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Not everything worth doing is easy: Jenny Macklin

Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin

In my job, you get to meet a lot of babies.

As the Federal Minister for Families, last Friday I was with kids at the Shepherd Centre in Sydney talking about early intervention for kids with hearing problems, and the week before I was in Melbourne’s west speaking to mums returning to work after accessing Paid Parental Leave.

On Monday this week, I met the three Thornton kids from Grovedale, near Geelong. Bryce and Lainnie and their three kids are among the nine out of ten Australian families who will receive assistance under the Government’s plan to put a price on carbon pollution.

Meeting those babies and little kids is high on my list of great things about my job. They remind me why I do what I do. Every parent I’ve ever met is trying to do the right thing by their kids. We’re trying to do the right thing by our country.

Doing the right thing for your kids isn’t always easy. If sleepless nights weren’t enough, those babies grow up to start heated discussions about trips to the dentist or homework. And while there are many points in raising a family where it would be easier to give in, you try to do the right thing — in the hope that when they’re older, with a good education and strong teeth, they might just agree with you.

Taking action on climate change by putting a price on carbon isn’t easy — but we wouldn’t be doing the right thing by our kids if we gave in to all of the slurs and scare campaigns. We’re acting on climate change because we think it’s the right thing to do by our kids.

It’s effective because it will force the big polluters to pay a price for the pollution they put into our atmosphere — which until now they have done for free. This puts a dollar value on innovation, making it worthwhile to work out how to do what we do with less impact on the environment.

It’s fair because the polluters are paying for their pollution — and not Australian families.

I know that while acting on climate change isn’t easy, scraping through until pay day also isn’t easy for many families. The thought of an even bigger electricity bill is a daunting one — but after years of rising electricity prices, Australian families will get a helping hand to pay the bill.

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When the carbon price starts in July next year, we’ll be providing assistance to nine out of ten Australian households to help meet the expected average price increases to things like food and electricity as a result of putting a price on carbon. Families on low incomes and pensioners, will get the most assistance because we know they have less room to move in their budgets.

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As Rick ran through in his carbon price cheat sheet on Monday here on Mamamia, under a carbon price household costs will rise about $9.90 a week all up, including about $1 a week to the average family’s grocery bill. On average, Australian families will receive $10.10 a week in assistance.

The assistance is no strings attached, so if you can make some small changes around the house, and reduce how much energy your family uses, you keep the money. I’m not talking about a wind turbine in the backyard, I’m talking turning the TV off at the power point instead of hitting the button on the remote. Flick the washing machine to cold instead of hot water, or install some energy efficient light bulbs.

These are little things — more habit than hassle — but they can save you a lot of money. Which means that you keep the assistance we’re providing, do your bit to tackle climate change — and can end up ahead.

Pricing carbon is a big change for our country and for our economy, and big change is never easy. But you do what you think is right by your kids.

For more information on the household assistance package go to Clean Energy Future or call 1800 057 590.

Jenny Macklin is the Federal Minister for Families. Do you agree or disagree with her? Is this worth doing? Will the carbon tax affect the way your home uses energy?