UPDATED 1pm: AUSTRALIA has become the first country in the world to abolish a price on carbon, after two weeks of Senate negotiations with the crossbench.
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) congratulated the government, saying the carbon tax was an unnecessary cost impost on Australian farm businesses, agricultural input suppliers and food processors.
“Australian agriculture is breathing a sigh of relief now the tax has finally been abolished,” NFF president Brent Finlay said.
While the ag sector was excluded from directly paying the tax, it was passed on to the bottom line of farm businesses via increased input costs, he said.
“Carbon tax flow-on costs hit Australian farmers every time they paid for essential electricity, fertiliser, chemical and fuel supplies. Rather than promoting Australian farm competitiveness, the tax dampened the sector’s efforts to grow and increase productivity,” Mr Finlay said.
“Australian agriculture already plays a crucial role in reducing emissions. To enable our sector to continue to play this role—and remain viable at the same time—the right policy settings must be in place.”
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the carbon pricing scheme had caused major headaches for primary producers, pointing to a 400 per cent increase in the price of some refrigerant gases as a significant impost.
“Have a look at the dairy industry – Murray Goulburn, because of the price of their power (and) refrigerant requirements, pay about $14 million a year (in carbon tax)," he said.
Mr Joyce also singled out the fishing industry as another hit hard by passed-on costs, but "more than that... the people who are already doing it tough on the land, everything they do, from when they wake up in the morning, they pay this tax".
“If they put on the kettle to make a cup of tea, they pay the tax; when they put on bacon and eggs, they pay the tax; when they open the fridge and see the little white light, that’s to remind them they’re paying the tax through the night," he said.
“When they get down to the shed and start welding something up, they’re paying the tax; when they turn on the shearing gear and it’s run by power, they’re paying the tax.
Mr Joyce said it was "absolutely fundamental" that the major power generators be responsible for carbon pricing, rather than passing it down the lines to "mum, dad and the kids".
“I think we should look for a genuine global consensus, rather than just ‘discussing’ what everyone’s going to do.”
Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said scrapping the scheme would take direct pressure off families, make Australian businesses competitive again and help create jobs in the long term.
“In regional areas it has added to the cost of everything we do, it has made our farm and mining exports less competitive and added to the input costs of virtually every local business – small, medium and large," he said.
Mr Truss said off-road diesel users outside the agriculture and forestry sectors - including diesel-powered trains and coastal shipping - will now save 6.521 cents a litre as a result of the tax repeal.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent an email to supporters at 11.30am saying: "This is great news for Australian families and for our nation’s small businesses", and predicting the scrapping of the tax will save the average family $550 a year in power bills.
In keeping with the Coalition's election policy, the ACCC has been given the funding and power to ensure that savings are passed on to consumers.
Greens Senator Penny Wright tweeted her regret at the news, saying: "Dear children & grandchildren, I am sorry. We did our very best" - a sentiment echoed by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).
"The Abbott government and crossbench Senators who voted today to get rid of the carbon price have left Australia with no comprehensive scheme to cut the pollution that is causing global warming," the ACF said in a statement.
"They will need to explain to their children and grandchildren why they voted this way."
Professor Roger Jones, research fellow in the Institute of Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University, called the scheme's repeal "the perfect storm of stupidity".
"It’s hard to imagine a more effective combination of poor reasoning and bad policy making - (this shows) a complete disregard of the science of climate change and its impacts," he said.