Question Time – Carbon Price

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable member for Pitt—sorry, for Hinkler. I beg your pardon for calling you by your surname instead of your seat.

Mr PITT  (Hinkler) (14:40): That is quite all right, if that is the worst thing that happens today. My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister update the House on savings to Hinkler householders and businesses thanks to the repeal of the carbon tax?

Mr HUNT  (Flinders—Minister for the Environment) (14:41): I want to thank the member for Hinkler. He represents 96,000 constituents who are benefiting from the repeal of the carbon tax—at least four of whom are in the gallery today with his wife and children. He represents not just the constituents that benefit but also one of Australia’s finest food-processing areas—businesses such as Hervey Bay Scallops and Avocado Fresh. We also have Ocean King Prawn.

Mr Joyce:  Bundaberg Rum!

Mr HUNT:  And, of course, Bundaberg rum, so the Minister for Agriculture tells me. It is very interesting that all of these businesses stood to benefit in their food-processing capabilities by the removal of the carbon tax. We were told on 17 July by none other than the Leader of the Opposition—who was asked whether or not the carbon tax, when it was repealed, would lead to lower prices—that:

Do Australians really believe they’re going to see back all the money which Tony Abbott alleged the carbon price cost them?

Well, I am sorry to say to the Leader of the Opposition that the price reductions are flowing through. In the member for Hinkler’s own electorate, the latest figures are these for electricity price savings: Simply Energy is delivering a nine per cent reduction to Hinkler residents; Power Direct customers in Hinkler are receiving a 9.2 per cent reduction; Ergon Energy customers are receiving a 9.4 per cent reduction. And, for small business owners, EnergyAustralia customers are receiving a 9.1 per cent reduction. But I also have—

Mr Thistlethwaite interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Kingsford Smith has been warned.

Mr HUNT:  the EnergyAustralia estimates for medium and large businesses, because there are large food-processing businesses in his electorate. If you are, for example, an IGA of a reasonable size, you will save about $11,000 on your electricity costs. If, however, you have large coolrooms, just on your electricity cost—because you are a major food-processing business—it will be somewhere between $21,000 and $43,000. So there are real savings for the businesses in Hinkler which can compete, which can perform and which can employ more people.

But these same businesses also have refrigerant costs, and some of the refrigerant costs which are flowing through are very, very significant indeed. For a convenience store operator, the refrigerant savings are $3,000. For a medium-sized supermarket coolroom, $1,000. He has one of the largest fishing fleets in Australia, and, for a fishing vessel operator, we are looking at a carbon tax saving of $16½ thousand a year. On top of that, if you have a beer cooling system, it is $3½ thousand a year. So what we see are real savings—contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition says. And he wants to take them away.


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