IAN HENSCHKE: South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham has just called in regarding the carbon tax. It’s passed the Lower House. Good morning, Simon Birmingham.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Ian. Good morning to listeners.
IAN HENSCHKE: Now, Tony Abbott has said that he’s written in blood, or he’s going to write in blood, that he’ll overturn the tax. That’s the situation?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Ian, we despair at the fact that Australians have not been given a choice on this carbon tax. Julia Gillard went to the last election promising there would be no carbon tax under her Government. Today, she, along with 72 Labor MPs, have betrayed their electorates, betrayed the Australian people, by passing it through the House of Representatives. Each of them, including all of those from South Australia, stand condemned for doing so, but [the Government] having deprived Australian people of a choice on this policy at the last election, Tony Abbott and the Coalition… we’re determined to ensure that we give all Australians a choice on it at the next election.
IAN HENSCHKE: So the next election will be the carbon tax election – that’s what you’re saying?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, if this Government manages to get it through the Senate, if they don’t see the error of their ways before this legislation is voted in the Senate…
IAN HENSCHKE: We just heard from Penny Wong this morning, though, saying that she didn’t think there’d be any trouble with it going through the Senate. Phil Coorey, the political correspondent at The Sydney Morning Herald said he couldn’t see any trouble, so…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, look, as long as Julia Gillard’s leadership holds secure – and that’s a big ‘if’ – and as long as the Labor-Greens alliance holds tight – and that’s perhaps less of an ‘if’ at present – then obviously it probably will pass the Senate. That’ll be a terrible thing for Australia. We know from the Government’s own modelling that real incomes will be lower in future than they would otherwise have been for Australians, the cost of living will go up, a 10 per cent rise initially in electricity and that’ll just keep going up, that Australians…
IAN HENSCHKE: But, Simon Birmingham, Penny Wong said this morning that there will be packages of compensation for people. She also pointed out that the Liberal Party in fact supported a scheme prior to the last election where they would have an emissions trading scheme and she said that the Liberal Party has all sorts of views on this.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Ian, the Liberal Party very clearly went to the last election with a policy for a direct action fund, a program that would target emissions reduction in Australia. The Labor Party went to the last election with a policy for a citizens’ convention, a discussion to try to get consensus on the climate change debate. Their promise was scrapped. Their policy was scrapped in favour of the carbon tax. We stand by our direct action fund which would deliver emissions reductions in Australia whereas the great irony of this carbon tax package is that emissions in Australia will still go up and it only achieves its objectives by spending, in 2020, around $3 billion a year to purchase international carbon permits and under the Treasury’s own modelling, the Government’s own modelling, by 2050 that goes up to close to $60 billion a year being spent offshore to purchase international permits.
IAN HENSCHKE: Well, thanks for your thoughts this morning, Senator Simon Birmingham from the Federal Opposition there and, as we heard, this will be heading towards the Senate so if it doesn’t get stopped in the Senate we’ll have a carbon tax and it looks like we’ll have a carbon tax election after that.