Illawarra Labor MPs react to carbon tax demise

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Picture: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Illawarra Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have slammed the government for repealing the carbon tax.

After days of stalling tactics, the Senate on Thursday finally backed the Coalition’s pledge to ‘‘axe the tax’’, voting 39 to 32 to unwind Labor’s carbon pricing scheme introduced  in 2012.

Mr Jones said Australia was now ‘‘the only country in the world to reverse action on climate change’’.

‘‘History will judge this government harshly for its refusal to believe that action is needed on climate change,’’ Mr Jones said.

Ms Bird said Australia’s trading partners were acting on climate change.

‘‘We should not be standing alone against this critical issue,’’ she said.

“Unlike the Abbott government, Labor believes climate change is real and we must take action.”

However, the state government said NSW households would enjoy lower power bills with the carbon tax now scrapped.

NSW Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said millions of people in NSW would be better off.

Because of the repeal, the average electricity bill could fall by 6 to 8per cent, while gas bills may drop by 4 to 6per cent, Mr Roberts said.

Meantime, Wollongong Coal, which owed a colossal unpaid carbon tax debt of $8.4 million when it was trading as Gujarat NRE, appears to have finally paid the tax, according to the latest data from the Clean Energy Regulator.

The company was being slugged with an interest of 20 per cent per annum on the amount it owed.

Carbon tax demise grabs world headlines

Prime Minister Tony Abbott relished its repeal, Palmer United Party senators hugged at its demise and the world's media turned their attention to Australia as the carbon tax's death knell reverberated around the globe on Thursday. 

The BBC felt the end of the contentious tax, described as a levy on Australia's biggest polluters, warranted second-top billing on its news website on Thursday afternoon.

The BBC report described the repeal as a win for Tony Abbott, but made mention of Australia's status as the "world's worst polluter per head of population" and included critical responses from Labor, the Greens and the Climate Institute think-tank's statement that Australia was now "bereft of credible climate policy".

The Wall Street Journal reported that Australia had become "the world's first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions".

The article suggested the divisive levy had contributed to the fall from power of former prime ministers John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

The Wall Street Journal said Australia's decision could have international consequences ahead of global climate talks to be held in Paris next year.

It highlighted reaction from big businesses, including BHP Billiton, JP Morgan, AGL Energy, Wesfarmers and Virgin Australia Holdings and noted that The Brookings Institution had seen Australia's experience with a carbon tax as an "important laboratory and learning opporutnity" for the United States.

The carbon tax repeal was the lead story on Al Jazeera's  Asia-Pacific website.

Its report also mentioned that Australians were  "the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita" and reported that the tax had proved to be political poison for politicians who supported it, particularly Julia Gillard.

Reuters in Britain described the Senate vote as a "major victory" for Tony Abbott, but said it was no longer clear how Australia would meet its carbon reduction goals.

It described the repeal as a "major setback for CO2 trading".

The New York Times had a short article that said Mr Abbott had made getting rid of the carbon tax a "central pledge of his campaign" ahead of last year's federal election.

The killing of the carbon tax made the front page of the Guardian's website in Britain that reported Australia had gone from being a "climate leader to no plan at all".

Le Monde also featured the story on the front page of its website and said Australia had become the first country to abandon its carbon tax.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, Mr Abbott tweeted that he had fulfilled his election promise.


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