SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’ll just make two quick points on two important issues. Firstly, we read today that the Government is planning an advertising campaign to sell their carbon tax. Well, quite frankly, Australians are going to end up paying more than enough for this carbon tax, Australians are going to have to work harder because of this carbon tax and the last thing Australians want to see happen is for millions of their taxpayer dollars to be wasted on an ad campaign trying to tell them how good the carbon tax is for them. Australians are perfectly capable of forming their own judgement on the carbon tax. Julia Gillard and her Ministers are perfectly capable of going out and trying to sell this carbon tax – they don’t need to throw more good money after bad by investing yet more millions of dollars on top of those already spent trying to sell the carbon tax.
Secondly, today I’ll move in the Senate to order for the production of documents related to the Australia Network contract. This has been a debacle and right now the tender process related to the Australia Network stinks of political interference. Twice it appears that an independent assessment panel has made a recommendation of a successful bidder and twice now it seems that the Government has found a way to reject that recommendation. It’s time the Government came clean on this, released all of the documentation and referred the matter to the Auditor-General for immediate investigation.
JOURNALIST: Why isn’t the police investigation good enough? Why do we need the Auditor-General as well?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: The police investigation is purely into the matter of leaks. However, what we have here, it seems, is an awful lot of political interference in this process as well. The entire probity of the tender is under question. That is a perfect job… that is, in fact, the type of role that the Auditor-General was created for. He must… he should undertake an inquiry into the Australia Network.
JOURNALIST: The Government says that when this advertising campaign is rolled out people will understand the carbon tax better and they’ll be okay with it. Is that right?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, the Government may well run an ad campaign – whether people understand it better will depend on whether the Government’s ad campaign is truthful or not. If anybody saw the 7.30 … interview last night with Climate Change Minister Mr Combet they would see very clearly the Government is desperately attempting to mislead Australians. Mr Combet, on multiple occasions, was asked about whether emissions would reduce in Australia and he kept dodging the answer because of course the truth is emissions will go up. The Government should be truthful with the Australian people firstly; secondly, they should back their own capacity to sell their message rather than spending taxpayer dollars on an ad campaign.
JOURNALIST: Senator, isn’t the Coalition being hypocritical on this, though? Isn’t the Government spending a fraction of what the Coalition Government spent on advertising the GST and WorkChoices?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, frankly, advertising WorkChoices didn’t exactly work all that well, Ashleigh. Secondly, what was wrong then should be wrong today.