Australia votes to repeal carbon tax

 
In this Wednesday, July 2, 2014 photo, smoke billows out of a chiming chimney stack of a steel works factories in Port Kembla 86 kilometers (53 miles) south of Sydney Australia has one of the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the world

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Australia's Senate has voted to repeal the carbon tax, a levy on the biggest polluters passed by the previous Labor government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition beat Labor in an election last year, had made the repeal a central aim of his government.

Politicians have been locked in a fierce row about the tax for years.

Labor says it helps to combat climate change, but the Liberals claim it penalises legitimate businesses.

The Australian Senate voted by 39 to 32 votes to repeal the tax.

Introduced in July 2012, it charges the 348 highest polluters A$23 (£13; $22.60) for every tonne of greenhouse gases they produce.

'Bereft of policy'

Australia is the developed world's worst polluter per head of population. But critics, including Mr Abbott, said that the tax cost jobs and forced energy prices up.

There were widespread protests against the introduction of the tax in Australia and its repeal formed a major part of Mr Abbot's election manifesto.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the carbon tax had been "useless and destructive"

He says he plans to replace it with a A$2.55bn taxpayer-funded plan under which industries will be paid to reduce emissions and use cleaner energy.

His coalition does not hold a majority in the Senate but the repeal went through with the support of senators from mining tycoon Clive Palmer's Palmer United Party.

"Scrapping the carbon tax is a foundation of the government's economic action strategy," said Mr Abbott, calling the move "great news for Australian families".

"We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia."

Labor and the Greens voted against the repeal, with Greens leader Christine Milne describing the vote as an "appalling day for Australia".

Labor accused Mr Abbott of "taking Australia backwards while the rest of the world is moving forward".

"All of Australia's major trading partners are taking serious action on climate change, including in our own region," opposition leader Bill Shorten said in a statement.

He says his party will include a policy to introduce an emissions trading scheme in its campaign for the 2016 election.

The Climate Institute think-tank said in a statement that the move left Australia "bereft of credible climate policy".

"What we are left with as potential replacement policy rests on three wobbly legs - a government fund subject to an annual budgetary arm wrestle, uncertain non-binding limits on some company emissions, and a renewable energy target under assault," it said.

Australia has promised to reduce its emissions levels by 5% on 2000 levels by 2020.

A target of obtaining 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 also remains in place, and Mr Palmer has said he will not support its repeal.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 201.

    So instead of taxing big polluters the taxpayer now has to pay them to reduce emissions. And the vote got through on the back of a mining tycoon's crony senators. And I thought the UK was corrupt. Australia is a beautiful country being plundered for its resources by big business. I guess the population is happy as long as the dollars keep rolling in, but future generations will pay a heavy price.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 130.

    Whatever your views on the causes or even existence of global warming, two facts that cannot be denied are:
    1. There is only a finite quantity of fossil fuel available.
    2. For the foreseeable future we will overwhelmingly depend on fossil fuels for our energy needs.

    Therefore any measure which results in a reduction in the rate at which the supply is used up can only be a good thing.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 91.

    'a safe and secure Australia' is not going to be achieved if they further ruin the planet. Yet again another example of a shambolic government trying to look after their own personal interests of today, and paying no attention to the reality of tomorrow.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 77.

    It’s depressing that we have a country that on one level has been happy to boast about having one of the strongest economies in the world, yet when it comes to leading the way on climate change suddenly, Australia sees the need to play the ‘hard times’ card.
    Seems that your almost top scores in HDI/quality of life indexes represent an artificial world of expecting others to make the sacrifices.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 44.

    Australia is practically one of the best countries in the world for trials and implementation of mass solar electricity generation, the conditions could hardly be better. Imagine the roads alone were solar paneled, Australia would be exporting energy.

    Instead Abbot appears to be on a campaign to do as much damage as possible, deliberately it seems.

 

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