Prime Minister Tony Abbott has introduced the bill to repeal the carbon tax in the Parliament, marking the first major piece of legislation from the new government since it won the elections in September.
Introducing the legislation at the first meeting of the 44th Parliament, Mr. Abbott said the September 7 election is a referendum on the carbon tax.
“This bill delivers on the coalition’s commitment to the Australian people to scrap the toxic tax,” he said on Wednesday, quoted in a report on Sky News.
“Repealing the carbon tax should be the first economic reform of this parliament.”
“This is our bill to reduce your bills, to reduce the bills of the people of Australia,” he added.
Abolishing the carbon tax would see electricity costs fall by nine per cent and gas prices by seven per cent, according to the government. This will provide an average household with an annual power bill saving of $550.
A successful passage of the law would not only repeal the carbon tax but would also abolish the Climate Change Authority – a governmental independent advisory body.
However Mr. Abbott faces stiff opposition from the Senate where he lacks majority. The Labor Party and the Australian Greens have also vowed to block the legislation in the Senate. The Coalition however has sufficient number to see the law through the lower house.
Both Labor and the Greens have expressed their disagreement with the Prime Minister’s Direct Action Plan, where industries will be paid to reduce emissions.
Meanwhile the repealing of the carbon tax received the support from several industry groups representing small, medium and large businesses.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) have called on the parliament to avoid costly delay in the repeal of the carbon tax.
“The industry groups believe that Australia’s high carbon tax raises business costs unnecessarily, hitting industry competitiveness and investment confidence,” according to a statement published on the AI Group website.
“Delaying its removal until the new Senate sits – as would be the effect of the Opposition’s current stance – would achieve nothing for the environment, because it is future price expectations – not just the price today – that influence business investment.”
“But delay would add substantially to the costs and burdens facing business and households, particularly in electricity contracts. That would be deeply unhelpful as we try to build a more competitive Australia with a better chance of keeping our manufacturing base onshore.”
The industry groups are all outspoken critics of the carbon tax and said after it has been removed the next step is to make sure that the government’s policy enables emissions to be reduced at lowest cost to the economy, while not impacting industry competitiveness adversely.