The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has submitted the carbon tax repeal bills to the House of Representatives for the third time since last year’s election.
The bills were passed by the House last year and rejected by the Senate in March this year. The new Senate has been recalled on July 7 to consider the bills again.
With Budget legislation still stalled in the Senate, the government concentrated on the carbon tax legislation in Question Time. In the morning, Abbott visited Oxford Freezers in Laverton, Melbourne, and talked about the importance of repealing the carbon tax. In his weekly video message on the weekend, Abbott also focussed on the carbon tax and the delivery of his election commitments.
Until next Monday, the ALP and the Greens have the numbers in the Senate to reject the legislation. From July 1, the balance of power in the Senate shifts to the 8 crossbenchers, including 3 from the Palmer United Party, 1 Motoring Enthusiast Party, 1 Family First, 1 Liberal Democrats, 1 Democratic Labour Party and 1 independent. If the ALP (25) and the Greens (10) are opposed, the government needs 6 of the 8 crossbenchers to pass legislation. If 3 crossbenchers join with the ALP and Greens, the government can be obstructed.
The repeal of the carbon tax is likely to be achieved with the support of a majority of the crossbenchers, including the Palmer United Party senators and Senato-elect Ricky Muir.
- Listen to Abbott’s Laverton media conference (9m)
- Listen to Abbott’s Second Reading Speech (12m – transcript below)
- Watch Abbott’s speech (12m)
- Listen to Abbott’s media conference (9m)
- Listen to Question Time (84m)
- Watch Question Time (85m)
- Watch Abbott’s weekend video message (2m)
Statement from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Today I re-introduced the Carbon Tax repeal bill into Parliament.
We are doing this because of our commitment to take real action to help families deal with cost of living pressures.
Scrapping the Carbon Tax will save the average family $550 a year.
It will also remove a $9 billion hit on the economy. This will help create jobs.
The Carbon Tax could have been scrapped by now but Labor and the Greens continue to oppose our attempts to do so.
On 1 July, the new Senate takes office and it should immediately help families and small businesses by dealing with this matter urgently.
Scrapping the Carbon Tax is part of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy to build a strong, prosperous economy for a safe, secure Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Second Reading speech to the House of Representatives on the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013.
Thanks Mr Deputy Speaker. I present the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No. 2 and the explanatory memorandum to this Bill and the True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No. 2, the True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 No.2, the Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No.2, the Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No.2, the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No. 2 and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, No.2.
Thanks so much Mr Deputy Speaker, today the Government reintroduces the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013.
As I said back in November of last year when I introduced this Bill for the first time, the Australian people have already voted on this Bill and now the Parliament again gets its chance.
The people have spoken and now, it’s up to this Parliament to show that it’s listened.
The Australian people pronounced their judgment against the carbon tax: they want it gone and this Bill delivers.
It delivers on the Coalition’s commitment to the Australian people to scrap this toxic tax.
So Mr Deputy Speaker, the Budget that the Government delivered recently was tough but it was visionary.
It was about setting this country on a path to long-term structural change.
But, a cornerstone of this Government’s plan for a stronger economy, for lower taxes, for less regulation and for stronger businesses, is the repeal of the carbon tax.
The first impact of this Bill will be on households whose overall costs will fall by about $550 a year on average.
Because of this Bill, household electricity bills will be around $200 lower next financial year without the carbon tax.
Household gas bills will be about $70 lower next financial year without the carbon tax.
Prices for groceries, for household items and for services will also fall because the price of power is embedded in every price in our economy.
This is a Bill to reduce the bills of the Australian people – that’s what it is – it’s a Bill to reduce the bills of the people of Australia.
When the price of power comes down, the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission will be ready to ensure that these price reductions are passed on to households and to businesses.
But – and this is important Mr Deputy Speaker – families and pensioners will keep the tax cuts and the benefit increases already provided.
The carbon tax will go, but the carbon tax compensation will stay so that every Australian should be better off.
Repealing the carbon tax will reduce costs for all Australian businesses, for every single one of them.
Now the previous government said and argued that only big business paid the carbon tax but this simply wasn’t true. Every small business paid the carbon tax through higher electricity and gas bills and higher costs for supplies.
As well, Mr Deputy Speaker, the carbon tax acts as a reverse tariff.
Not only does the carbon tax make it more difficult for Australian businesses to compete abroad, it makes it more difficult for domestic businesses to compete at home – because there is no carbon tax on imports.
So Mr Deputy Speaker, repealing the carbon tax removes over 1,000 pages of primary and subordinate legislation.
Repealing the carbon tax cuts the size of the climate change bureaucracy.
So, repealing the carbon tax will reduce the cost of living, make jobs more secure and improve the competitive position of our country.
That’s what it does: it reduces the cost of living, it makes jobs more secure and it improves the competitive position of our country.
Now why would anyone be against that, particularly when it’s what the Australian people have voted for?
Mr Speaker, repealing the carbon tax is what the employers and what the jobs providers of our country want now.
The Business Council of Australia for instance “supports the wind-up of the current carbon pricing mechanism because it places excessive costs on business and households and because (our) carbon charge…is now one of the highest in the world;” that’s what the BCA says about the carbon tax.
The carbon tax has ripped through the economy, hitting schools, hitting hospitals, nursing homes, charities, churches, council swimming pools and community centres.
It has hit each and every group and each and every individual that uses power – and that was always its goal: to make electricity more expensive.
That was the intention of the previous government, to put power prices up because that was their way of reducing emissions.
The intention of the new Government, of this Government, is to put power prices down by axing this toxic tax and by using other means to reduce emissions.
By reducing the cost of electricity and gas, we will help to make households better off, workers more secure and our economy stronger.
Now Mr Deputy Speaker, no one should be in any doubt – the Government is repealing the carbon tax in full, we are repealing the carbon tax in full. We are doing what we were elected to do.
Others have said that they would terminate the carbon tax, but they were only renaming it.
Well, Mr Speaker, we are not renaming it. We are abolishing the carbon tax in full.
Repealing the carbon tax at the end of the financial year provides certainty for business and it simplifies the transition.
It means that the Government will not be proceeding with the previous government’s legislated carbon tax increase that would have taken effect from the 1 July.
Now Mr Deputy Speaker, unfortunately, the new Government cannot undo the past, we can only make the future better – and that is precisely what we intend to do.
Under this Government, the carbon tax will not apply from the 1st of July so there will be no need for further compensation packages.
We will end the merry-go-round of carbon tax industry assistance that takes from one pocket and puts less back in the other.
We will ensure that the benefits of repealing the carbon tax are passed on to consumers.
The ACCC will have further powers to take action against any business that engages in price exploitation in relation to the carbon tax repeal.
There will be penalties of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220,000 for individuals.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it is prudent to do what we reasonably can to reduce carbon emissions.
But we don’t believe in ostracising any particular fuel and we don’t believe in harming economic growth.
Climate change is a serious issue and we do have strong policies to come into place so that we rest lightly on the planet.
The Government is repealing the carbon tax because there is a less complicated and less costly way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a way that will actually reduce emissions and won’t damage the economy.
So, we’ll scrap the carbon tax and then proceed with our Direct Action Plan.
The centrepiece of this Direct Action Plan will be the Emissions Reduction Fund – a market-based mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions; a fund which provides a powerful and direct additional incentive for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The $2.55 billion fund will use positive incentives to reduce Australia’s emissions and it will prioritise cost-effective, targeted means to do so.
It’s an incentive-based approach which will support Australian businesses and households to lower their energy costs at the same time as reducing Australia’s emissions.
It will see us plant more trees, get more carbon captured in soils, clean up power stations and use smarter technology.
We believe, Mr Deputy Speaker, that by the time the five per cent reduction kicks in in 2020 we’ll have an overall reduction in our emissions of some 22 per cent of 2000 levels off a business as usual and this is serious action about a significant problem.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the carbon tax is a $9 billion hit on our economy this year alone.
It is a $9 billion hit on jobs, a $9 billion burden on investment and a $9 billion burden on Australians that we just don’t need.
This Bill gets rid of it.
This Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker, is the Government’s Bill to reduce the Australian people’s bill and so I commend the Bill to the House and I move that this Bill be read a second time.
Transcript of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Melbourne media conference.
ABBOTT: It is very good to be here at Oxford freezers again. This has been one of the many businesses very badly damaged by the carbon tax. Oxford has a $4 million a year power bill. They have a $60,000 a month carbon tax bill. It is high time that this business and so many businesses like it right around Australia were liberated from this toxic tax. It is high time that the households of Australia were liberated from this toxic tax.
This current Parliament was elected to get rid of the carbon tax. If there was one thing that I said time and time again before the election, it was this – change the government and you will lose the carbon tax. Well, the people did change the government. The people did change the senate. I will be reintroducing the carbon tax repeal legislation into the Parliament today. It will be dealt with urgently by the new Senate after 1 July and I expect this carbon tax – this toxic tax – to be gone and a business like this will benefit to the tune of $60 thousand a month, but perhaps more importantly, every household right around Australia will benefit to the tune of $550 a year.
So, this is a $550 a year windfall to every household in Australia. The only people who don’t get that are the Australian Labor Party. The only people in denial about the election result are the Australian Labor Party. The legislation is going back into the Parliament today. It will be dealt with by the Senate urgently after the first of July and I expect this toxic tax will be gone.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, are you confident you have the support of the crossbenchers to get rid of the legislation – the tax?
ABBOTT: If the Labor Party were fair dinkum, the crossbenchers would be unnecessary. Let’s not forget that the Labor Party said prior to the election that they were terminating the carbon tax. Having told the people they were terminating the carbon tax- they have consistently voted in favour of the carbon tax in the Parliament.
So really, it is the Labor Party which is hitting every household with $550 a year in unnecessary expense. As for the crossbenchers, every crossbench member of the Senate has stated opposition to the carbon tax, which is why I think the public are entitled to be confident that the carbon tax will be gone – will be gone – shortly after the first of July.
QUESTION: There is a raft of Budget legislation yet to be passed before July 1 – what impact will that have on both the federal Budget and household budgets?
ABBOTT: We were elected to do a number of things; to repeal the carbon, to stop the boats and to get the Budget back under control. The Budget that Joe Hockey brought down just a few weeks ago does precisely that.
It scales back the debt and deficit disaster to a situation of budget balance in 2017-18. It cuts $300 billion almost off projected peak debt. We have brought down our answer to Labor’s debt and deficit disaster. The challenge now is for the Labor Party to tell us what their answer is to the debt and deficit disaster that they created.
QUESTION: Journalist Peter Greste’s verdict should be handed down today. I understand you have had a conversation with the Egyptian Prime Minister. What are you hoping to achieve, what do you think you can achieve for Peter Greste?
ABBOTT: I did have a conversation with President El Sisi over the weekend. President El Sisi is determined to do whatever he can to restore peace and security to Egypt and I commend him on that.
I did make point that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, he would have simply been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood. The point I made was in the long run a free and vigorous media are good for democracy, are good for security, and are good for stability.
QUESTION: How critical is it that he is released?
ABBOTT: In the end it is up to the Egyptian justice system to do its job. I did my best to put it to the President that as an Australian journalist, Peter Greste would not have been taking sides. He would have simply been reporting on the events that he saw before him. He certainly would’ve had no interest in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood. He simply would have been providing his viewers with what he thought was the story of the day because that’s what Australian journalists do.
QUESTION: Is there an extradition treaty in place with Egypt with any possibility of having him extradited if he is jailed?
ABBOTT: That’s a fair question but I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for you.
QUESTION: On another matter, are you considering broadening ASIO’s surveillance powers? If so what safeguards would be there to protect normal Australians at home on their computers?
ABBOTT: The best thing we can do for Australians at home is to ensure that jihadis do not come back to this country. We will do everything we humanly can to stop jihadist terrorists coming into this country and if they do return to this country, we will do everything we reasonably can to ensure that they are not moving amongst the Australian community. I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that this is a Government which believes in border security we have demonstrated not just that we believe in border security, but we are effective in establishing border security.
We have for the last six months stopped illegal boats arriving in Australia and we are determined to be just as tough in stopping jihadists arriving in Australia. We’ve stopped the illegal boats, we will ensure that we stop the jihadists as well because the last thing we want is people who have been radicalised and militarised by experience with these al-Qaeda offshoots in the Middle East – the last thing we want is these people who have been radicalised and militarised returning to create mischief here in Australia.
QUESTION: Do we need to revisit the debate on metadata or data retention? It’s something Nicola Roxon tried to do – is it important for safeguarding Australia, keeping Australia safe?
ABBOTT: It’s important to ensure that our police and our security services have the means at their disposal to ensure that our community is safe. The safety of our community is the paramount concern of this Government. I want to repeat that- the safety of our community is the paramount concern of this Government and we will do whatever is reasonably necessary to secure the safety of our community.
QUESTION: On another topic, do you think the Greens will support your paid parental leave scheme?
ABBOTT: The paid parental leave scheme that the Coalition will be in due course bringing before the Parliament is the same paid parental leave scheme that we took to the 2010 election and to the 2013 election. We have a definite mandate to bring this scheme in. Let’s not forget that this scheme is designed to ensure that paid parental leave is not a welfare entitlement but a workplace entitlement. It is designed to ensure that people throughout Australia get access to the same kind of paid parental leave rights that public servants have long had. If it’s right and proper for public servants on paid parental leave, staff at the ABC on paid parental leave to be paid at their real wage, well then it’s right and proper for people in the small and medium size businesses in the suburbs and regional towns and country centres of Australia to get paid at their real wage when they’re on paid parental leave. I see this as a matter of fundamental fairness, of fundamental justice. I see this as a matter, not just of social progress but of economic progress as well. This is an economic reform as well as an important measure of fairness for families.