SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The Labor Government’s carbon tax arrangements are unravelling before their very eyes already. What we see today are revelations that Ministers don’t think tax cuts are possible as part of compensation. Now, I stood here just a couple of days ago and predicted that there would be absolutely no reduction in income tax rates and absolutely no increase to income tax thresholds under this Government’s carbon tax plan and that will be the case they will not deliver on any of those things, there will not be any tax cuts, no matter how much this Government tries to create some shroud of mystery, tries to distract the conversation from the tax cuts.
Equally revealed today, of course, are Gary Banks’s comments from the Productivity Commission which show that everything Julia Gillard has been saying about international action, all of the countries she and Greg Combet and others try to list off as having action that might be comparable to this carbon tax, is nothing more than yet another lie because Gary Banks has made it very clear the Productivity Commission will not be able to model the effective carbon price in other countries and they won’t be able to do that because there are not national ETS schemes in place in these other countries, there are not national carbon taxes in place in these other countries. There are a raft of measures, most of which are a long, long way away from the types of things that Julia Gillard is wanting to pursue.
And on just one other point, if the carbon tax is descending into chaos, the NBN is already there. Telstra has of course had to defer its vote on its agreement with the Government, its multi-billion dollar agreement with the Government to make the NBN happen, and today it is highly, highly unlikely that critical enabling legislation will pass the Parliament for the NBN and it will all be Stephen Conroy’s fault. He introduced this legislation, he’s had weeks to get it in order and yet last night he tabled dozens of pages of amendments. The Senate, frankly, will just not have the time today to deal with those amendments. His legislation is unlikely to pass and he is descending his NBN into chaos just like the carbon tax.
JOURNALIST: Was it wrong of Tony Abbott to speak in front of these offensive signs at the rally yesterday?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’ve heard what Julia Gillard and Greg Combet and Bob Brown have had to say and what I would urge them to do is to be very careful about not being people in glass houses throwing stones. I remember very well the Howard years. I remember the many different protests, be they protests about the pulp mill in Tasmania or protests about WorkChoices or protests about the Iraq war, that were addressed by leaders of Labor and the Greens, and I remember the phrases that were used phrases like ‘Jackboot Johnny’ to describe the former Prime Minister. They were phrases trying to link him, of course, to issues like the Nazi regime during World War II. There were lots of offensive phrases used during those years. Rank hypocrisy is on show here. Now, I would urge everyone in any debate to use polite, thoughtful, calm, rational language. That’s what I would urge any protesters to do, but we cannot be responsible for what others say any more than Labor or the Greens can be responsible for what their supporters say. I would just urge them to look back over history and not engage in this ‘pot calling the kettle black’ activity that they are frankly doing at present.
JOURNALIST: Two wrongs don’t make a right, though.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: And as I said, I’m not blaming them for what happened in the past. They can no more be held accountable for what people at rallies or protests that they may have spoken at have said than we can be held accountable for it. I wish the language wasn’t used, just as I wish the language against Mr Howard, Mr Downer, Mr Costello or others wasn’t used in the past but, frankly, for Bob Brown to stand here or Greg Combet or Julia Gillard to shriek these howls of protest as they are really is a little bit rich. I never heard them saying it under the Howard Government.