MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE Carbon Pricing

Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (16:11): I issue a simple challenge to the member for Paterson. If you want to put a privileges claim in against the member for Charlton, I will be following up with my own, because you just misled the House, claiming 345 jobs will be gone for a price that has not even come in. So when you are ready, we will be ready to meet that challenge.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! Member for Chifley, resume your seat. I said it in the Federation Chamber this morning: the use of the word 'you' is a reflection on the occupier of this chair. It is coming from both sides of this chamber and the Federation Chamber. In your comments just then you were saying 'you, you, you'. That is a reflection on me and other occupiers of the chair. I said this morning that I would not pull people up, but I will in future whilst ever they use that word 'you'.

Mr HUSIC: I am grateful for the guidance and I will ensure it does not happen again. This place should be a forum for struggle. It should be a struggle for ideas. It is one of the biggest issues facing the country and it should have two sides being able to put up competing approaches to deal with this issue of climate change and how we respond. We have put a price on pollution. We recognise that with this issue you cannot keep putting it off, that in actual fact we need to embark on a major economic and environmental reform. We have put forward a comprehensive plan. Those opposite believe the best way to deal with it is to plant a stack of trees. Relying on the science and relying upon market-driven responses, we have put forward a solution. Those opposite cannot find one scientist or economist to back what they are saying.

On the way through, we have admitted, acknowledged and been quite upfront that there will be price impacts, but we have also provided a comprehensive and far-reaching assistance package. Their response is to take it away: pension increases—gone; family tax benefit increases—gone; tax threshold increases—gone. I did say that this place is a place for struggle but for those opposite I never thought it was a struggle for comprehension, to be able to understand what needs to be done. They are hard-pressed to understand that when you highlight a problem you should be able to find a solution or, if you are unable to do it, at least back a solution. They go around wringing their hands 24/7 about cost-of-living increases and pressures but then vote against the schoolkids bonus. When you are worried about jobs in the steel industry, you do not vote against a steel transformation plan. When you visit factories, slipping on your own crocodile tears about jobs, you do not go and cut $500 million of industry assistance or, worse still, sneer at efforts to protect 46,000 auto jobs in this country. We have had a number of them say, 'Why should we be defending an industry that's gone?'

There they are, writing off that industry, claiming it is not worth saving. That is what they are saying. That is their economic philosophy. How do you say you are worried about costs of living and not support people's means to meet those costs of living by holding on to their own jobs? And now we have an MPI claiming that the coalition has concern about both costs of living and jobs. You do not talk about tax relief for business and then say you are against a company tax rate cut. You do not do it.

Dr Mike Kelly: Absolute hypocrisy!

Mr HUSIC: It is absolute hypocrisy, as pointed out by the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. You do not say you want to see lower personal tax and then promise one million people that you will reduce the tax-free threshold. They talk about costs of living but fight against every single effort that we have put forward to help families and to secure jobs.

It is worth noting that nearly a million people taken out the taxation system are 60 per cent women. Hundreds of thousands of those people taken out will be students and young people. In denying those people a tax break the coalition seeks to give a tax break to the richest woman in the world; someone who, every single second of the day, earns as much as a worker on minimum wage earns in one single week. If you were a young person and you scored a job to help pay your way through TAFE or uni, what would you think of a political party that came along and said: 'We think you should pay more tax. We think Gina Rinehart should pay less, but we think you should pay more, and that is why we are reducing the tax-free threshold.' Talk about making life harder for young people! There they are, studying, trying to get ahead and to make their way in the world, and those opposite come along saying that they want to increase tax.

In my electorate 58,000 people will see a tax cut. In my electorate 19,000 will see an increase in family tax benefit payments and 24,000 pensioners will see a lift in their pension. Mind you, if you are concerned about cost-of-living increases—and I raise this with the member for Flinders because he talked a lot about my home state—5,000 of those 24,000 pensioners in the electorate of Chifley are worried that they will see an increase in their public housing rents because Barry O'Farrell will increase those rents just at the time we are providing assistance.

Mr Perrett: Shame!

Mr HUSIC: A shame indeed. We provide $10.10 in assistance through all the initiatives that we put forward as a transition to a clean energy future to cover the $9.90 average increase. That is a boost to help deal with cost-of-living increases. The member for Flinders has flung around all sorts of playdough stats here—

Mr Hunt: Which one did you disagree with?

Mr HUSIC: I am going to get to that point, don't you worry. The New South Wales government has made all sorts of claims about electricity price increases. In fact, it has been a roulette wheel of stats. The problem has been that the numbers have always gone down. They went from a point when they said that electricity prices would go up by 20 per cent in New South Wales and then, when it was challenged, it went down to 15 per cent. When it was challenged again it went down to 10 per cent, which is pretty much where the Treasury modelling anticipated that this would head.

The New South Wales government also did not take into account the economic growth, particularly the growth in renewables jobs that would occur in New South Wales, and they were roundly hounded for that. They did not take into account renewables jobs, and the Premier also welcomed the fact that New South Wales would be home to the Clean Energy Financing Corporation. They did not say no to that.

The member for Flinders talked a lot about my home state, but I want to give him some home truths. The New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy was out there claiming electricity prices in New South Wales would increase by 16 per cent, the bulk of this due to the carbon price. That was what he said. Eight per cent of that increase, or, as the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has indicated, roughly $3.30, would be as a result of what we are doing by putting a price on carbon. That eight per cent increase is compensated for—it is assisted. What happens to the other eight per cent in New South Wales that they will be paying as a result of what is happening with power prices in New South Wales?

Mr Perrett: It's the same in Queensland.

Mr HUSIC: Queensland, as the member for Moreton has pointed out, has the same deal. So where is the cost-of-living increase, or the assistance to help cover that cost-of-living expense, that we never hear from those opposite? We also had reference to landfills. I can inform the member for Flinders that the biggest driver of costs in New South Wales for taking rubbish to a tip is the waste management levy administered by the New South Wales government. This will continue to be administered by the New South Wales government into the future and will increase costs. Yet we never heard a word from the member for Flinders, or any of those opposite, on what would be provided to compensate or assist families on the way through.

You also might want to know that the New South Wales government was big about holding back on cost-of-living increases, yet we found out in the previous week that close to $300 increases in water bills will eventuate as a result of the New South Wales government backing a submission to IPAR to see those water bills go up.

Those opposite continue to perpetuate myths and mistruths about what will happen. They pretend that they know about the impact of cost-of-living increases but do nothing about it. (Time expired)

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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