SIMON BIRMINGHAM: During last year’s election, Wayne Swan described claims that there would be a carbon tax under a re-elected Labor Government as hysteria. Well, today that hysteria comes to reality. Those hysterical claims will actually see the Labor Government legislate a carbon tax – a carbon tax that will have profound impacts across the entire Australian economy; a carbon tax that will see electricity prices for all Australians go up by 10 per cent, gas prices by 9 per cent, competitiveness for Australian industry hit at its core and already we are seeing investment decisions taken because of this carbon tax that sees jobs and dollars and investments go offshore.
Labor has one last chance this morning – one last chance to at least reduce to some extent the massive impost on electricity prices of this carbon tax. The Coalition, with Senator Xenophon, will be moving an amendment – an amendment that will seek to at least stop 10 per cent electricity price hikes potentially turning into 20 per cent because of the Government’s desire to bring forward the payments for advanced purchased electricity permits. They didn’t do that under the CPRS [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme] and there is no reason for them to do it under this model. They should accept this amendment. They should at least ensure that 10 per cent electricity price rises don’t turn into 20 per cent hikes, but ultimately, of course, Julia Gillard should do what she failed to have the courage to do at the last election – have the guts to put this policy to an election. She lacked the courage last time around to be truthful with the Australian people. She’s got a chance to make up for that if Labor believes in this policy. If Labor believes in this policy, if they have the courage of their convictions they will call an election and let the Australian people decide whether or not they want a carbon tax.
JOURNALIST: [unclear].
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: This amendment is a serious amendment. This is a serious issue. Electricity generators have been lobbying all sides of politics. Even the Australian Greens have acknowledged this is a matter worthy of consideration. The challenge for Christine Milne, Bob Brown and the Greens is, if it’s worthy of consideration, it’s worthy of support because this won’t change the target, it won’t stop the carbon tax going through but it will at least have the potential to stop even higher increases in electricity prices being felt by all Australians. That seems like a pretty sensible and serious amendment to me.