LEON BYNER: Well, you have heard Senator Bob Brown give his view on the business of the carbon tax. We’ve now got Mathias Cormann, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, live and Simon Birmingham, Liberal Senator for South Australia. First of all, Mathias Cormann, the claim was made by Bob Brown that if Tony Abbott was to have his scheme, which is not going to be a CPRS [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme] or a carbon tax, it would cost taxpayers nearly $800.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, that is just a completely ridiculous and false claim and Bob Brown knows it. I mean, he is just repeating Labor Party propaganda. He has clearly now become a fully owned subsidiary of this Gillard Labor Government. If I can just make a point here, the Gillard Government’s carbon tax is expected to raise about $27 billion worth of revenue. That is over the forward estimates. Now, the package they announced on Sunday includes expenditure of about $31 billion, so they actually expect to spend $4 billion more on their carbon tax package over the forward estimates than what they raise. Only the Labor Party can come up with a multi-billion dollar new tax which actually leaves the budget $4 billion short. Now, the Coalition’s direct action policy costs $3.2 billion over the forward estimates, so that is less than what the Government’s own carbon tax package is costing the budget.
LEON BYNER: What about Bob Brown’s claim that the Liberals or the Coalition would reward the polluters pay them?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That’s just completely wrong. What we’ve got to observe here is the Labor-Green carbon tax will push up the cost of everything, it’ll make Australia less competitive internationally, it’ll cost jobs, it’ll hurt small business and all of that without doing anything to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The Coalition’s direct action policy, in contrast, provides incentives to business and to others to help achieve emissions reductions in Australia in a way that actually achieves net reductions in global emissions.
LEON BYNER: Okay. Simon Birmingham, I put to Bob Brown a very reasonable question about the acquisition by Shenhua, which is a communist backed company, that’s come in and bought arable land and will convert it to coal mining. Why has the Coalition not been screaming about this? Or does it agree with it?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, Leon, the Coalition has been making quite a bit of noise about this. The Coalition has initiated Senate inquiries into it and I know those inquiries are actually taking place, last week and this week as we speak, and, Leon, on the issue of water being owned by overseas entities, can I say that, following on from the conversations we’ve had, just in the last couple of weeks I placed a series of questions on the Senate Notice Paper to the Government asking them to detail exactly how much water is owned by overseas entities, who it’s owned by and, if they don’t have that data, to detail why they don’t have it and when they will get it and I will give you and your listeners those answers as soon as we get them back because I know you’ve been asking for that information for a long time.
LEON BYNER: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk in a moment… we’re going to check out the obvious things of what are happening around Adelaide and the rest of the world in a sec with Anne Stone. When we come back, you’re putting on kind of an Australian road show to get feedback from people and a lot of people will say ‘well, that’s just a bit of political grandstanding’, we’ll get to that in a sec but, before we do, we will be talking to Frontier Economics’ Danny Price. Now the reason we give Danny Price a bit of cred, his company with the New South Wales Carr Government ran one of the first ever CPRS schemes in Australia, so we’ll have a look at his analysis, and just find out what the situation will be for taxpayers, right after this.
LEON BYNER: … I mean, Labor will say, and you know this, this is just a bit of grandstanding.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, Leon, we are here in South Australia today talking to families and businesses about the impact of the carbon tax on them. Obviously our objective is to explain to them the flaws of the carbon tax as we see them and one of the massive flaws is that the Labor-Green carbon tax is actually going to make overseas polluters more competitive than even the most environmentally efficient equivalent business here in Australia for example, Adelaide Brighton. We will be visiting Adelaide Brighton this morning. Now, they will face a carbon tax if this legislation goes through the Parliament and at a cost that is not faced by cement producers in China. Now if we just help Chinese cement producers take market share away from Adelaide Brighton, what that will do… it’ll shift emissions overseas, it’ll shift jobs overseas, it will have done nothing to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That is not effective action on climate change, that is an irresponsible act of economic self-harm.
LEON BYNER: Okay. Simon, for those people who say ‘we don’t want this’, and they’re pretty much two thirds according to all the polling recently, what can people do?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well people, Leon, should get out there and make their voices heard. Get on the phone to their Labor MPs. Go and visit their Labor MPs’ offices, turn up to their shopping centre visits if they’re game to do them. Make sure that this Government feels all the pressure in the world. We are of course running visits to numerous businesses today, we’re also running a community forum this afternoon and if people would like to attend that at 3 o’clock in Adelaide…
LEON BYNER: Whereabouts is that?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: It’s at the Arkaba but give my office a buzz 8354 1644 and we’ll happily make sure we can fit as many people [as] we can in the room there and let people have their say on this carbon tax because I know people are angry, justifiably so. In the end, their costs will go up but emissions won’t go down.
LEON BYNER: Peter at West Lakes, good morning.
CALLER, PETER: Yeah, good morning, Leon and gentlemen. With this proposed purchase of the coal company by an American company, with the purchase of that are they exempt from the mining tax and also are they exempt, because they’re an international company, from our greenhouse gas tax? The reason why I ask… because, if they are, they’ll have such a competitive nature to sell, to our own customers in China, the coal. Could you just clarify those two points for us, please?
LEON BYNER: Mathias.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, no business operating in Australia will be exempt from Australian law is the short answer but, if I can just make a point, the Prime Minister yesterday tried to use that purchase of that coal mine as a justification to suggest a carbon tax was not having a bad impact. Every asset is of course for sale or can be purchased at the right price in any market. In a bad market you get less money for it, in a good market you get more money for it, so yesterday’s announcement of course didn’t prove anything.
LEON BYNER: Ron of Valley View, good morning.
CALLER, RON: Good morning, Leon, and to your guests. My question’s fairly simple, Leon. With all this brouhaha going on with the pros and cons and the ‘anti’ thing, how much is this costing the taxpayer in airfares of all these people for and against this thing flying around Australia?
LEON BYNER: Well, Ron, I’ll tell you what whatever it is, it’s minuscule compared to the money that this green scheme alone, that’s ten billion dollars… That’s going to be borrowed money and venture capitalists and banks who are just as rich as the so-called coal industry and big companies, the mining industry that Bob Brown wants to tax they’re going to have a field day.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Ron, we are criss-crossing the country at the moment because we want to protect you from the impact of the carbon tax which will push up your cost of living, which will push up your cost of electricity, which we don’t think is in the national interest and which, of course, will not help reduce global greenhouse gases.
LEON BYNER: Alright, so Simon, 3 o’clock today. Where? At the Arkaba?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: 3 o’clock at the Arkaba. Give my office a buzz 8354 1644. There’s just one figure I’d like to leave with Ron. $9 billion is the starting rate of this tax. That’s what the State Bank debt in SA was when they tossed a Labor Government out here. That’s just the starting rate 9 billion and it goes up and up and up from there. That’s why it’s worth fighting against.