Question Time – Carbon Tax impact on electricity prices

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (14:09): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline the impact of the carbon tax on electricity prices for Queensland families and businesses? What are the impediments to removing the impact of the carbon tax?

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney—The Treasurer) (14:09): I thank the member for Hinkler for his second question to me this week. He recognises how important it is for the parliament to repeal the carbon tax legislation, to get rid of the carbon tax, and how important it is for Queensland families and Queensland small businesses, because the carbon tax increases the cost of everything. Particularly, it increases the cost of doing business in Queensland.

Over the last two years the average Queensland family has paid more than $300 in carbon tax on their electricity bills. With the carbon tax removal, the typical Queensland household would save $116 next year, and the average family of four would save $174. That would go up to $240 with the abolition of the carbon tax—on just their electricity bills next year. Of course, on average, Australian families would be $550 better off next year with the abolition of the carbon tax.

So why are the Labor Party blocking this? The Labor Party said they wanted to terminate the carbon tax. The legislation is now in the Senate, and the Labor Party are opposing their own policy to terminate the carbon tax. A typical Queensland small business would save $152 next year in electricity prices if we got rid of the carbon tax, if they did not have that burden on their business. And that is just electricity—of course, it flows through to every part of the business. For example, for operators on the Barrier Reef, it flows through to the cost of fuel for their boats. It flows through in tourism to the electricity bills in the hotels, and that then flows through to every hotel bill.

So I would just say to the Labor Party: if you care about economic growth, the best thing you could possibly do at this moment is support the repeal of the carbon tax, because getting rid of the carbon tax, according to Treasury’s own modelling, will improve economic growth. So, if you want to grow the economy, get rid of the carbon tax. If you want to help families, get rid of the carbon tax. If you want to help small businesses, get rid of the carbon tax. As we approach the release of the mid-year budget next week, surely the Labor Party will come to realise the best thing they could do for Australians is get rid of the carbon tax.

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Consideration of Senate Message – Debt Limit

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (17:24): In response, I would like to speak about the fact that it is Labor’s debt, and I would like to discuss where it came from. It is very clear to me that the money has already been spent. This is the reason the debt cap needs to be increased and, as the amendment has come back, to be deleted—to have no debt ceiling. Quite simply, the money was spent on things like school halls. I have been to many locations, up to 100, where the school hall was replicated side-by-side with one which they already had. When I said, ‘Why do you have a second school hall exactly the same as the other one?’ they said, ‘We were told we had to spend the money; we didn’t have a choice.’ That is not the way we do business on this side of the House and it is certainly the way business should not be done, but I will give them some credit. In areas like Tara, Miles and St George, where there was absolutely nothing, where there was no local community facility, there was some benefit. But in the many hundreds of coastal locations there were literally thousands of replications, whether they be libraries or other BER projects. The very first school project I went to I said to the construction company, ‘Are you sure this cost $2 million?’ They said, ‘Absolutely: design and construct project,’ I said, ‘How many do you have?’ They said, ‘Ten,’ I said, ‘What do you have to do?’ They said, ‘Same again.’ I asked, ‘What about the design component?’ They answered, ‘That’s fine; we covered that in the original quotation, no problems at all.’ It cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just because somebody sends your credit card in the mail, that does not mean you necessarily have to fill it. Just because we have an option to use the money, that does not mean that we are going to spend it. We are not the United States. This is Australia, and this is the Australian parliament.

I sat in this place in recent weeks as a new member of the House. I continue to hear from those opposite how they represent the union movement. I am more interested to hear what it is that they intend to do for their electorates. Over and over they say that they represent the unions; that they represent the workers. I find it absolutely outrageous that they would indicate to those on this side of the House that they do not fairly represent all people because I am a worker. That is exactly where I come from. I hold a trade qualification. I work on a farm. I also have a degree in engineering. I represent people equally. That is why we are here and that is why I am on this side of the House and sit with the Nationals—because the Nationals are for regional Australia. That is what we are about.

I would like to talk briefly about a gentleman called Craig van Rooyen, who is an immigrant to this country. He came through with the correct process. It took years to arrive and they work hard. They have a lychee farm in my electorate of Hinkler. They were the people who broke the story on backpacker cheques. You may recall a story in The Australian during the election campaign. Mr van Rooyen came to me and said, ‘How is it possible that I have a cheque for a backpacker who has not worked at this location for two years, yet they get a cheque for $900?’ That is an absolute waste, yet it continues.

The house insulation scheme: as an electrician I think it was criminal. People lost their lives because of that project. They should be very careful about what it is that they put forward because it was clearly poorly-planned. There was evidence provided to people in this place, and they knew that over and over people with no training were put at risk in areas where they should not have been—and some lost their lives. It is time that people on this side of the House recognise that those opposite are not interested in what we do for Australia. What we do here is in the best interests of all people in our electorates—not just union members, not just workers but all people in the electorate. I look forward to the process where this legislation goes through the Senate and we can get on with the business of running this country.



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Question Time – $900 stimulus cheques

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (14:40): My question is to the Treasurer. Is he aware that fruit and vegetable growers in Hinkler are continuing to receive $900 stimulus cheques for backpackers they employed years ago, who are no longer even in the country? What action is the government taking to end the waste and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money?

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney—The Treasurer) (14:41): I know the member for Hinkler was not around when they were handing out $900 cheques, but they are still handing out $900 cheques. Five years after the stimulus was called for, nearly nine million $900 cheques went out—and they are still going out. We are going to stop them. What a waste of money. It was the member for Lilley who was the architect of that.

Mr Perrett interjecting—

Ms Rishworth interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Moreton! The member for Kingston is warned.

Mr HOCKEY: He must be rather proud of that. I picked up on the weekend, in a report from his favoured journalist—

Mr Champion interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Wakefield will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Wakefield then left the chamber.

Mr HOCKEY: I picked up on the weekend that the member for Lilley is now writing a book. He said: ‘Mr Swan, who remains in the parliament,’—could have fooled me—’has signed a book deal with publisher Allen & Unwin with a working title Australian Treasurer. Let go, Wayne, let go!

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: under standing order 104(a), there is no way this is directly relevant to the question.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer will address himself to the question as asked.

Mr HOCKEY: The architect of the $900 cheques, the member for Lilley, sent 16,000 cheques to stimulate dead people. He sent 27,000 $900 cheques to people overseas, to stimulate the Australian economy. That should be a breakout in the chapter on stimulus.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: I understand that you asked the Treasurer to return to the question, and he has not changed tack at all.

The SPEAKER: He certainly is answering the question. He was asked about $900 cheques and he is answering that question.

Mr HOCKEY: I was asked about the waste. I refer to an article from The Age, by Tony Wright. He said that talk-back callers proved a little more reckless with the money:

Someone called Denise said she’d spend the cash on a new tattoo to match the wolverine job she has on one foot.

This was from $900 cheque at work. I think that, in the book, there have to be pictures; it cannot be just a lift-out about Denise, whom the member for Lilley should track down—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Moreton!

Mr HOCKEY: We need to have pictures—

An opposition member interjecting—

Mr HOCKEY: The Tweed Daily News—

Mr Danby: What a stupid example! How many Australians did that?

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Melbourne Ports will desist.

Mr HOCKEY: I would refer him to the pictorial. You have to have pictures in a book, and I am sure there will be plenty in that book. I would ask him to take a photo of this:

Mr Cullen, who took over Number 33—formerly the Sanctum—at the start of the year, even ran cheeky newspaper advertisements about the stimulus package, encouraging people to “Get more bang for your buck”.

He said the economic downturn had certainly taken its toll on the sex industry.

“It is very quiet at the moment,” Mr Cullen said.

Thank God for the $900 cheques!

“The stimulus package helped a bit. Around the time the money started to come in business picked up.”

The problem is that it is taxpayers’ money that went out: $900 cheques—borrowed money from the next generation—that the member for Lilley and the Labor Party just splashed around without regard. It is only the coalition that is going to stop the waste. It is only the coalition that is going to stop the mismanagement. What a disgrace from Labor.

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Buying locally at Christmas starts a cycle that benefits everyone!

Opinion piece submitted to local media on December 6, 2013

Everyone does their Christmas shopping differently! 

Some people layby their gifts in October and pay them off gradually.

Others even plan a year ahead and line up for hours to get the best deal at the Boxing Day sales.

If you’re anything like me, you usually leave it until the last minute!

With the growing popularity of online shopping, our local small businesses are being forced to compete with major firms in national and global markets.

Research shows small businesses with a website or social media platform were last year up to 50 per cent more likely to have an increase in annual revenue.

However, many businesses do not have the budget, resources or technological know-how to establish an online presence. 

Their viability is reliant on our support!

What some of you may not realise, is that small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of regional Australia.

They are the engine room of our economy and, in many cases, the social glue that holds our communities together.

They employ about 50 per cent of all Australians working in the private sector.

In Queensland, small businesses account for 96 per cent of all businesses in the State.

Campaigns and initiatives like Shop Small, Buy Locally and Australian Made have been enormously successful in promoting the invaluable role these businesses play in our communities.

Buying locally starts a cycle that benefits everyone in the Hinkler electorate!  

By buying locally we are giving our businesses the confidence they need to strengthen and expand their operations, which means more jobs!

I will be shopping locally wherever possible this festive season and I encourage you all to do the same!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year! 

Keith Pitt MP, Federal Member for Hinkler.



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90 Second Statement – Digital Hospital

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (13:46): Last week I toured the site of Australia’s first fully-integrated digital hospital. On track for completion in August next year, St Stephen’s Hospital will attract new medical specialists to the Hinkler electorate and take pressure off the Hervey Bay public hospital. It will mean fewer patients will have to travel to the big cities to receive treatment. Cokram Construction project manager, Ian Coulburn, showed me around the impressive site, where approximately 65 per cent of the workers are local. Leanne Tones from Uniting Care Health is very proud of the 96-bed facility, and rightly so.

All medical records, X-ray and pathology results will be accessible to doctors and nurses anywhere in the hospital, whether at the bedside or at the nurses station. Medical devices such as blood pressure pumps will also be integrated. The technology will improve efficiency and enhance the experience of patients and clinicians. The hospital will include renal and oncology services. On that note, I welcome the health minister’s decision earlier this week to list medicine for the treatment of certain types of cancer on the PBS. Also, the genetic tests for non-small cell lung cancer will be listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

While Bundaberg has long had a private hospital, the lack of a private hospital in Hervey Bay prior to 2006 was a limiting factor in both retaining and attracting professionals to the southern end of my electorate. Championed by local state and federal MPs,Ted Sorensen and Paul Neville, the $87.5 million project will have $47 million from the Health and Hospitals Fund by the time it is complete. I look forward to working with Uniting Care Health to make Hervey Bay one of the country’s leading health hubs.

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Free Trade Agreement a windfall for Hinkler

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has welcomed the successful negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Australian and Korean Governments, which will benefit the region’s sugar, horticulture and seafood exporters.

Mr Pitt said the Coalition Government this week reached agreement with the Republic of Korea.

The Agreement will be signed and come into operation following domestic approval process in Australia and Korea.

“Korea is already Australia’s biggest export market for sugar,” Mr Pitt said.

“Under the FTA, tariffs will be immediately eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports like sugar, mangoes and macadamias.

“Agricultural exports to Korea will be 73 per cent higher in 2030 than they otherwise would have been in the absence of this FTA.

“This Agreement shows the Coalition is committed to creating opportunities in regional communities and recognises agriculture as one of Australia’s economic strengths.

“The Coalition is making it easier, not harder, to do business in Australia.

“Reducing the cost of doing business by fostering strong relationships with our major trading partners will give businesses the confidence they need to create jobs.

“Today’s announcement is a significant windfall for our region.”

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814



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Hinkler MP takes action to create jobs

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt is getting on with the job of creating opportunities for the people of his electorate.

Mr Pitt today met with Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker to discuss the challenges confronting the region.

Mr Pitt said the Coalition Government was on track to deliver its election commitments to help more Australians find and keep a job.

“We’ve committed to provide financial incentives to employers and employees to get young people and seniors into the workforce.

“Hinkler employers will receive up to $3250 when they hire a job seeker aged 50+.

“Hinkler residents aged between 18 to 30 will receive $2500 if they hold a job for a continuous period of 12 months, and a further bonus of $4000 when they attain 24 months of service.”

Mr Pitt said he looked forward to working with Mr Hartsuyker and the rest of the Ministerial team to create real opportunities for training and employment in the Hinkler electorate.  

“Our policies will help give businesses the confidence they need to employ.”

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Pitt delivers on his election commitments

The Coalition is delivering on the election commitments it made to the people of Hinkler, through the newly established Community Development Grants Programme.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today announced $850,000 for three projects across the electorate.

“Bundaberg Surf Lifesaving will receive $400,000 to go towards its club extension,” Mr Pitt said.

“Hervey Bay Hockey will receive $350,000 for its turf pitch and a further $100,000 will go to the Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club for its tower.”

Mr Pitt said the Community Development Grants Programme was part of the regional community funding package committed to by the Coalition during the 2013 election.

“Up to $342 million will be spent on about 300 community projects across Australia, and I am delighted Hinkler has been able to secure funding for three projects,” he said.

“The Community Development Grants Programme will support infrastructure that has social and economic benefits for regional communities.”

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Hinkler MP congratulates Bundaberg Distilling Co on 125 years

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the anniversary marked not only a momentous occasion for the company, but also for the Hinkler electorate and him personally.  

“I, like many other locals, worked with Bundaberg Sugar and the Distillery as an apprentice,” he said.

“Bundaberg Rum was born from the ingenuity of a consortium of Bundaberg sugar millers, who found a way to utilise their excess molasses.

“Today, the distillery employs more than 50 people and is one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations.

“I would like to thank Bundaberg Distilling Co for their ongoing support of the local community, particularly during recent natural disasters, and I congratulate them on reaching 125 years.”

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Bundaberg has NOT been excluded from the NBN

Statement from Keith Pitt in response to the media release issued by Bundaberg Regional Council on 21 November, 2013. 

“Firstly, let me make it perfectly clear: the Abbott Government is committed to completing construction of the National Broadband Network and ensuring that all Australians have access to very fast broadband sooner, at less expense to taxpayers and more affordably for consumers. 

“We expect the NBN to be complete by the end of 2019, with at least 80 per cent of Australian households benefiting from a download rate of between 50 and 100 megabits per second.

“During a recent meeting with Council, I made it abundantly clear the maps had been amended to more accurately reflect the true progress of the rollout.

“Previous maps misleadingly described areas as being ‘under construction’ when in many cases they were, in fact, still in the stakeholder engagement phase, for example.

“The maps were devised by a Labor Government, desperate to obscure the slow progress of the roll out.

“Labor’s maps and their use of terms like ‘construction commenced’ have led to widespread confusion.   

“The Coalition made the decision to amend the maps to ensure members of the public are properly informed about the actual progress of the NBN.

“A strategic review of NBN Co is currently underway, and will be delivered to the Minister for Communications next month.”


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