The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Topics: Carbon tax repeal, electricity prices
Transcript: Doorstop, Canberra
6 November 2013
GREG HUNT: It's time for Mr Shorten to listen to the Australian people.
Australians voted for a change of government and they voted to repeal the carbon tax. No more delays, no more excuses, no more reasons for standing in the way of repealing the carbon tax.
When Mr Rudd said on 16 July that he was going to terminate the carbon tax he said it would be a $380 benefit to Australian families but for 12 months only. We know that if you repeal the carbon tax in full it will be a $550 benefit next year for Australian families.
Those details are clear- the same source, the same modelling as Mr Rudd's claims.
The difference is we will terminate the carbon tax. We will repeal the carbon tax and we will fulfil our election pledge.
The question for Mr Shorten is will he vote for higher electricity prices or lower electricity prices.
REPORTER: Do you guarantee that benefit for households, given that we're hearing from the AIG some doubts over that there would be much of a price reduction once the carbon tax is repealed?
GREG HUNT: Well, I think there are two different things here.
Firstly, there's the direct cost to households. The Treasury modelling was very clear: a nine per cent decrease in electricity prices compared with what they would be under a carbon tax.
It's the same claim that Mr Rudd made but only for one year and only for a partial reduction in the carbon tax. So the ALP has already acknowledged that the carbon tax is hurting Australian families with higher electricity prices.
The second point is that for business they are also being hit. We've always said that this was a double whammy. Households get hit directly by higher electricity and gas prices to the total effect across cost of living of $550 and businesses get hit directly where they cannot pass on the costs if they're trade exposed.
The argument that we have made is that it's a double whammy because households are hit by the carbon tax, and businesses.
Then finally, as the ALP's own modelling always showed, in the end emissions go up not down domestically from 2010 to 2020 so it doesn't do the job.
REPORTER: Well then, your guarantee of a nine per cent electricity price cut and a seven per cent cut in gas prices, over what time is that?
GREG HUNT: Well, that's what will happen when the carbon tax is removed. This isn't a long phased issue. This is something which will begin as soon as the carbon tax price is removed.
It's an abolition of the impact of the carbon tax on electricity prices. It's not difficult to do. Once the carbon tax is removed electricity prices will be lower by the amount of the carbon tax. On average, for families, that's nine per cent.
In the case of many manufacturing businesses they've been hit with a 14.5 per cent increase because they come from a lower tariff base.
REPORTER: You say that the cut would begin immediately but the full nine per cent could that take months or years even?
GREG HUNT: No, we expect it to begin once the carbon tax repeal takes effect. No question.
There is a very strong ACCC provision which is giving them power to enforce reductions. Now when the ALP claimed that they had terminated the carbon tax but in reality they hadn't, they had no problem in claiming that electricity prices would be reduced by the reduction.
We will deliver the reduction in electricity prices by the amount of the carbon tax.
Only Bill Shorten stands between Australians and lower electricity prices.
REPORTER: So when would you deliver the nine per cent?
GREG HUNT: Well, the full cost of the carbon tax reduction is expected to come in as soon as the carbon tax is repealed.
Let me very clear here, there are two different effects and I think there's been some misunderstanding from some in the debate.
Firstly, households are charged a carbon tax through their electricity and gas bills. That will happen as soon as the carbon tax takes effect in terms of the repeal.
REPORTER: Sorry just one more, the energy industry...
GREG HUNT: No, I'll just finish the second point.
Then secondly - secondly - what is also happening to business is many businesses are trade exposed and they are suffering the double whammy of being hit with the tax but not being able to pass it on the effects. So both businesses and households will be better off without the carbon tax.
REPORTER: And the energy industry has said that the possibility of - in retrospective repeal the carbon tax, that creates risk and it wants to be discuss those challenges.
So it appears that they're prepared to keep paying after thirty June if it isn't repealed by then. Are you prepared to remove that clause from the Bill?
GREG HUNT: No, with great respect the repeal of the carbon tax, no matter when it is passed, will take effect from the first of July 2014.
Only Bill Shorten stands between Australians and lower electricity prices. We are working with business, we are working with the electricity sector, to make sure that as soon as that repeal comes into being, Australian families and Australian small businesses and Australian manufacturers are given that reduction in electricity prices.
REPORTER: But the energy industry has said that it will continue to be viable from 30 June but [inaudible] they will continue to pay.
GREG HUNT: Well, it's Bill Shorten who is blocking repeal of carbon tax and it's Bill Shorten who is blocking lower electricity prices. He should get on and do it now. No more excuses, no more delays, no more justification for a massive electricity tax.
Let's finish where we're started. The ALP only a few short months ago declared that they'd terminated the carbon tax because the price was too high. Well, the price is too high. Australians are paying higher electricity prices and higher gas prices than they need to.
Mr Rudd said it, Mr Bowen said it, Mr Butler said it; the entire ALP movement said it before the election.
Now, instead of terminating the carbon tax they have a plan for a carbon tax which would be 50 per cent higher than it currently is on their own modelling and only the ALP is standing between Australians and lower electricity prices.