MS LAWDER(Brindabella) (4.25): I am very happy to rise today to support Mr Hanson's matter of public importance on the benefit to the ACT of the repeal of the carbon tax. As we have already heard, it is us here, the Liberals, who are and always have been focused on reducing the cost of living in the ACT. We are focused on ordinary Canberrans. We are focused on the cost of living that is increasing across the territory and causing grief for so many Canberra families. It seems no matter what we are talking about, the cost of it is rising, and it is rising quicker than wages can keep up with it.
More and more families are finding themselves under financial pressure, having difficulty heating their homes, paying their mortgages, sending their children to child care, and they are having difficulties paying their rates. We stand here today pleased that our federal counterparts have been successful in fulfilling their election mandate. They have been successful in their promise to the Australian people of scrapping the carbon tax. As much as their Labor counterparts wish to keep costs high, the government finally won the battle to decrease the cost of living for our community. We are relieved that this enormous tax on families has been removed and that prices will start to go down on some of our most vital bills.
There have been numerous headlines in the media over the past few weeks. They provide a nice outline of the benefits we will see in Canberra. ABC Online reported, "Electricity, gas prices reduced in Canberra after Canberra carbon tax repealed." On 19 July, theCanberra Timesreported, "Canberra to save more than most from carbon tax repeal." And yesterday theCanberra Timeshad another headline, "Average ACT energy bills drop by more than $300 a year after carbon price repealed." Mr Assistant Speaker, these headlines give a good picture of the benefits that we will receive from this repeal.
But along with the news that our electricity and gas bills will drop, we must remember when we have this debate that this affects much more than just our electricity and gas bills in terms of cost of living benefits for our territory, because the carbon tax put pressure on everything. Anything we consume that has been manufactured in Australia, stored in an Australian warehouse or sold in an Australian store was affected by upwards pressure from the carbon tax.
Even farmers were not immune from the carbon tax. Work undertaken by the Australian Farm Institute and mentioned by the National Farmers Federation notes that the average farm business, depending on the commodity produced, would incur additional costs of up to $10,000 per annum under the carbon tax. All of those costs are passed on to the average consumer. So removing this tax will mean saving money for consumers in the ACT. Removal of the carbon will mean saving money for ordinary Canberrans.
The repeal of the carbon tax is removing also an administrative burden on businesses who had to shoulder an almost $90 million a year cost to be compliant. Those opposite in the chamber like to compare the incremental charges and increases they impose with alarming regularity to being worth, they often say, the equivalent of just the cost of a cup of coffee a week. I can tell you that the saving of about $300 on energy bills alone will mean a saving of more than a cup of coffee a week to consumers. It will mean about 67 cups of coffee a year for the average household. It is nice to see that go back the other way for a change.
The day after the carbon tax was repealed, AGL published the following statement in newspapers right across Australia:
Now that legislation has been passed to remove the carbon tax, as an AGL residential or small business customer, you will benefit from reduced electricity and gas prices. That is our promise to you. We will write to you shortly to let you know the details of the price reductions you will get due to the removal of the carbon tax, and you can rest assured these will be backdated to 1 July 2014. You don't need to do anything. We'll make sure you receive all your savings.
Hopefully this has not come too late for some consumers. At the Tuggeranong Community Council just the other night I heard the story of an older lady, a pensioner from Kambah, who, after receiving her latest gas bill which had gone up 16 per cent, rang AGL and had her gas disconnected. This resident said that she would go to bed early during winter to keep warm because she simply could not afford her heating bills any longer.
The carbon tax disproportionately affected Canberrans because of the cold weather here. Our heating sucks up a lot of our energy costs. So the removal of the carbon tax will decrease these costs and help any residents who find themselves in a similar position to this lady from Kambah—residents who have to go to bed early just to keep warm because they cannot afford their energy bills. From what I hear, this especially applies to older Canberrans. So now with the repeal of the carbon tax that disproportionately affected Canberrans we will also get a larger benefit than some other states and territories.
I know that the cost of living affects residents of my electorate and the ACT as a whole. I am pleased to be a member of a party that is taking steps to relieve pressures on the cost of living for these families. I look forward to counting and seeing the benefits that will flow to the ACT. I look forward to the cost of living benefits that each and every family, industry, business, producer and organisation in our territory will receive as a result of this repeal of the carbon tax.