Climate change row heats up in Canberra
THE Opposition has ramped up its attack on the credibility of the prime minister over the carbon tax, as Labor accused Tony Abbott of creating uncertainty for business.
Julia Gillard last week unveiled the broad details of a plan to introduce a fixed price for carbon from July 1, 2012 followed by an emissions trading scheme after three to five years.
Liberal and Nationals MPs yesterday endorsed a shadow cabinet plan to rescind the carbon tax under a coalition government. Ms Gillard said that would be a ‘‘ damaging blow’’ to the economy.
‘‘ That message to international markets would be Australia is not a safe and secure place to invest,’’ she said.
The Labor leader told the caucus the government would ‘ ‘ engage patiently, calmly and methodically’’ while putting together the details of its ETS.
‘‘ Tony Abbott will appear increasingly hysterical and flaky in comparison,’’ she told the caucus.
As both sides traded insults, government adviser Professor Ross Garnaut said he hoped there would be fewer ‘‘slogans’’ and a greater focus on the policy.
‘‘ If we . . . insist on facts, analysis, then what we might think of as the noise of Australian politics won’t dominate outcomes,’’ Prof Garnaut said.
The Opposition used parliamentary question time to prosecute its case against Ms Gillard, who told voters at last year’s election Labor would not introduce a carbon tax.
‘‘ The prime minister is on trial,’’ Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop said.
Mr Abbott visited a fruit market in the NSW-ACT border town of Queanbeyan yesterday to argue power bills for business would rise by 25 per cent under a $ 26 a tonne carbon price.
‘‘ These increases in price cascade right through the economy,’’ Mr Abbott said.
He later told parliament the carbon tax would destroy 16 coal mines and 126,000 jobs in regional areas.
He said the government had no economic credibility.
‘‘ They want a great big new tax to give them a great big new slush fund so they can provide great big handouts to buy their way to an undeserved victory at the next election,’’ Mr Abbott said, calling for an immediate election to test support for the ETS.
Ms Gillard quoted from a letter from Woolworths, which said it could not forecast any price impacts until more details were released.
She said the opposition leader was on record as saying he supported a carbon tax, and former leader Malcolm Turnbull and his supporters remained in favour of an ETS.