That the Senate take note of the answers given by ministers to questions without notice asked today relating to a proposed carbon tax.
Many people around Australia would have been listening to question time today, many of them wanting to know about, and hoping that there would be some provision of information about, the exact process of how one of the most important changes to our taxation system, to the future of this nation, is going to be debated. As many would know, this is a very, very unpopular tax.
Sadly, the Gillard Labor government—curiously, it seems under direction from the Greens—has introduced 19 bills, that is, 1,100 pages of very complex legislation on a whole range of levels. Ordinary people are very concerned about many of those levels. A lot of very ordinary people have indicated to me that they would like to be able to have their point of view. Sadly, the government has given the joint committee that was formed last Thursday, 15 September, and the Australian public—those who are really concerned that the Australian parliament listen to their particular concerns about whatever job or what circumstances they find themselves in—just one week. That is right, one week for the Australian people to have an input into one of the biggest changes to this country’s economy, its taxation, right down to the way that we live.
I am not sure what sort of a democracy the government advocates. One week for Australians to read, understand and comment on 1,100 pages of detailed legislation I think confuses informed democracy for some other place. I remember the GST legislation—it took five months and four committees, and they actually held hearings. I understand, and I just forgot that little part of it, the government says, ‘We are cancelling the hearings. Sorry, we are no longer going around Australia, as parliament always should, to listen to what people have to say.’ A lot of people, instead of being detailed and writing their submission, want to make an oral submission. They want to appear before a joint House and Senate committee and have a say. But no. ‘We have cancelled that.’ It is like saying, ‘Sorry, we are cancelling democracy.’ This is the biggest tax, the biggest change in this place, and they say, ‘You’ve got a couple of days and then we are cancelling democracy.’ All of this has been at the behest of the Greens.
It is interesting to see that the Greens have come into this place. I used to sit on the other side and get lectured, originally by just Senator Bob Brown. He has been joined by a variety of others but the thematic is the same: ‘Don’t gag debate’ and ‘Let’s have complete transparency’. This was possibly before your time, to those Greens senators who are here, but believe me, I listened carefully because I have not been on that side since then. At a time when the New Zealand government is scaling back its ETS, when the carbon price in Europe is collapsing, why is the government rushing to put in place the most expensive carbon price in the world and locking it in?
Is this a government that thinks of what is in the national interest or, again the thematic, ‘I am thinking about what is in the Labor Party’s interests’? What is in the Labor Party’s interests is simply acceding to the wishes of the minority groups, and the minority group I am speaking of are the Greens. For sure, if the Greens need to keep Labor in power, they will hang on to power at whatever cost, particularly the national cost.
In one of her answers, the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Wong, claimed that the coalition was fighting increases in pensions. We are saying, ‘No, no increases in pensions.’ How duplicitous. The increase is simply compensation for dollars that have been ripped out of pensioners’ handbags. The truth is that the compensation is only once. The tax is forever. The tax will go up and up every year and the compensation for ripping dollars out of the handbags and pockets of pensioners will not go up. That is the truth. That is the sort of information that people are asking for and need to get. I suspect they are never going to get it out of those opposite.
What about this fantastic modelling? The only thing that we cannot seek is the taxation modelling.
Senator Ludwig interjecting—
To the minister interjecting, I tell you this: you have given Australia a clear indication today: No hearings, no democracy, let’s count it into a week. On the Wednesday, when the only people of import—the Treasury—are scheduled, will its modelling be there for our scrutiny? I bet your bottom dollar, it will be absent.
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110919 Answers to Questions on Notice – Carbon pricing.pdf