Labor stands by emissions trading scheme


Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plan to abolish the carbon tax may have to wait at least nine months after the Labor shadow cabinet agreed to block the bills unless the government moves to an emissions trading scheme in 2014.


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor will seek to amend the government’s repeal laws after they are introduced in the first week of parliament starting on November 12.

“The opposition will move amendments consistent with our pre-election commitments to terminate the carbon tax on the basis of moving to an effective emissions trading scheme,” Mr Shorten said.

“However, if our amendments are not successful we will oppose the government’s repeal legislation, in line with our long-held principle position to act on climate change.”

Mr Abbott argues his election win gives him a clear mandate to abolish Labor’s carbon tax and associated climate change agencies and replace them with his Direct Action plan.

But Mr Shorten said Labor is not a “rubber stamp” for Mr Abbott.

“We won’t be bullied, and I won’t be bullied by Tony Abbott merely because he doesn’t accept the science of climate change,” Mr Shorten said on Friday.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the trading scheme is “exactly the same” as a carbon tax and the government would not support it.

Mr Hunt said repealing the carbon tax would save households $550 a year.

Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott wants the opposition to support the coalition’s legislation.

“The last thing business and the economy needs is for actions by the parliament to lead to one of the world’s highest carbon prices remaining in place for an extended and uncertain period,” Ms Westacott said.

Under Labor’s carbon pricing regime, big polluters paid a fixed price per tonne of emissions ahead of a planned shift to a market-based pricing mechanism in 2014.

The new government has the numbers in the House of Representatives to pass its legislation but Labor and the Greens will amend the bills in the Senate.

The detail of Labor’s amendments, which are yet to receive full caucus endorsement, will be released before parliament starts and the party will support a Senate inquiry into the bills.

Labor’s decision lays the groundwork for a possible double-dissolution election, which Mr Abbott has said is an option if he can’t pass his bills.

This could occur if the lower house fails to accept the Senate-amended bills, or the Senate rejects the bills outright, and the same thing occurs when they are reintroduced after a period of three months.

“We will not stop until the carbon tax is repealed,” Mr Hunt said.

“We will take each step methodically and with complete intention until the carbon tax is repealed.”

The government is likely to get its way in the Senate after July 1 when conservative crossbench senators who oppose the carbon tax take up their seats.

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