Carbon tax repeal passes Senate

17 Jul, 2014 09:45 AM
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Australian agriculture is breathing a sigh of relief now the tax has finally been abolished

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.

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READER COMMENTS

Albert Einstein
17/07/2014 12:27:31 PM

Good show and the winners will be, all plant life on planet earth and all other life that eats or needs those plants. And the losers will be, the greedy and powerful who want to tax and control the worlds energy plus a few cranks that were sucked in by the global warming hysteria.
John from Tamworth
17/07/2014 1:12:42 PM

A great day for freedom and democracy.
argis
17/07/2014 3:17:28 PM

Between Albert and JFT, it has all been said that needs to be said.
suzanne
17/07/2014 3:25:11 PM

Great to see the editor's photo of power generators puffing out what they no doubt have always wanted people to believe was "nasty CO2 pollution", but which is really just water vapour in the main. The real issue is that for the billions of dollars ripped out of our business, our taxpayers and our economy, absolutely no drop in temperature has occurred! Good riddance to the most ridiculous, most wasteful tax, ever..
Tom
17/07/2014 3:30:43 PM

Finally the greatest farce in Australia's political history is over. All the green extremists can go taking a running jump!!!!
Bazza
17/07/2014 5:30:58 PM

We can all now expect the price of everything to now drop by at least 5% and new businesses to begin operating and for new jobs to be offered and for pigs to start flying. This is what the coalition promised. If it doesn't than we can all say the outrage over it impacts by the coalition were overstated.
X
17/07/2014 6:16:56 PM

Minimalist Government- keep it coming !
Frank Blunt
18/07/2014 7:46:52 AM

Baz, it doesn't matter diddly squat if prices go down, stay the same, or go up. It's irrelevant to the whole matter. The only thing that matters is a tax has gone that was based on a lie and fraud.
Frank Blunt
18/07/2014 8:02:42 AM

And Baz, show me where the coalition promised pigs will start to fly?
Dan D-S
18/07/2014 9:55:21 AM

We would always have had a better solution with the ETS John Howard promised.
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