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Carbon tax repeal first order of business on first day of Parliament

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The Coalition government has gone straight to work on repealing Australia’s carbon price, introducing what the Prime Minister described as the 44th Parliament’s “first economic reform” just over one hour into the first session in the House of Representatives.

After some less than enlightened debate over parliamentary name-calling (sparked when Christopher Pyne dubbed the leader of the Opposition ‘Electricity Bill’), Tony Abbott held up his Party’s legislation to scrap the carbon tax, declaring it had already been voted for by the Australian people.

“The election was a referendum on the carbon tax. The people have spoken. Now it’s up to this Parliament to show that it’s listened,” Abbott said in Canberra this morning.

“We are not playing word games. We are not playing tactical political games. We are doing what we were elected to do. Others have said they would terminate the carbon tax, but they were only renaming it. Well, Madam Speaker, we are not renaming it. We are not floating it. We are not keeping the machinery in place so we can dust it off in the future. We are abolishing the carbon tax in full. We have said what we mean and we will do what we say – the carbon tax goes. It goes.”

As usual, the accompanying rhetoric from the Liberal Party was around the cost of living, and how scrapping the carbon price would cut the cost of electricity bills.

“This bill will reduced your bills,” said Abbott. “When the price of power comes down, the ACCC will be ready to ensure that these price reductions are passed on to households and businesses.”

And he added that while the carbon tax would go, the compensation put in place by the former Labor government would stay, “so that every Australian should be better off.”

Then it was the turn of Coalition Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, to introducing the associated repeal bills, including legislation to scrap the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Watch this space.

Meanwhile, on the special “Open for Business” episode of ABC TV’s Q&A program, which aired on Monday night, panel members including Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond, Santos chief executive David Knox, Nestle Australia chair Elizabeth Proust, Stockland non executive director Graham Bradley and the founding chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Carol Schwartz, aired their own views on climate change and carbon pricing.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

Elizabeth Proust: “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t believe that climate change is real and we do need to deal with our emissions.”

“There should be a carbon price and an Emission Trading Scheme and I don’t think there is many people in business who would disagree with that.”

“It is easy in opposition to have the, you know, … end the carbon tax, but when you get into government you actually have to do something about the fundamental causes of those issues.”

John Symond: “I think there needs to be a price on carbon but I think the way it was structured as a carbon tax was the wrong way to go … but there needs to be a price on carbon.”

David Knox: “We want Australia to remain competitive. You know, that’s extremely important, and we want to drive down our carbon footprint. So we want to achieve those dual things.”

“(If) we could get emissions in Australia down by, say, half of that if we really went for it, if we pulled those levers in the correct way, by mixing renewables, mixing gas and then basically keeping the coal to a bare minimum in order to provide base load we can do it and that, I think, is the real challenge that we need to set ourselves going forward over the next five to 10 years.”

Graham Bradley: “There is a lot of factors that go to make electricity prices go up, as they have, you know, significantly for most Australians’ households and businesses over recent times. For example, the carbon tax was just one of them. There is also the price of gas, there’s also the cost of linking renewable energy and wind farms into our system and the capital cost associated with that. So it would be wrong to expect a sudden and dramatic reduction in all costs across the economy by abolishing just one of the factors that’s affected that.”

Carol Schwartz: “Australia is the second largest polluter per capita globally of carbon and I don’t think that any of us are very proud of that. And I think that the carbon tax … was meant to be the first stage of the Emission Trading Scheme and Julia Gillard herself has said that … calling it a carbon tax … actually created a big … political problem.”

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  • Keith

    Shameful that the Coalition continues to seek to frame debate on climate change in terms of electricity prices.
    When will there be acknowledgement that this (climate change not electricity prices) is a serious problem that needs concerted action and that pricing carbon is just one part of the solution?

  • John Duffield

    The Government may well trumpet that they have a political mandate to remove the carbon tax which was born out of the electorates concerns about the rising cost of energy. Even when they are successful in removing the carbon tax and if the full savings are passed onto consumers I doubt very much that the voters will feel anything other than they were sold a pup ( no reference to the Palmer United Party). It will be interesting to observe how the Government will deal with any voter backlash
    Particularly when the main cost drivers to rising energy costs will still be at play.

    • RobS

      This would almost be wroth the Labor party and the Greens allowing the carbon tax removal through for. Even if it goes I guarantee electricity prices will rise, by a bit less then they might otherwise but there will be no fall that the Liberal party has promised and I think the backlash for that will be powerful.