Topics: Labor’s new electricity tax
Mr Hunt, good afternoon.
And good afternoon Tom. You were actually correct, Julia Gillard was replaced by Bill Shorten, but just with Kevin Rudd – he swapped the prime ministers around under his watch, so there you go.
Oh yes, because he's the numbers man in the Labor Party.
He sure is.
Now, what do you know of Labor's new carbon tax proposal?
Because I must admit – they say it's not a carbon tax it's something else – to me it looks and sounds like a carbon tax. What do you know about it?
Well it is a carbon tax. It's got all the features of a carbon tax, they just pretend it's not.
What does it do? It's designed, it's intended, it's constructed to drive up electricity prices. For your listeners this comes – it couldn't be at a worse time, at the worst possible time.
If you have businesses such as Arrium that are vulnerable, if you have small businesses, if you have families who are struggling, driving up their electricity prices is the worst possible thing you can do at the worst possible time, and at the end of the day it's an electricity tax and a gas tax.
Well Labor said this morning in a rather confused way on Neil Mitchell's program that it was not a tax and it would not do anything to electricity prices, which I guess beggars the question what is it supposed to do then?
Well this is the sort of confusion at the heart of it – that they say it's not going to hurt a bit, close your eyes, you won't feel a thing, but miraculously will make these incredible changes on emissions.
The only way that a tax like this works is if you drive electricity prices north as far as you possibly can.
What did the modelling say when Labor did it on Labor's target range last time they were in Government – and it was Treasury that did it – a 78 per cent increase in wholesale electricity prices.
I mean the point – it says here they're going to require big electricity generators to buy carbon offsets as of late this year.
Now, if they've got to buy those offsets presumably they'll seek to pass on the cost of them to consumers, will they not?
Of course they will.
And that's the whole design, intent, purpose of an electricity tax, to make people pay more so as they use less.
That's the intention.
And electricity of course is such an essential service for businesses, it means their ability to compete is affected.
We saw that electricity went up last time they had a carbon tax, it went up by 10 per cent.
The full amount came off – contrary to many of the statements of the ALP – when we came in.
The ACCC said all of the electricity impact of the carbon tax was removed, and the ACCC enforced that under law. Now…
Okay, so if we were to compare – because I mean I'm looking for policy differences between Labor and your party, the Coalition – so it's fair to say that on negative gearing there's a clear policy difference, Prime Minister and the Treasurer Scott Morrison have said under a Liberal Government there'll be no changes to the current negative gearing arrangements, under a Labor Government there will.
Labor's now saying well we plan to reintroduce a type of carbon tax. Can we assume that if you're still the Environment Minister in 2.5 months' time there will be no Liberal equivalent?
No, there won't be. And there's a fabulous statement in Labor's document, where it's a moment of blinding honesty, and I'll just read it to you.
“Only Labor will build an emissions trading scheme” – and they're right. And then there's only Labor will have an electricity tax.
And so the things you outline, they've got a housing tax, and they've got an electricity tax – and both of those things affect not just individuals, but they affect their job prospects, they affect the ability of the economy to continue at a time when there's a fragile international environment.
So we're doing well as a country compared with other countries, but in such a vulnerable environment it's the worst possible thing you can do for jobs, and it's the worst possible thing you can do for families who struggle, for pensioners who struggle, for small businesses that struggle.
Very quickly Mr Hunt, you are a member of Federal Cabinet, you would have seen that the New Guinean Government have said that the Manus Island detention centre has to be closed, and they're asking Australia to remove the asylum seekers and put them somewhere else. Any idea where we should send them?
Look, I haven't had a discussion with Peter Dutton or the Prime Minister about it yet. They, I know, are dealing with the matter, and there are probably two points.
They will work in good faith with PNG as a sovereign nation, and similarly though, as a sovereign nation we will do everything to protect our borders.
And our policies have actually worked – the previous government's policies were a humanitarian disaster with 1200 lives lost at sea.
And I know that the PM and I know that Peter Dutton are absolutely committed to protecting lives at sea and we'll take tough measures to do that.
But at the end of the day, that saves lives.
Greg Hunt, thank you so much for your time.