Departing Swan takes aim at Coalition “right wing thugs” over carbon price

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Retiring Labor stalwart Wayne Swan cites losing carbon price debate to “vicious” Abbott-led scare campaign as major regret.

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Retiring Labor MP and former Treasurer of Australia, Wayne Swan, has taken a parting shot at the former leader of the Coalition, Tony Abbott, and his band of “extreme right wing thugs”, for the role they played in overturning the Gillard government’s carbon pricing policy.

It was a Pyrrhic victory, Swan says, that has mostly resulted in today’s soaring electricity prices.

In response to a question about the biggest regrets of his political career, Swan told a press conference in Brisbane on Saturday that Labor’s defeat in the national carbon price debate topped the list, in terms of policy.

“As Treasurer, I did six Budgets, two stimulus packages, and with my colleagues put in place very significant economic and social reforms (including) carbon pricing,” Swan said.

“When we brought in the carbon price, in which Tony Abbott and a group of extreme right-wing thugs pushed the door open, labelled it effectively as a carbon tax and conducted one of the most vicious and destructive scare campaigns in modern history. Losing that debate is a regret,” Swan said.

“The substantial increase in power bills today we are seeing is a consequence of Labor’s policy being removed and of the conservatives engaging in denial of climate change and trying to destroy the renewable energy industry. That’s policy regret number one.”

Abbott’s infamous “axe the tax” campaign ultimately resulted in abolition of the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme, and the unravelling of its renewable energy support mechanisms in July 2014, when the federal Senate voted to pass the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill and seven related bills through the upper house without amendment, 39 to 32.

After the vote, Australia’s currently embattled deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, remarked thus: “You look at the weather today. Look at the way you’re dressed. No one thinks it’s too hot.”

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