Australia’s climate change legislation passes the final test in the Senate

Will Fitzgibbon writes about Australia’s carbon tax passing its final legislative hurdle.

By Will Fitzgibbon

Australia’s Senate today passed the package of 18 bills that comprise the nation’s first comprehensive legislative response to climate change.

The clean energy legislative package, known locally as the ‘carbon tax,’ has at its core the introduction of a price on carbon from July 1st 2012. The legislation previously passed the House of Representatives on October 12th and will now go to the Governor-General for Royal Assent.

After the Senate vote, prime minister Julia Gillard said:

“Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land.

“This comes after a quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary enquiries and years of bitter debate and division.

“Today our nation has got this done.”

The carbon pricing imposes taxes on Australia’s 500 biggest polluters who, according to government figures, are responsible for 60 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The 500 polluters will pay a fixed price of AUD 23 for every tonne of carbon they release from 1 July 2012, before moving to a full emissions-trading scheme in 2015.

The scheme is estimated to add around AUD 7.7 billion in revenue in 2012-2013.

Under the plan, the government is offering compensation to nine out of ten households for increases in costs of living. According to government estimates, average households will see cost increases of AUD 9.90 per week, while the average assistance will be AUD 10.10 per week.

In a modeling report on carbon pricing in July 2011, the Australian Department of Treasury outlined that Australia’s economy will continue to grow with the carbon pricing mechanism and that its effect will be to slow growth by only 0.1 of a percentage point per year.

The carbon pricing scheme has come under huge pressure from Tony Abbott’s federal opposition, which has promised to repeal the laws if elected to office.  A recent survey shows that public opposition to the carbon tax rose one per cent from August to November 2011 to 57 per cent.

See also:

Gideonomics: A rogue chancellor fails to run the greenest government everEleanor Besley, October 19th 2011

Government inaction on green economy is holding us backLuciana Berger MP, September 3rd 2011

Another blow for Gillard as High Court rules refugee “swap” deal illegalShamik Das, August 31st 2011

Carbon Trust reveals UK emissions likely to rise into the 2020sGuy Shrubsole, May 11th 2011

Why won’t the government investigate its carbon emissions?Guy Shrubsole, March 4th 2011

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