GARY HARDGRAVE: Simon Birmingham is a Liberal Senator from South Australia and he says only three days left if you want to lodge something on the and I’m going to use the word again carbon tax submission. I hate using the so called ‘C-bomb’. Simon Birmingham joins me. Only three days left what can we tell the Government that they don’t want to listen to?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, g’day, Gary, and good afternoon to your listeners. Look, it is only three days left for what is very much a very shotgun inquiry into the carbon tax legislation. It’s only 19 new laws, 19 bills, comprising more than 1100 pages of legislation and Australians have been given less than a week to get their submissions in to this and just three days are left now before Thursday of this week when the taking of submissions will close, so I would urge all Australians who are concerned, who are worried they may feel that it’s pointless but please don’t please at least log on to the email, get out the pen and paper and flick a quick submission through so that the Parliamentary record can record your concerns.
GARY HARDGRAVE: Well, it’s important people do record their concerns, Simon, but, you know, when we had that ‘return to sender’ campaign over the carbon tax information folder we found out Australia Post were dumping them in the bin, so a lot of people are understanding that the Government doesn’t want to listen.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, look, on this occasion, Gary, we know that the Parliamentary processes will ensure that all submissions are recorded, that all submissions are listed, and at least it will provide a record of just how passionate the outpouring of public angst about this carbon tax is. Now, people are rightfully concerned. We’re now being drip-fed new Treasury modelling that we haven’t seen the full details of yet but we know that combined gas, electricity and water prices will all go up by 7.9 per cent in the first year and, of course, keep going up every year after that. Now, within that, if you break it down, we can assume that electricity will be 10 per cent plus in the first year. These are massive increases to utility prices for no clear economic or environmental gain economic harm, no clear environmental gain and, of course, ultimately we’ll see a perverse situation where Australia’s emissions reductions are met by purchasing permits from overseas to the tune of 3, 3½, billion dollars a year by 2020.
GARY HARDGRAVE: Now, let’s explain that carefully. What that means is that overseas polluters will be able to pollute because they’re paying a penalty in the overseas country which is then transferred into these carbon trading commodities and Australia will purchase into that as well, so all we’re doing is subsidising overseas polluters from what I can work out.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Gary, certainly what happens is Australian companies will buy permits from overseas to offset their carbon emissions here in Australia and the result of that is twofold: firstly, that you’ve got $3½ billion dollars in 2020 going overseas to buy these permits money going from Australian companies that could be invested within those companies in new developments in Australia, but it’ll go overseas and secondarily, of course, those companies will pass the cost impact of that on to their consumers here in Australia, so it will simply drive up the prices of everything in Australia. The Government wants to claim that it’s compensating people for this carbon tax, but how on earth can the Government compensate people for cost pressures generated by something for which the Government doesn’t even get the money the money for these permits goes overseas and if they intend to keep the compensation up with it then there’ll be a budget black hole but transparently they won’t keep the compensation up and people will ultimately just be worse off.
GARY HARDGRAVE: You get that feeling that’s what’s going to become the consequence of it all it’s only a transition period. Now, we’re hearing the economic miracle of the carbon tax will only see rent increases of 30 or 40 cents a month or whatever. I find it marvellous what a great thing the carbon tax is going to be!
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: (laughs) Well, the Housing Industry Association has done their modelling and they estimate the cost impact of the carbon tax on building a new home will be in the order of $5000. Now, that’s a lot for people who have scrimped and saved and put together just as much as they possibly can to afford the land, to afford the stamp duty, to afford the costs of building, to afford the cost of finance. To then find that there’s an extra slug on there from the carbon tax will just cripple many in the housing sector…
GARY HARDGRAVE: You must be pretty impressed by the way the timber industry is saying that carbon is stored in timber, so build your house out of timber? It’s really pretty terrific!
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: (laughs) Well, you do have the situation always in these things where a lot of as the economists like to call them ‘rent seekers’ come out of the woodwork. They’ll find their own either benefits from it or they’ll find an opportunity to seek Government assistance for their particular industry to offset the impact, but a new study today on manufacturing shows that nine in ten jobs in manufacturing are in businesses that won’t receive any assistance whatsoever from the Government under this carbon tax, so the vast majority of Australia’s manufacturing jobs will be in a situation where, for all the Government talks about industry assistance or compensation, they get none. Of course, none of the jobs in the services industry receive any compensation but all of the businesses in the services industry face 10 per cent-plus increases in their electricity costs. You can only imagine, of course, Queensland a tourism state just what that does to every hotel operator, every tourism operator…
GARY HARDGRAVE: Well, mate, we’ve got to be able to afford to go on holidays! We’re not going to be able to afford it if our unit cost of living is going up I don’t care what the Government says about compensation! That’s how I see it anyway, so…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, and, Gary, in terms of going on holidays, once again the perversity of the carbon tax is if I catch a Qantas flight to head up to Queensland for a holiday there’ll be a carbon tax impost on that travel, but if I catch it to leave the country there won’t be. Work that one out!
GARY HARDGRAVE: Yeah, alright. Well, Simon Birmingham, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary on [for] the Environment, Liberal Senator for South Australia, thanks for your time.