Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Carbon Price Announcement on Sunday

AUSTRALIANS will learn how the proposed carbon tax will hit their back pockets when the federal government unveils its policy on pricing pollution on Sunday.

The announcement comes 136 days after Labor, the Australian Greens and two independent MPs first formed the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) to investigate carbon pricing.

"This weekend the Gillard Government plans to announce a price on pollution as the central element of a comprehensive policy to tackle climate change, cut pollution and drive the transformation of the Australian economy to a clean energy future," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement on Monday.

"After hearing a report on the discussions of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, Cabinet agreed tonight that sufficient progress had been made to allow an announcement date to be set for Sunday 10 July 2011."

Ms Gillard said talks between MPCCC members during recent weeks had been fruitful.

The committee comprises Ms Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, Greens senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne, and independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

"While there will be additional discussions with the MPCCC this week, followed by further Cabinet consideration, it is expected that the remaining details will be finalised in these discussions ahead of Sunday's announcement," Ms Gillard said.

The scheme will start with a fixed price on carbon emissions on July 1, 2012, followed by an emissions trading scheme with a flexible price and an emissions target starting three years later.

The news comes after Ms Gillard revealed on Sunday that the carbon tax would not be placed on fuel for cars and light industrial vehicles.

The prime minister said Mr Windsor had been influential in that development, which blunts Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's argument that a carbon tax would increase petrol prices for motorists.

But Mr Abbott and other coalition MPs questioned the government in parliament on whether trucks, buses and boats would be exempt from the carbon tax, and how long the exemption would exist.

The impending announcement of the carbon policy was a great relief, Ms Milne said.

"Now at least we are in a position to be able to go out there and deliver on what we said we'd deliver at the time we signed the agreement with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, saying we would have a multi-party climate committee, that it would deliver a carbon price mechanism and that the emissions trading scheme would begin on July 1, 2012," Ms Milne said.

But the Greens senator would not reveal any details about the carbon price.

Ms Gillard said last week nine out of 10 households would receive tax cuts or rises in benefits, and the three million lowest paid households would be over-compensated for increases in their cost of living due to the carbon tax.

Opposition Environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the government's announcement of its carbon price policy at the start of the five week winter break from parliament was a "cynical move".

"It is deliberately running away from the parliament and it is deliberately running away from scrutiny," he told AAP.

Mr Hunt said the government would not give the full impact on the costs of living up to 2020 on Sunday.

"The only thing that matters is the full impact on electricity prices, gas prices, on grocery prices, on general cost of living between now and 2020 because each year, every year the carbon tax is going to go up and up and up."

Commenting before Ms Gillard's announcement, Mr Abbott said a coalition government would finance its $10.5 billion carbon emission reduction scheme from Budget savings and not from an imposed tax.


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