HOWARD SATTLER: And if you think the Government wouldn’t manipulate the support or otherwise for this [carbon] tax, this series of tax bills – there’s 18 of them, by the way – listen to this. They total 1,100 pages of legislation. Guess how long you’ve got to respond to make submissions – you, if you’re an organisation or an individual? Guess how long you’ve got? You’ve got a total of six days. By this Thursday, time will be up. Joining us now is Senator Simon Birmingham. He’s the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to [for] the Environment. Hello, Simon.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: G’day, Howard, and good afternoon to your listeners.
HOWARD SATTLER: Well, I didn’t know this. I mean, they put the bills out there right after the first reading, is that right?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, that’s right. They finally introduced the bills and started debate on this in the Parliament last week. As is customary, there’s usually a good Parliamentary inquiry into these things, but far from a good one, they are setting up, and have set up, the ultimate shotgun inquiry. This is going to all be over in the blink of an eye. The inquiry was formally established and got rolling last Thursday, initiated the call for submissions but of course it couldn’t get an ad in the paper until Saturday at the earliest and everyone has until just Thursday of this week to comment and make a submission on this carbon tax package of 19 bills, more than 1100 pages of new laws for Australia.
HOWARD SATTLER: 19 bills? Not 18, I got that wrong. 19, is it?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: It’s an ever increasing feast, you know, Howard. When they put the exposure draft out, they said there were 13. When Anthony Albanese gave the timeline for the legislation he said there were 18 and then when they finally referred the legislation to this committee there were 19, so that’s how much of a moving feast it is.
HOWARD SATTLER: Are you supposed to read 19 bills, 1100 pages, right? You’re supposed to consume all of that, sit down and try and work out a comment and get it in by Thursday or you’ve missed out?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, that’s right, Howard, and that’s a disgrace but I would urge people not to be so disheartened by that as to not actually put some comment in. In the end, as you know, people are very passionate about this issue. You were at a rally there yesterday, I heard you saying, and many, many passionate people with different perspectives and their voices deserve to be heard and this is the one and only opportunity through the Parliamentary process for people to comment directly on Julia Gillard’s carbon tax laws, so if they want to have their say…
HOWARD SATTLER: If she only gets a handful of contrary comments, she or the Minister who puts it up is going to get there and say ‘look, hardly anybody opposes it’ – that’s what they’re going to say, aren’t they?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: That is the real risk, but of course you wouldn’t put it beyond this Government to manipulate the process to have this farcical rushed select committee and then, of course, to use the outcomes for their benefit. In fact, they’ve already stacked the committee. It’s a got a Labor-Greens-Independent majority on it, it’s got a Labor Chair, it’s got a Greens Deputy Chair, so it’s well and truly stacked but the Opposition will be in there doing our best to highlight the case against and we need people to make sure they make their views known to us so that we can point to the evidence and the emotion and the passion, against it. Look, it’s worth, Howard, just quickly highlighting how this contrasts to when John Howard did the GST [Goods and Services Tax]. He had five months’ worth of inquiry into the GST legislation by five different Parliamentary committees, he let the Opposition Labor Party chair them, so that all the issues were actually thrashed out. He wasn’t afraid of a bit of debate and scrutiny; this Government just wants it all over with as quick as possible.
HOWARD SATTLER: Well, the other thing, he didn’t, and I’m not taking political sides… he told us, when he was going to the election, if he was elected, if his side was elected, he was going to get a GST, we were going to get a GST.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Dead right. When he changed his mind on a GST, he took it back to the people and that’s what we’ve been calling on Julia Gillard to do for a long time, that’s what rallies like yesterday’s, of course, are all about and it’s what she should do but, instead, she won’t put it to the people through an election and now she’s in such a hurry to make people pay this tax she won’t even let them have their say through a Parliamentary inquiry.
HOWARD SATTLER: And if they are going to have their say, they’d better be quick. Where do they send their replies?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Okay, you’ve got to send your submissions in either by letter, or post, to the carbon tax legislation inquiry care of Parliament House in Canberra or I can give you an email address…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … it’s just a little bit of a mouthful – it is JSCACEFL@…
HOWARD SATTLER: What’s that stand for?!
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: That stands for the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation…
HOWARD SATTLER: Oh, they’re trying to make it impossible! Look, that is ridiculous! JSCACEFL…?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Yep, @APH – which stands for Australian Parliament House, so that one’s straightforward –
HOWARD SATTLER: I’ll say it again – JSCACEFL@APH – which stands for Australian Parliament House – dot-gov-dot-au. This is a… oh… where’d they come up with that idea?!
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Oh, well, this, of course, is all part of their spin. It wouldn’t be called the carbon tax legislation.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: It had to be called Australia’s Clean Energy Future Legislation. It’s all part of, of course, the great spin job that…
HOWARD SATTLER: They’ve changed the name of this tax more times than you and I have had breakfast.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: That’s right. Look, I would just urge all of your listeners and all Australians if you’re passionate about this, submissions shouldn’t be a daunting thing. Just sit down, make your views known in a quick email and get them in there so at least we have a body of evidence and a body of views to point to the passion and concern that’s in the Australian community.
HOWARD SATTLER: Thank you, Simon.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: A pleasure, mate.
HOWARD SATTLER: Liberal Senator for South Australia, Simon Birmingham. That is a farce. Til next [this] Thursday, you’ve got – that’s it – to put in a submission for or against the tax. The ‘fors’ will be all primed up and ready to go. And you’ve got to try and read 1100 pages – well, don’t even bother trying to do that – of carbon tax legislation. We know enough about it, I think we know enough about it, to know that we don’t want it. So you’ve got to send it in to Strewth! Unbelievable!