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The game’s up for Colbeck’s carbon con

Friday, July 6, 2012

Op-Ed by Tasmanian Labor Senator Anne Urquhart

The people of Tasmania’s North are rightly tired of Senator Richard Colbeck’s carbon con.

The truth is clearly inconvenient for the Liberal Senator, who spent this week seeking to exploit the fear and insecurity of honest workers and businesses in our region.

It was sickening to watch.

We’ve heard all sorts of nonsense from the Liberal/National Noalition over the last 18 months.

Whyalla was going to be wiped off the map.

Whole industries – like coal, aluminium and steel – were going to be destroyed.

Prices were going to skyrocket to unimaginable levels.

Of course, none of this happened last Sunday when the carbon price commenced.

Now it’s time for reality to replace ridiculousness – for fact to replace Liberal fiction.

The inconvenient truth for Senator Colbeck is that Australia’s economy continues to grow strongly, when most other countries are still struggling to recover from the Global Financial Crisis.

Millions of Australians are now receiving tax cuts and increased family payments, pensions and benefits.

And Australia is finally taking action to reduce our pollution and protect our precious environment.

Perhaps more inconvenient for Senator Colbeck is that the Liberal/National Noalition claim they share exactly the same target as the Government – to reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

The difference is that their absurd ‘Subsidies for Polluters’ plan would hit every Australian household with an extra $1300 tax bill each year.

And that’s after they claw back all the tax cuts and extra assistance Federal Labor is providing to households, families and business.

It would also require taking over all of Australia’s prime agricultural land to use for carbon sequestration, an area equivalent to Tasmania and Victoria combined.

How does Senator Colbeck explain to Tasmanian farmers that the Liberal/National ‘Subsidies for Polluters’ plan directly threatens their livelihoods?

But the truth that Senator Colbeck should be most ashamed of is that the Noalition voted against the Government’s tax cuts and increases to family payments and pensions.

They voted against tax relief for small businesses.

They voted against measures that help Australians with cost of living pressures and ensure millions of households are better off with the carbon price in place.

They voted against taking action to tackle dangerous climate change.

And the truths keep getting more inconvenient for Senator Colbeck.

Interest rates are lower under Labor than at any time under the previous Howard Government.

Labor has tripled the tax-free threshold to $18,200, freeing a million Australians from filling out a tax return and delivering lower personal tax rates to many more.

We’ve delivered historic increases to pensions and other government payments.

We’re investing record levels of funding in health and education, including Federal Labor’s $325 million emergency rescue package for Tasmania’s health system.

We’re rolling out the National Broadband Network, which will deliver high speed broadband and telephone services to all Tasmanian households.

The truth has clearly been inconvenient to Senator Colbeck for some time.

The Liberals have been distributing flyers to households in our region plastered with extraordinarily false claims about the carbon price – that it would drive petrol prices up by 11.3 per cent; groceries up 6.1 per cent; electricity up 10.7 per cent.

Each figure is incorrect.

There is no carbon price on the petrol households buy. Zero.

Treasury modelled has projected that the cost of food will go up less than $1 per week on average, less than 0.5 per cent, and Coles and Woolworths have indicated that they do not intend at this stage to increase their prices due to the carbon price impact.

Tasmania’s Economic Regulator recently approved an electricity price increase where the carbon price impact of 5.4 per cent was more than offset by a 6.12 per cent saving, thanks to the carbon price dividend Tasmania gets for producing clean renewable hydro electricity.

And thousands of Tasmanians are now benefiting from tax cuts, lump sum payments and pension and benefit increases thanks to the Government’s comprehensive Household Assistance Package.

Now it’s time for the reality to set in – for fact to replace Liberal fiction.

Liberal fiction is so fanciful that in a media release earlier this week, Senator Abetz stated that Australian Paper would be a Tasmanian entity liable to pay for their pollution this financial year.

I know Senator Abetz doesn’t get out of Hobart much but I would’ve hoped his North West colleagues would’ve helped him realise that the Australian Paper mills in Wesley Vale and Burnie closed down well over twelve months ago.

It’s just another blatant example of the Liberals’ trying to use the misfortune of working Tasmanians for their own political gain.

The game is up Senator Colbeck and the Liberals – it’s time you stopped peddling your carbon con job.


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