Car­bon tax will be ‘ fiercely con­tested’

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

THE Gil­lard gov­ern­ment has con­ceded it will take a long de­bate to con­vince the pub­lic of the ben­e­fits of a car­bon tax plan.

Re­spond­ing to a poll show­ing the elec­torate’s grow­ing dis­quiet with the gov­ern­ment’s car­bon price plan, Cli­mate Min­is­ter Greg Com­bet said: ‘‘ It’s very early days’’.

‘‘ This is go­ing to be a long de­bate,’’ Mr Com­bet said.

‘‘ It’s a fiercely con­tested is­sue in the pub­lic arena.’’

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment wants to im­pose a fixed price on car­bon from July 1, 2012, ahead of in­tro­duc­ing a mar­ket-priced mech­a­nism within an emis­sions trad­ing scheme in 2015.

Mr Com­bet ad­mit­ted house­holds would be fi­nan­cially worse off, but said any rise in liv­ing costs would be ‘‘ mod­est’’.

There would also be a ‘‘ par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis’’ on help­ing low-in­come house­holds.

Even with­out a car­bon price the lack of in­vest­ment in elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion meant the cost of turn­ing on a light would rise re­gard­less, he said.

The Op­po­si­tion bit­terly op­poses the car­bon price plan.

Op­po­si­tion cli­mate spokesman Greg Hunt said the coali­tion’s so­called ‘‘ di­rect ac­tion’’ pol­icy, which would pay pol­luters not to pol­lute, would stay.

‘‘ Our pol­icy is ab­so­lutely firm and rock solid,’’ Mr Hunt said yes­ter­day.

Asked if the Op­po­si­tion was de­ter­mined to take the di­rect ac­tion pol­icy ‘‘ to the next elec­tion’’, Mr Hunt was cat­e­gor­i­cal. ‘‘ Yes it is.’’

Mean­while, Op­po­si­tion Leader Tony Ab­bott has urged the Gov­ern­ment not to spend mil­lions of dol­lars on an ad cam­paign spruik­ing its car­bon tax.

It would be un­con­scionable for the Gov­ern­ment to use tax­pay­ers’ money in an ad cam­paign for some­thing which would cre­ate a slush fund to pro­tect its po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion, he said.

‘‘ The Gov­ern­ment has form when it comes to us­ing mil­lions of dol­lars of tax­pay­ers’ money to pro­mote party po­lit­i­cal poli­cies,’’ he said.

‘‘ I think it would be un­con­scionable for the Gov­ern­ment to use tax­pay­ers’ money in an ad cam­paign on this sub­ject, at least be­fore the leg­is­la­tion is passed to par­lia­ment.’’

He said Mr Com­bet seemed to think car­bon t ax r ev­enue was about re­dis­tribut­ing money as op­posed to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

Mr Ab­bott said he didn’t be­lieve a $ 300 a year hit on power bills was ‘‘ mod­est’’.

Aus­tralian Greens l eader Bob Brown said his party was ‘‘ very com­mit­ted’’ to see­ing the gov­ern­ment’s car­bon price leg­is­la­tion pass.

He said the ‘‘ Aus­tralian peo­ple are not mugs’’ and did, in fact, sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s plan. Just 400 peo­ple turned up out­side the Prime Min­is­ter’s Mel­bourne of­fice to op­pose the car­bon tax, whereas 8000 ral­lied in sup­port of the plan, he said.

Greg Com­bet

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