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PM accuses Barnett of hoodwinking on tax
Julia Gillard visits Carnegie Wave Energy Research Facility. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reignited the Federal Government’s dispute with Colin Barnett over his refusal to allow information on the carbon tax to be inserted in electricity bills, accusing him of “hoodwinking” West Australians.

In Perth today to announce a historic deal for a WA tidal energy developer to supply power to HMAS Stirling naval base on Garden Island, Ms Gillard also revealed she would “not have the opportunity” to meet WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan during the visit.

Ms Gillard said Mr Barnett was trying to solely blame the Federal Government’s carbon pricing, which will increase average power bills by about 10 per cent, for WA’s high electricity prices.

Mr Barnett has previously ruled out allowing the Commonwealth to insert information into Synergy bills, saying that would amount to “propaganda”.

Ms Gillard this morning said the average household would pay $3.30 extra a week on electricity as a result of carbon pricing, but Commonwealth assistance would be on average $10.10 a week.

“I want every West Australian, every Australian, to be able to judge the facts for themselves,” she said. “I have wanted in power bills in WA to see an insert that explains to people the impact on electricity pricing, the impact of the 10 per cent rise and also the assistance that’s available from the Federal Government.

“Unfortunately that won’t be happening because Premier Barnett, who has overseen a 57 per cent increase in electricity prices in this State, is hoping to not take responsibility for those increases but try and blame them on the Federal Government.

“In denying West Australians the facts, Premier Barnett is trying to hoodwink them on the actions of his Government and the impact that has had on power prices.

“Premier Barnett should agree to have information with power bills, which clearly explain 57 per cent increase from the State Government, no real assistance for households, an impost of more than $500 for each household.”

It is second time in recent months Ms Gillard has used a visit to WA to criticise Mr Barnett. In April she accused him of failing to ensure the benefits of the WA mining boom were fairly distributed.

Ms Gillard also used this morning’s visit to continue warning that her opponent, Tony Abbott, would wreak industrial relations havoc if elected.

“The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, in a speech in Sydney last week made it absolutely clear that (the Coalition) are after cutting penalty rates, they are after cutting the kinds of benefits that working people rely on to make ends meet,” she said.

“They’ve got form in the past, they’ve cut penalty rates, overtime, leave loading, public holiday pay and it’s clear, that’s their vision of workplace relations for the future.”

Michael Ottaviano, chief executive of Fremantle-based Carnegie Wave Energy, said the company’s agreement with the Department of Defence would give it exclusive purchase of all electricity from the company’s Perth wave energy project.

“The project will be located on Garden Island, where HMAS Stirling, Australia’s largest naval base (is located),” he said.

“The technology will (be) fully submerged, wave-driven pumping system that will sit about 3km off shore of the island, south-west of the island. It will deliver high-pressure fresh water back ashore to the onshore site at the southern end of Garden Island where it will be converted into electricity and put into the local HMAS Stirling local infrastructure.”

The project, in the detailed design phase pending required Government approvals, is to supply 2 megawatts of installed energy capacity to the equivalent of 1000 households.

Federal and State Government funding accounts for 50 per cent of the costs of the project.

Construction and commissioning is to happen by the end of 2013.

Mr McGowan said last week he did not foresee campaigning with Ms Gillard in WA because he wanted the March 2013 election to be fought on State issues.