14 July 2014
Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (11:37): I rise to speak in support of this motion and to commend the member for Ryan for her initiative on this important policy matter.
There is no single issue that has more clearly represented the policy divide between this government and those opposite than the carbon tax. While occupying the Treasury benches, the Labor Party oscillated from the position that ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead’ to advocacy for a carbon tax, then to a election commitment that they will not continue to support the carbon tax, and then to their current position to block this government’s clearly earned mandate. In contrast, the coalition has been steadfast in its position. We do not support the carbon tax. We do not believe that the carbon tax assists the global environment, and we certainly oppose the huge cost impost the carbon tax places on small businesses and consumers throughout our nation. Over the past three years, some critics have chastised our party for never straying from our core policy messages. Across the country, a vote for the coalition became synonymous with a vote to stop the boats, to get our economy back on track and to scrap the carbon tax. The boats have stopped and the most recent budget has taken the tough decisions that those opposite lacked the guts—the intestinal fortitude—to make in order to fix the economy. At last year’s election, the Australian people gave the coalition a clear mandate to get rid of this carbon tax; yet, those opposite continue to ignore the will of the people.
The member for Ryan’s motion refers specifically to the impact that the carbon tax has on the backbone of our nation’s economy: small business. It is an indisputable fact that the abolition of the carbon tax will put spending power back into consumers’ pockets and will also take cost pressures off those businesses and help with both their viability and their capacity to compete, and it will build confidence and optimism on the way through.
In my home state, a survey by the NSW Business Chamber highlighted the decline in business confidence under the previous government due to the carbon tax and excessive red tape. They found that:
Businesses indicated that the most significant cost pressure that they face is increases in electricity prices as a result of the introduction of the Carbon tax…
The very active and effective Minister for Small Business has repeatedly stated that:
…the carbon tax is clearly having a negative effect on small businesses at a time when they are dealing with low consumer confidence…Every hairdresser, restaurant, newsagency, pie shop, dry cleaner and toy shop in the country is feeling the pain of increasing red-tape and higher electricity and gas prices due to the carbon tax.
Under Minister Billson’s leadership, support for small business is at the centre of the coalition’s policy direction to build a strong and a prosperous economy.
In my electorate of Bennelong, we are fortunate to boast over 20 local shopping villages, with whom I work hard to support through my Bennelong Village Businesses Campaign. Through this work I repeatedly hear tales of struggles to make ends meet, with the carbon tax as public enemy No.1. Previously, in this place, I spoke of Lyn Bridle, the director of the Epping Floral Centre, who expressed her concerns at the extra impost on her refrigeration bill, though her customers are unwilling to pay more for their flowers. Even love has a cost limit. Often, I visit Peter Roan Seafood at Top Ryde City. Once, I even took the Prime Minister there to show off their shop and the seafood products they provide to the local community—in which I proudly work and live. They have a $40,000 annual electricity bill due to their refrigeration needs and the need to compete against their shopfront neighbour—one of big two supermarket chains. I have often spoken with Peter Roan about the all-encompassing nature of this tax. From the fishermen to the truck driver, to the wholesaler, to the retailer, and to the cleaner, the carbon tax hits and hurts every step of the way.
The case against the carbon tax should not be a controversial one. This tax facilitates zero benefit to the environment; yet, it delivers a world of financial pain to everyday Australians and to every Australian. On behalf of the hundreds of small business owners across the Bennelong electorate, I say to those opposite, ‘Get out of the way and let this government exercise the mandate we were given to axe this tax.’