initiative we are now seeing that we are making sure we are integrated with the international carbon market. As I indicated, California goes to emissions trading on 1 January next year, and you can take China, the eighth largest economy in the world. You have the European Union, you have New Zealand, you have Australia and you have four provinces in China moving towards it. We are starting to build a global carbon market and that will allow an integration of that market.
We heard Senator Boswell talking yesterday about people in poverty. The people who will benefit from an international trade in permits are the people in developing countries which can develop offsets that meet international standards—and that is going to be a big problem because they have got to reach a level of integrity and rigour that would allow Australia to even consider it and that is clearly in the conditions as they pertain to this. So if you are serious about addressing global emissions, you would get on board with a market mechanism which can be increased over time and which leads to business opportunities and interaction with a number of countries around the world.
I want to put on the record, in the last 40 seconds that I have for this contribution, that, firstly, Mr Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, says he will take no notice of a plebiscite. It had no merit from the day that it was announced, the day that it was blown up by their own side—so a big shot in the foot on that one. Secondly, what we are hearing from the coalition is the big new lie that they will repeal all of the bills. That will not happen and it is time that Mr Abbott went and told the people who came here in the convoy, Alan Jones and everybody else, that he has no intention of repealing all of those bills. Otherwise he is in the category of using the great big new lie. Thirdly, Senator Cash, I just want to tell you that come August next year I will be calling for an apology from you as $498 will not occur.