Sydney Morning Herald
By Lenore Taylor
Carbon law ‘a boost for PM’
THE Gillard government has seized on the passage of its carbon pricing laws as a political turning point, predicting that the reality of the tax and a likely advertising campaign will puncture the Opposition Leader’s ”scare campaign” and help revive her party’s political fortunes.
After Labor and the Greens combined in the Senate to finally pass the bills yesterday, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said they had ”made history”.
Ms Gillard said the nation had ”taken the most effective step it can to cut carbon pollution”, with the tax designed to achieve at least a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020. The Greens leader, Bob Brown, hailed it as a ”green letter day”.
The tax will be paid directly by the 500 biggest-polluting businesses from July 1 next year.
A new coalition of 300 businesses welcomed it yesterday but the Business Council of Australia said it had the potential to ”significantly increase risks to economic growth and competitiveness”.
The council has been particularly concerned that the starting price of $23 a tonne is far higher than the figure of $9 to $12 a tonne applying in Europe and that only a legislated amendment could change it.
The most emissions-intensive industries will initially receive 94.5 per cent of their permits free.
But the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, told the Herald a price difference did not matter during the three-year, fixed-price period before the tax converted to an emissions trading scheme.
A government advertising campaign appears likely next year before the tax comes in, although the government says no decision has been made.
Ms Gillard appeared to rule out ever agreeing to a repeal of the tax, even if Labor suffered an election rout. ”This is our package … We’ll support it today, we will support it tomorrow, we will support it in a year’s time, five years’ time, 10 years’ time.” The carbon price has been at the heart of the past four years of political turmoil. Labor and the Coalition went to the 2007 election promising an emissions trading scheme but the version of the former prime minister Kevin Rudd was defeated after Tony Abbott overthrew Malcolm Turnbull as Coalition leader because of his pro-carbon pricing stance.