First the good news: finally there is something positive to write about.
Go to our blog “Climate Change Leadership, Australian Style” where the subject was the introduction of national legislation imposing a tax on carbon emissions. We pointed out that heretofore Australian politicians who supported action, whatever form it took, against climate changewere committing political suicide.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, holding a one seat majority in Parliament, has not flinched in the face of political resistance. Her legislation received approval last November 8th and goes into effect in the very near future. The legislative package sets a fixed carbon tax of A$23 a ton on the top 500 polluters from July 2012, to be replaced in July 2015 with a emissions trading scheme. Companies subject to the legislation will need a permit for every ton of carbon they emit.
To blunt any criticism that the policy is a “tax and spend” initiative, the legislation is tied to generous compensation for export industries and steel-makers, and personal tax cuts for 90 per cent of workers (a tax reduction worth on average A$300 a year).
Now the bad news. Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition Conservatives, campaigned against the legislation, and has publicly stated that he will repeal the laws if he takes power. With a one seat majority, a by-election may lead to the fall of the Labour Party. The polls are unfavourable to Prime Minister Gillard. So Mr. Abbott may well be the Australian Prime Minister before the legislation starts to take effect.
Much like in Canada: the Liberals campaigned on the basis of a carbon tax and lost the election. They have yet to recover from this defeat. Let’s hope that Prime Minister Gillard will fare better.