SIMON BIRMINGHAM:  Just as Julia Gillard promised that there would be ‘no carbon tax under a Government I lead’, equally she promised that she would ‘end the abuse’ of government funded, taxpayer funded advertising. Yet what we had yesterday was confirmation from Greg Combet that the Government is looking at advertising, is talking to communications and public relations agencies. This is yet another gross breach of promise by the Gillard Government. Today in the Senate, I will move a motion for the Senate to make it clear that it stands opposed to this gross waste of taxpayer money, to this outrageous political use of taxpayer funds. [pause for lawnmower]
Today in the Senate, I will move a motion for the Senate to make clear its total opposition to this gross abuse of taxpayer funds and this gross waste of money in a purely political campaign related to this carbon tax. This will be a particular test for the Australian Greens. They’ve always railed against Government funded advertising for political purposes. They should support this motion. I encourage them to support this motion, to join the Opposition and hopefully other crossbenchers in making clear our opposition to tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being used to prop up the Government’s con and the carbon tax sales pitch.
JOURNALIST:  Thousands of people are expected to protest out the front [unclear] the carbon tax today. Do you think Tony Abbott risks associating himself with the climate change deniers by addressing them?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM:  I think Tony Abbott is right to talk to any group that wants to make clear their opposition to the carbon tax. He is right to sell his message right across the country, whether they be people who might be ‘sceptics’ about climate change, might be ‘believers’ in climate change. Whatever the case may be, Tony’s got a message to sell and that’s an important message and that is that there is a better way. There’s a better policy, there’s a policy alternative that can deliver ‘win win’ outcomes by improving our soils, by investing in new technology, that doesn’t involve imposing a big new tax on everything. That’s the clear message and he should be, as we all should be, talking to as many people as possible.
JOURNALIST:  What do you think [unclear] concerned about possible violence [unclear]?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM:  I would always urge people to engage in peaceful protest, but I defend everyone’s right to have their say, defend everyone’s right to protest. What we will see today, though, are of course thousands of Australians, not just in Canberra but in other cities around Australia, making clear their opposition to this carbon tax. This is a real grass roots movement of concern – families, householders, people who are worried and they’re rightly worried because it will hit their electricity bill by several hundred dollars, hit their petrol bill when they go to fill the car up, cost them for everything they do in every aspect of their lives. They’re right to worry, they’re right to protest, the Government should stand up and listen.
Thank you.