Australia begins selling pollution tax

Jul 11, 2011 by Marc Lavine
Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard speaks in Canberra. The prime minister said a new carbon tax, which will be offset by a package of personal tax breaks, was needed to tackle carbon pollution in Australia, one of the world's biggest per capita carbon emitters.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard began Monday the mammoth task of selling a bold new tax on carbon emissions to sceptical voters, in a battle that could make or break her fragile rule.

But Gillard, who leads a shaky , immediately faced a furious reaction from industries targeted by the , with coal and ore miners, airlines and other businesses warning it could hobble the economy.

While Canberra insists the tax on the nation's 500 biggest will help slow global warming and save natural treasures such as the , opponents say it will have little effect on but will cost taxpayers billions and force major industry to slash production and jobs.

"We've opted for the cheapest way of cutting ," Gillard said on commercial television as she launched an election-style campaign to convince voters and big business of the necessity of action unveiled Sunday.

"At its core it really is quite simple, we at the moment put carbon pollution into our atmosphere for nothing, a big polluter can just keep chugging it up into the skies and not pay anything," she said.

"The core of this is those big polluters will pay a price, they're smart business people, when a bill comes in for carbon pollution they'll say, 'How can I reduce that bill, how can I change my processes so I generate less carbon pollution?'."

The prime minister said the new tax, which will be offset by a package of personal tax breaks, was needed to tackle carbon pollution in Australia, one of the world's biggest per capita carbon emitters.

Gillard on Sunday unveiled the , which she had pledged during last year's not to introduce, setting the price at Aus$23 ($24.74) per tonne from July 1 next year to help battle climate change.

Under the plan, which is under heavy attack from the conservative opposition party, there will be a fixed price on carbon pollution until Asia-Pacific's largest emissions trading scheme to date is launched in 2015.

A protester holds a placard denouncing carbon tax during a rally in Sydney. Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard began Monday the mammoth task of selling a bold new tax on carbon emissions to sceptical voters, in a battle that could make or break her fragile rule.

The government faces a tough battle convincing voters, who polls have shown are resistant to the tax that is expected to increase consumer prices by 0.7 percent, and major industries are violently opposed to it.

The coal industry came out with all guns blazing Monday, warning the new tax would force mine closures and cost thousands of jobs in the industry that is one of the major drivers of Australia's mineral exports-led economy.

"It's a regrettable policy," Ralph Hillman, executive director of the Australian Coal Association, told public broadcaster ABC.

"You are going to lose jobs in Australia, we calculate about 4,700 direct jobs (through closures of existing mines), but for no cuts in emissions," he said, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the scheme.

Gillard however said the coal industry would not be harmed and jobs would not be jeopardised.

"There will be growth in jobs in coal," she said. "The demand for coal will continue very strong. In terms of the impact of carbon pricing on coal mining the average impact is Aus$1.40 per tonne," she told commercial radio.

The Minerals Council said the plan would "take a baseball bat to the Australian economy", including a Aus$25 billion hit to mining, while doing little to reduce emissions.

Australia's biggest airline Qantas also weighed into the debate, saying it would cost the carrier some Aus$110 million-Aus$115 million in its first year which it would have to pass onto customers given the challenges facing global aviation.

And the nation's biggest employer lobby group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warned the tax would weaken the economy, dubbed the "Wonder from Down Under" which emerged strong from the global financial crisis.

Explore further: 'Doing nothing' to maintain the dunes on Ameland does not affect coastal safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia sets carbon price to fight climate change

Jul 10, 2011

Australia Sunday announced plans to tax carbon pollution at Aus$23 (US$24.74) per tonne to help battle climate change, as it moves towards an emissions trading scheme similar to that of Europe.

Australia cuts number of firms liable to new tax

Jul 07, 2011

Australia has halved the number of companies needing to pay a contentious pollution tax from 1,000 to about 500, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Thursday, stressing only big business will be hit.

Australia to unveil pollution tax

Jul 05, 2011

Australia will unveil the full details of its contentious pollution tax within days, Treasurer Wayne Swan said Tuesday, promising help for households facing higher energy bills.

Australia pollution tax wins crucial backing

Jul 08, 2011

Australia's controversial pollution tax looked all but certain to pass after a key lawmaker confirmed that he would support the package, which aims to reduce emissions blamed for climate change. ...

Australian PM faces toughest test on carbon tax

Jun 05, 2011

(AP) -- Australia's leader faces her toughest political test to date as she tries to sell the nation on a carbon tax that would lead to higher power prices while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recommended for you

User comments : 20

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
2.6 / 5 (15) Jul 11, 2011
Australia begins selling pollution tax


How do you "sell" something based on a lie and which you lied about when you said you would not do it during the campaign to be elected?

You tell more lies, of course. The question is "Are Australians that gullible?"? I suspect that Australia will have a new Prime Minister.
Argon
3 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2011
Silence of the Lambs?

"Hello, Clarice!"
M_N
2.4 / 5 (14) Jul 11, 2011
I agree, Dogbert. Thankfully the Australian people are not that stupid.

The Australian Labor government is doing this in defiance of the wishes of most Australians, and as a consequence would face their lowest ever primary vote (27%) if the election was held tomorrow. Unfortunately, the next election is 2 years away, so we'll have to tolerate this madness for a bit longer...
Vendicar_Decarian
2.8 / 5 (11) Jul 11, 2011
"How do you "sell" something based on a lie" = dogbert

Good question Dogbert. Your own question contains a lie that provides a wonderful answer to it's own question.

You couldn't have done better if you had actually known what you were doing.

Aahahahahahahahahaha.....
Vendicar_Decarian
2.7 / 5 (11) Jul 11, 2011
"The Australian Labor government is doing this in defiance of the wishes of most Australians" - MN

Well, at least against the wishes of you.

However the scientific community supports the Australian initiative 100 percent.

ted208
2.7 / 5 (12) Jul 11, 2011
"The Australian Labor government is doing this in defiance of the wishes of most Australians" - MN

Well, at least against the wishes of 70% of the public.

However the crooked scientific community supports the Australian initiative 100 percent.

Good by Juliar 2 years and counting and you sooo gone!!!
Davecoolman
3.2 / 5 (13) Jul 11, 2011
The Aussie carbon tax is unfortunately very good news for the rest of the world, because governments around the world will see what happens when tax-hungry, ideological zealots go too far.
When Juliar Gillards Labor party is decimated in the next election, no career-minded politician will dare touch a carbon tax again, especially at a time when the science is proving to be less settled than Al Gores marital situation or his grand and failing Carbon trading scams.
dogbert
2.5 / 5 (16) Jul 11, 2011
However the scientific community supports the Australian initiative 100 percent.


Isn't it funny when people pretend that there is a "scientific community" and that that community agrees 100% on something.

LOL
bluehigh
2.1 / 5 (11) Jul 12, 2011
However the scientific community supports the Australian initiative 100 percent.


Not quite so Vendi. Much of the scientific community want a much bigger effort than this initiative which may have little impact in pollution reduction. Of course in the absence of a more intense effort then its 100% better than no effort, even if based on misrepresentation of climate change data.

frenchie
3 / 5 (2) Jul 12, 2011
dogbert must be that woman in the picture.
Howhot
1 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2011
"Hello, Clarice!"

Lol. Preyy good observation.

However the crooked scientific community
Howhot
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 12, 2011
Sorry my native language is French. I meant to say "Lol. Pretty good observation!" An in regards to your insult on the scientific community, all I can gather is your a NUT! Kook, and idiot to boot. FU rightwing A-hole.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2011
I've been following this a bit, though the coverage here in the US isn't very complete.

I would like to make an observation in regard to claims made by the two sides of this thing. Gillard has proposed to introduce a modest tax to start with, and offer household compensation to cover the predicted increase in household energy bills. The anti-tax people are complaining that the incentives add up to more than the tax, so Gillard's plan starts as a defecite program. That isn't entirely fair though. Since an energy tax causes a ripple effect on the price of every-day goods and services, which are taxed as a % of price, the actual taxes collected by an energy tax are far greater than the base tax plan imposed on the energy producers. Unfortunately, a short time later, that increase in tax revenue is offset by directly proportional slowdowns in consumer spending. Since most people spend to the limit of their means already, they can't spend more than they make. More tax = less buying.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2011
By the way, the Jodi Foster/Gillard thing was funny.

In other pictures of her she doesn't look so similar. I had a picture of the German Chancellor, Merkel, that looked so much like the Emperor from Star Wars that I actually cut and pasted her face into the Emperor's hood once, as a joke for my facebook page. No political statement was intended. I'm neutral about her. I just wanted to see if anybody could guess who she was.
DamienS
4 / 5 (3) Jul 13, 2011
The anti-tax people are complaining that the incentives add up to more than the tax, so Gillard's plan starts as a defecite program.

Kind of. The program is broadly budget neutral. I think they're factoring in a deficit of about four billion dollars over four years, which is peanuts.

Unfortunately, a short time later, that increase in tax revenue is offset by directly proportional slowdowns in consumer spending. Since most people spend to the limit of their means already, they can't spend more than they make. More tax = less buying.

Over 90% of households will be compensated through tax cuts or pension increases, which will be indexed over the three year period as the carbon price increases.

The other good thing is that the income tax-free threshold will be increased from around six thousand dollars to $18.2k, which will mean a million or more people will pay no tax at all. These measures are designed not to bring about such a slowdown.
omatumr
2.2 / 5 (10) Jul 15, 2011
Here's a video of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's encounter with an Australian citizen who reminded her of her campaign promise not to tax carbon:

http://wattsupwit...a-medal/

http://anhonestcl...s-julia/
Howhot
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 15, 2011
Omatumr, the problem is not should polluters be taxed, but how much more they should be taxed for their sins against there fellow man kind. As a business, to survive and please customers, they will need to pollute a lot less. It's as simple as that.
LVT
3 / 5 (4) Jul 16, 2011
I think farmers should be paying CO2 emitters for all the free plant-food they are currently using for free.

Since
1) The effect of current and future levels of CO2 on the climate is zero.
2) The effect of more bureaucrat control (high tax) of the economy is strongly linked with pollution (see example of USSR) taxation should be cut to allow wealth to grow to a level where people choose the luxury good called environmentalism.
CapitalismPrevails
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 16, 2011
I can see New Zealand beeing this dumb but Australia, NO.
astro_optics
2 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2011
So what the hell will they do when everyone has solar panels on their homes, and they don't pay or use any "Carbon" energy... How will they get their taxes???...by taxing the CO2 we exhale!