Carbon tax 'finally axed'
Following weeks of ambivalence, negotiation, and a marathon debate lasting more than 50 hours, Tony Abbott's carbon tax repeal bill finally reached its parliamentary frontier when the Senate voted early on Thursday (17 July) to pass it 39-32.
In a statement following the Senate vote, Abbott praised the passage of the repeal saying, "today the Parliament finally listened. Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone."
He declared the development as: "great news for Australian families and for our nation’s small businesses.
"At the election, the Coalition made a pledge: to scrap the carbon tax, stop the boats, get the Budget under control and build the roads of the 21st century. All these commitments were designed to help families.
"We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia."
Abbott asserted the government was not leaving Australia without a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and expressed confidence they would be able to find necessary support to allow their Direction Action bill to pass the Senate – notwithstanding stern opposition from the ALP, Greens and various crossbenchers.
"What we've seen over the last few days is that just because people will start off with a particular position doesn't mean that they end up with the same position," he said.
"Early days" for opposition policy
At a press conference opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor would concoct their own emissions trading scheme, but would not support the Direction Action scheme, describing it as an ineffectual plan which doles "wads of taxpayer money to big polluters for little likely result". He did not offer any firm perspective on how the ALP's scheme would be structured.
"It's early days for us to be announcing our election policies," Shorten said.
"On Monday I outlined the principles that Labor will apply in terms of developing an emissions trading scheme. We know that water levels are rising.
"We know that 13 of the last 14 years have been the hottest on record.
"We know that heat-trapping greenhouse gases are going to cause and are causing a problem for our environment, so we know that we need to be part of international best practice."
A desirable outcome: cement industry
In a midday statement, the Cement Industry Federation (CIF) applauded the government for the carbon tax repeal, also saying it appreciated the ongoing support of PUP and various senators which procured the final outcome.
"The CIF supports climate change policy that is trade neutral and global in nature to ensure Australian cement manufacturing is not replaced by production from countries that are not subject to a comparable price on their carbon emissions," the statement said.
"The CIF also supports climate policy that delivers greenhouse gas abatement at least cost – which is not the experience under the current policy. The price was set at $25.40 per tonne of CO2-e for 2014-15, which is understood to be the highest carbon price in the world.
"In this context, the CIF supported legislation to repeal the carbon tax and remains committed to working with the Australian government in the development of alternative policies that will achieve greenhouse gas abatement while at the same time maintaining the competitiveness of Australian industry."
Chief Executive of the Cement Industry Federation Margie Thomson said: "The repeal of the carbon tax is an important step towards addressing the cost impost on Australian cement manufacturers resulting from an inefficient and inequitable policy."