Gillard on 'right side of history' with carbon tax

Carbon tax bills introduced as Gillard tells MPs to be "on the right side of history" and support reform

Gillard on 'right side of history' with carbon tax
Gillard on 'right side of history' with carbon tax

By Brad Gardner | September 14, 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has challenged MPs to be "on the right side of history" in supporting her government’s push to mandate a carbon tax.

As the government introduced bills into Parliament yesterday to establish a $23 per tonne price on carbon from July 1 next year, Gillard told MPs they would be judged in future on where they stood "on the great issues of our national debate".

In arguing for the need to curb emissions and drive investment in clean energy technology, Gillard told her colleagues they needed to do what was right for the country or leave Parliament.

"The final test is: are you on the right side of history?" she asked.

"It is time to deliver the action on climate change we need. It is time to do what is best for Australian families, what is best for future generations, what is best for this country."

The carbon tax, which will apply to about 500 companies when it begins, will operate under a fixed price for three years before shifting to a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015. The tax will rise from $23 to $24.15 in 2013 and then $25.40 in 2014.

Most of the revenue collected from the tax will be poured into household assistance and the government will more than triple the tax-free threshold from $6000 to $18,200 on July 1 next year.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says the science is clear on human-induced global warming and that pricing carbon is the cheapest and most effective means of cutting emissions.

"The time for inaction has long passed – it is now time for this parliament to show leadership and to take action on climate change," he says.

Combet accused the Opposition, which vows to rescind the carbon tax if it wins office, of whipping up unfounded fears in the community about the reform.

"All that the Liberal Party and the National Party are prepared to engage in on this fundamental issue of economic and environmental reform is misinformation and deceit," he says.

Abbott has labelled the carbon tax "toxic" and claims it will threaten business viability and employment.

"I think that the more people understand about the carbon tax the less they like it. The message is coming through in a gathering crescendo from the Australian public: this is a bad tax based on a lie," he says.

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) claims the starting price is too high when compared with the European Union’s scheme and the start date remains a concern.

"Given the volatile and uncertain domestic and global economic climate and the lack of an international consensus on action to address climate change, the timing of the introduction of the carbon tax could hardly be worse," Ai Group CEO Heather Ridout says.

"In this environment the risks of imposing damaging costs on Australian industry are amplified."

The Ai Group wants a low starting price of no more than $10.

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