Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) (4.09 pm)-It has been said before, but I think it bears repeating, that this government formed office on the back of a lie. Julia Gillard put her hand on her heart and declared-and I quote, again: ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.’ That was on Channel 10 on 16 August 2010. I repeat this again: ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.’ That was Prime Minister Julia Gillard. We have heard this falsehood repeated time and again. On this side of the chamber we have spoken of it often. It has been canvassed in the media over and over again. In fact, it has been heard so often that the sheer audacity of the statement is almost starting to lose its impact. That is why I think it is well worth spending a moment on that absolute, complete and utter falsehood again. This government slid into office on the back of a lie.
But this is not the first time. Cast your mind backto the 2007 election. You might remember that Labor was going to ‘ease the squeeze’, that Labor’s greatest concern in that election campaign was for working families and the cost-of-living pressures that they faced. Oh how the Australian Labor Party felt and shared the pain of Australian households, how they felt the pain of working families! Labor was so keen to demonstrate that care, that concern, that it came up with a couple of policies. One was GroceryWatch, which has now gone into infamy. The other was Fuelwatch, which has also faded into political history. The theory was that by watching something-by watching the price of groceries-those prices would magically fall.
By setting up a website, grocery prices would tumble. There was the parallel policy that by watching petrol prices they would fall and that by setting up a website and a petrol commissioner, again, they would
Labor are not completely without some capacity. They knew that these measures would never work. As we know, GroceryWatch was abandoned. The website was a debacle. It was originally outsourced to Choice, I think, and then the whole thing fell over. Fuelwatch, too, was abolished. There may well still be a petrol commissioner. I do not know; I lost track. He may still be there, but who cares? It does not really matter. It was
never going to achieve anything. It was all a con and a sham. The truth is that in 2007 Labor did not care about cost-of-living pressures. Labor never intended to do anything about cost-of-living pressures. They merely adopted a posture of care. They had a furrowed brow and a tilted head, but it meant nothing.
The reason I am harking back to 2007 is to make evident that Labor has form when it comes to cost-of-living issues. They fib, they pose and they posture.
They talk a good game; you have to give them that. They talk a very good game, but it does not result in anything. In 2007, Labor’s sins were sins of omission. Labor broke a promise-the promise to do something to help. They failed to do what they said it would do.
In 2010 Labor’s sins are ones of commission, the promise broken not to do something. They promised that they would not introduce a carbon tax. Their
broken promise is that they did something which they said they would not do. And not only did Prime Minister Gillard commit on 16 August 2010 not to
introduce a carbon tax, she did so again on 20 August 2010, on the front page of the Australian newspaper. But this was not just any edition of the Australian newspaper, this was not just any day; this was the day before the election, the day when Australians really focus on the policies of each party. It was the front page, stop the presses: ‘I rule out a carbon tax.’ No qualification, no equivocation, no hesitation, no subclauses; it was a pure, straight, simple statement ‘I rule out a carbon tax’.
So the party that was elected in 2007 promising to fix grocery prices and petrol prices, the party that formed government in 2010 on a promise to not introduce a carbon tax, has a policy that will increase the cost of living for Australian families, that will put pressure on Australian families, that will push up electricity bills by an extra $300 per year in the first year of operation of a carbon tax. And that is on top of what prices will already naturally increase by. Petrol is to rise by 6.5c a litre, again in just the first year of operation of the carbon tax. That is on top of whatever petrol
may already be going to rise by. Gas prices will rise by 10 per cent in the first year as well, and groceries will rise. Groceries-that great concern of 2007, that great concern that prompted GROCERYwatch: the carbon tax is going to increase grocery prices. Petrol, that great concern that prompted Fuelwatch in 2007: the government’s policy is going to see petrol prices increase. Manufactured goods will rise. It is all bad news for Australian families.
The response of the government, the Australian Labor Party, will be as always that this side of the chamber are climate change deniers, that this side of the chamber are rednecks. The truth is that on this side of the chamber we do acknowledge that man does make a contribution to global warming. This opposition does have a policy to address that; a very practical policy.We are going to set up a $10.5 billion fund to cover the period between now and 2020 and we are going to use the money to buy back greenhouse emissions to meet the target that both sides of the chamber share of reducing emissions by five per cent by 2020. It bears repeating, because I think this is important to know, that these incentives will cut emissions through things such as capturing carbon in soil, planting trees,
cleaning up coal-fired power stations, cleaning up gases from coalmines and making buildings more energy-efficient. We have a plan.
The debate here is about good policy, what constitutes good policy, what constitutes an appropriate response, what constitutes an effective response, what constitutes a response that will not increase the cost of living for Australian families. That is the debate here; it is one of policy. It does not matter how much those on the other side seek to shift the
debate about who might be out the front of Parliament House today, whether they are the sorts of people that the Australian Labor Party might keep company with on a Sunday morning over breakfast. That is not actually the issue. The people out there in front of Parliament House are entitled to their views. They are Australian citizens, they are entitled the put their view-
Senator Cameron-Pauline Hanson and Tony Abbott.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Trood)-Order! Senator Cameron, those sorts of interventions are unhelpful. I see your name on the list. You can make your contribution later on.
Senator FIFIELD-A couple of weekends back I was in Werribee in front of Prime Minister Gillard’s electorate office with about 400 Australians who were rightly angry at the breach of promise by this Prime Minister, who were rightly concerned about the increasing cost of living pressures-400 real, regular, everyday Australians who turned up to Werribee in front of Julia Gillard’s electorate office on a long weekend in Melbourne on a sunny day, and they deserve to have their view heard. Their anger is justified. Their anger is righteous. This government stands condemned for its policy to hit Australian families.