Cli­mate change row heats up in Can­berra

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

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.

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