Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Andrew Wilkie Says Julia Gillard Must Improve Carbon Tax Sales Job to Regain Public Confidence

TASMANIAN independent Andrew Wilkie has told Julia Gillard to improve her carbon tax sales job amid plummeting public support for the measure.

As fellow crossbencher Rob Oakeshott played down the latest Newspoll - showing only 30 per cent support for the tax - Mr Wilkie said the government had to do something to restore public confidence in the measure.

“Clearly the government does need to do a better job at selling a price on carbon if it is to regain the broad-based support it enjoyed last year,” he told The Australian Online.

Today's Newspoll survey reveals 78 per cent of Australians believe in climate change but 60 per cent oppose Labor's proposed carbon tax.

Mr Oakeshott urged voters to recognise the “economic opportunity and economic importance” of the carbon tax.

“No-one in this business is trying to do anyone any harm,” he said.

“We are trying to do public good in the long term and sometimes that requires some difficult decisions along the way. Everyone is trying to do a public good here.”

Mr Wilkie also offered conditional support for the tax.

“I continue to support a price on carbon so long as the settings are right,” he told The Australian Online.

“Most relevant to me is that Tasmania's overwhelming reliance on renewable energy, and capacity to lock up carbon through forestry, be properly factored into the settings being developed.”

The government will need the support of both MPs, plus independent Tony Windor and Green Adam Bandt, if its carbon tax is to get through the House of Representatives.

As the government seeks business support for the plan, Nationals Leader Warren Truss today accused it of leaving families and small businesses out in the cold.

Mr Truss said the Prime Minister's dinner invitation to big polluters at Kirribilli House tonight showed she was increasingly out of touch with the needs of everyday Australians.

“While Julia Gillard cosies up to the big end of town tonight, wining and dining big business to woo carbon tax support, small business and families are on the outside looking in,” he said.

“Ordinary Australians are already struggling with rising household costs and now they face the prospect of a double whammy from the carbon tax and looming interest rate rises.”

Responding to a Newspoll survey in The Australian yesterday, which showed Labor's primary vote at 33 per cent and her own satisfaction rating at a new low of 38 per cent, Ms Gillard conceded she had “a lot of hard work to do as Prime Minister”.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whose satisfaction rose six percentage points to 42 per cent in the past month, said the poll was “field evidence” of people's carbon tax concerns.

“I think it's the good sense, the common sense, of the worker which is coming to the fore here,” Mr Abbott said.

The Prime Minister seized on Newspoll's finding that 78 per cent of respondents believed climate change was real.

“What today's poll shows - and I don't normally comment on polls - but I'll say this if you look at today's poll it shows clearly that Australians believe climate change is real,” Ms Gillard said in Sydney.

“That's a pretty big contrast with Mr Abbott, who has said in the past it is absolute crap.”

She said she understood major reform made people anxious, but the public would soon have better information upon which to judge the plan.

“In the middle of this year we will be able to give everyone full details of how the carbon pricing system will work,” she said.

“They will be able to sit at their kitchen table and work out all of the dollars and cents for them.”

Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said plummeting support for the carbon tax was “Labor's own handiwork”.

“The Australian people are smart,” he said.

“They look at a carbon tax and they say, yes, that means higher costs for me and everyday life. And the Australian people can see through the Labor Party. This is all of the Labor Party's making.”

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