Dire warning to coast families

NORTH Coast families will be hard hit by rises in the cost of living as a result of the Rudd Government's Emission Trading Scheme, member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, said yesterday.

Mr Hartsuyker said pensioners, retirees and low-income families would be worst affected by increases in the cost of utilities and groceries.

“Last year Kevin Rudd told the Australian people that he would put downward pressure on fuel prices and downward pressure on the cost of living,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“Today, he has released details of a scheme which will have severe impacts on the most vulnerable in our community.

“There are already projections that the price of electricity will rise by around 16 per cent, but Mr Rudd has not told the Australian people how much compensation they will receive from the Government.”

Mr Hartsuyker said many North Coast families were already struggling with rises in the cost of living and Mr Rudd was going to put these people under further pressure.

“The Prime Minister has been very cunning in the way he has introduced these measures. For example he has delayed increases in the tax on petrol until after the next election,” he said.

“And trucks will also be eligible for the offset but this will be reviewed after just one year.

“The Coalition has a clear policy on this. That is - any increase in the cost of fuel as a result of an ETS will be offset by a decrease in the fuel excise.

“Mr Rudd needs to spell out to all Australians what his long-term policy of fuel will be. He must come clean on the detail so that Australians know what they are going to be expected to pay.”

Meanwhile, Climate Change minister Penny Wong has scotched speculation that differences over climate policy could force a fresh Federal election. The government could face an uphill battle getting its proposed emissions trading scheme through the Senate, where it does not hold a majority.

Any legislation will need the support of the opposition or, failing that, the combined backing of five Greens senators, Family First's Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon.

Senator Wong talked down the possibility that an upper house impasse may force a double dissolution of parliament.

The opposition has criticised the government's model for an emissions trading scheme, calling for the start date of 2010 to be pushed back, and for deeper cuts to petrol excise.

But the Greens think the scheme is too soft on coal, saying it will not do enough to cut carbon pollution.

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