SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Today in the House of Representatives the Coalition will move to stop Labor from increasing the carbon tax next year. Labor currently plans to increase its carbon tax by 5 per cent next [financial] year and to increase it again in 2014. They further plan to include Australia’s trucking industry in the carbon tax next year. We believe, as we have all along, that the carbon tax is the wrong way to go and we certainly believe that increasing a carbon tax that is already the world’s highest and increasing its scope to the trucking industry, despite it already being the world’s most comprehensive in terms of its coverage of the economy, is very clearly the wrong thing to do.
Australian business is already struggling under a crisis of confidence and under some of the highest cost pressures in the world. Increasing the carbon tax right now will only harm our competitiveness further. It will only hurt the prospects of Australians to get and grow our economy and jobs further in the future. The Ai Group [Australian Industry Group] has released data which demonstrates that the carbon tax is not having an impact on the carbon intensity of Australian businesses. It’s not working to update domestic emissions and under the Government’s own model the carbon tax simply still sees domestic emissions continue to rise through to 2020. There is a better way. The Coalition’s Direct Action Plan will target action to the aspects of the economy where we can get reductions in emissions here in Australia without applying a crippling tax across the entire Australian economy.
JOURNALIST: Won’t this be decided by the election [unclear]. The election is three months away so why do you want to do this now?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Obviously the Coalition is committed, as a first order priority, to remove the carbon tax if we are elected but today we are going to take steps to try to stop the Government from increasing it from next week. It’s one thing to say that you’re going to eliminate the carbon tax but we want to take every step we possibly can between now and the election, as we have done throughout the life of this Parliament, to try to stop or minimise the impact of the carbon tax on the Australian people and the Australian economy. That’s why we think it’s right today to move a motion in the House of Representatives to give Labor, to give the Independents, to give the crossbenchers an opportunity to make a clear statement that the carbon tax should definitely not be going up next week.
JOURNALIST: Gary Humphries – it’s his valedictory speech today. He is expected to warn Tony Abbott not to cut deeply into the public service. Do you agree with him?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, look, Gary will say what Gary wants to say in his valedictory speech. Gary has been a wonderful servant of the people of the ACT [Australian Capital Territory]. He has been a fabulous Liberal, a champion for liberal values. He is a dear friend and colleague who I will miss greatly but who I am sure will, through ways other than elected office, continue to make a huge contribution to representing the ACT, to representing the people of Australia and to public policy in Australia.
JOURNALIST: If Kevin Rudd does take over the leadership this week, should we go to an early election?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The Australian people should have the chance to decide at the earliest possible opportunity how they are going to end this soap opera. This circus has gone on long enough. The circus of Labor’s leadership has been spiralling out of control for three whole years now. It’s now time to end that and absolutely the Australian people should be given the earliest possible opportunity to end this madness.