Monday, 17 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Finance representing the Minister for the Environment, Senator Cormann. I refer the minister to the carbon tax's negligible impact on the environment but severe impact on Australian industry and jobs. Can the minister inform the Senate as to how the carbon tax impacts on businesses and families in my home state of Western Australia?
I thank Senator Eggleston for that question. He is a passionate advocate for stronger growth and more jobs in our home state of Western Australia. Mr President, the carbon tax hurts families in Western Australia. It hurts business in Western Australia. It is an anti-Western Australian tax. It is a tax which pushes up the cost of electricity, pushes up the cost of gas, pushes up the cost of living for families and pensioners, and pushes up the cost of doing business—and all of that without doing anything to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. All it does is shift emissions from Australia to other parts of the world. People in Australia and, in particular, in Western Australia are being asked to make a sacrifice for something that does not make a difference. It is a shame.
I see that Senator Pratt is not in the chamber today. I wonder what Senator Pratt would be doing right now. I wonder whether Senator Pratt is out in Western Australia campaigning against the carbon tax. We know that, in the lead-up to the last election, Senator Pratt inaccurately and dishonestly told the Western Australian people that Kevin Rudd and Labor had already removed the carbon tax. This is what Senator Pratt told people in Western Australia before the last election: Kevin Rudd and Labor have removed the carbon tax, saving the average family $380. But, of course, the Labor Party in this chamber continues to vote to keep it. Maybe that is why Senator Pratt is in Western Australia—because she does not want to be associated with what Labor is doing in this chamber. Or is she going to tell the truth to the good people of Western Australia in the lead-up to this election—and that is that she is telling people in WA one thing, and doing the exact opposite here in the Senate? The carbon tax must go— (Time expired)
When Labor was elected to government in November 2007, the unemployment rate in Western Australia was 3.3 per cent. After six years of Labor, the carbon tax, the mining tax, additional red and green tape, guess what it is now? It is now 5.9 per cent. Because we have had this anti-Western Australian Labor Party in government for six years, businesses and families in Western Australia were hurt with massive additional taxes and massive additional red tape. The effects are now there for all to see.
On this side of the parliament we stand for stronger growth and more jobs. We stand for helping Western Australia to be more successful. Instead of burdening business and families in Western Australia with all these additional taxes, we want to help Western Australia to be more successful. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. What is the minister's response to recent comments by business leaders about the difficulty of passing on carbon related costs at a time when conditions are getting more difficult for business?
Senator Eggleston is absolutely right. Business finds it very difficult in current economic conditions to pass on the additional cost that has been imposed on them by the Labor Party through the carbon tax that they negotiated with the Greens. If you cannot pass on the costs to consumers, you have to cut jobs. That is why the unemployment rate across Australia is going up. It is going up on the back of a Labor-Greens anti-jobs tax. We might not have Senator Pratt here, because she is campaigning in Western Australia, but we do have Senator Mark Bishop here in the chamber. He is not campaigning in Western Australia. It is a shame that he is not recontesting because, of course, he knows exactly what Labor must do. He made the point: he said that the strong public position of the ALP on the carbon tax was completely rebuffed by the electorate. He further said that the debate is lost for the next decade at least and that it is not possible to persuade the Australian people that their views were incorrect. (Time expired)