GREG HUNT: Two days into the job and Kevin Rudd is trying to con the Australian people. Mr Rudd thinks that changing the name of the carbon tax will somehow satisfy the concerns of the Australian people. This election will be a choice. Under the Coalition, there really will be no carbon tax. Under Kevin Rudd, there will be a carbon tax but now he wants to change the name. Mr Rudd has learnt nothing from his first term as Prime Minister. He’s still leading a fantasy government where it’s all promise and no delivery. Now he’s trying to pretend that he’s going to scrap the carbon tax. He’s not. He’s just going to rename it. Treasury’s modelling says that the tax goes up to $38, even under a floating price, by 2019. It then goes on to $350 over the coming decades, so what we have here is a change of name but on Monday the carbon tax still goes up under Kevin Rudd; a change of name but on Tuesday you’ll still be paying higher electricity and gas prices. The best thing to do is to end the chaos and end the division, because just today we’ve seen the new Treasurer reconfirm that they are completely committed to a carbon price and therefore all they’re doing is changing the name, and to take this to the Australian people at the earliest possible date for an election. Simon?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: On Monday, the carbon tax will go up yet again under Kevin Rudd’s Prime Ministership. Next year, Australia’s trucking industry will face a carbon tax under Kevin Rudd’s Prime Ministership. Despite what Kevin Rudd may or may not be contemplating about tweaking the carbon tax for one or two years, it will still be a carbon tax and in 2020 it will be more than 150 per cent of the rate of today’s carbon tax, based on Treasury modelling, so Australians will still end up paying a higher carbon tax into the future, based on the Government’s own budget and its own modelling, and that will only continue to go up and up. The choice in this election is very clear. It’s between having a carbon tax or not having a carbon tax. The Coalition is the only party going into this election offering the Australian people the choice of not having a carbon tax and for Kevin Rudd to pretend otherwise is just a giant con job.
JOURNALIST: If a transition is made before 2015 to a floating price, then it’s not effectively a tax, is it? It’s an emissions trading scheme.
GREG HUNT: No, it’s a carbon tax no matter what you do. The only question is whether it’s a fixed price or a floating price. It’s a carbon tax, it always has been a carbon tax and it always will be a carbon tax and playing games with the name I think is trying to take the Australian people for granted and the Australian people are smart – they can see through a con each day and every day.
JOURNALIST: But is this just an admission that you’re worried that if Kevin Rudd announces there will not be a carbon tax and it will go straight to an ETS, that it will blunt your argument on cost-of-living issues?
GREG HUNT: Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s an admission by Kevin Rudd that he knows that the carbon tax is deeply unpopular and he also knows that he’s got to pretend to do something. The difference between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd is very simple – Tony Abbott does things; Kevin Rudd pretends to do things.
JOURNALIST: Does it neuter your attack that Australia is out of step with the rest of the world?
GREG HUNT: Well, no. What we’ve just seen is that the United States this week announced a major climate plan and in a 20-page climate plan there was no mention of a carbon tax, no mention of an emissions trading scheme and no mention of a cap-and-trade scheme. The United States has just headed down the path of doing practical direct things such as cleaning up power stations, involving themselves in energy efficiency and protecting the great forests.
JOURNALIST: But does your argument become more difficult, given that the Coalition has previously accepted an ETS?
GREG HUNT: Look, our approach is very clear: practical action to reduce emissions, without a carbon tax. This is a carbon tax that Mr Rudd’s game, that he can change the name but keep the tax, is going to be seen through by all Australians and the cat was let out of the bag by the Treasurer last night and this morning – same tax, same legislation, different name.
JOURNALIST: The Business Council of Australia, the Energy Supply Association, the Australian Industry Group all want an emissions trading scheme. Are you saying they’re wrong as well?
GREG HUNT: What they want is they want lower costs. Well, we’ll reduce the costs to zero.
JOURNALIST: But, under the Direct Action policy, your cost on carbon’s around $10 to $12 and it’s being paid for by the taxpayer, whereas under an emissions trading scheme it will be around $5 or $6. Do you think that consumers will seriously wear that?
GREG HUNT: No, I think that you’ll find that what happens under us is that there’s no carbon tax and it is certainly being paid for by consumers under Kevin Rudd – it’s an electricity tax and it’s a gas tax and that tax goes up on Monday; it doesn’t go down.
JOURNALIST: But, if there is a faster transition to a floating price, the price could drop by four-fifths. It could go down somewhere to $5 or so. Do you concede that that will benefit Australians in the community who are concerned with cost-of-living pressures?
GREG HUNT: Well, there’s one guarantee as to how you can reduce cost of living and that’s to drop the tax completely. Don’t change the name. Drop the tax. That’s the only thing that can guarantee reductions in cost of living and that’s what we’ll do. The best thing to do is to end the uncertainty and to end the agony for the Australian people who are desperate to put an end to this chaos in Canberra and have a vote so as they can determine the Prime Minister; they can also determine whether or not they have a permanent increase in electricity, gas and carbon tax.