Carbon tax will be ‘ fiercely contested’
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.