STEVE GEORGANAS (Member for Hindmarsh) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. What will be the impact of the carbon price on transport infrastructure in regional communities such as Whyalla in my State, especially in aviation? How does this compare with some of the impacts that have been forecast?
ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Hindmarsh for his question and for his honesty when it comes to the reality of dealing with Climate Change and meeting the challenge of putting a price on carbon.
We saw just a couple of weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott], once again, talking down a business in the regional aviation industry, preaching doom and gloom and disaster when it came to the impact of the Carbon Price. He’s got form on this.
I am asked specifically about Whyalla. On 27 April last year the Leader of the Opposition said Whyalla will be “wiped off the map”. He went on to say: “Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland if this carbon tax goes ahead”. It was like a scene from Mad Max. Special Minister of State Gary Gray will be over in Whyalla. He’s a local. He will be going to visit his mum on 30 June to check that everything is still okay after 1 July.
For a place to become a ghost town, people have to leave it. One of the ways you leave a town is on a plane. So, as Transport Minister, I thought I would check on what has been going on in Whyalla. I found an article in the Whyalla News dated 4 June. The Mayor of Whyalla Jim Pollock said: “We are processing something like 75,000 passengers a year”.
So I asked my Department how the numbers compare. I found out there were 68,000 passengers in 2011 and 64,000 in 2010. The year before (2009) there was 62,000. It is growing.
The Opposition might say that’s all the people leaving town. But I checked, and as many people are going to Whyalla as are leaving Whyalla.
I also checked on what the local region was saying about Whyalla Airport. They are making representations to the Minister for Regional Development [Simon Crean] to expand the Airport. They want a new terminal. They want to fix the runway. There they are out in Whyalla promoting the growth of a town that the Leader of the Opposition said would be “wiped off the map”.
But now we see he is running from his over-the-top comments faster than he ran from the Parliament. He could not get out of the Parliament. He was beaten by the gazelle over there.
He is quick. But the Leader of the Opposition will have to run a bit faster to get away from his own comments. He says businesses will shut down. He says whole towns will shut down. But on 1 July we will see the reality.