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every Senator around this table understands what has just been said. It is a serious breach that a senator in this Parliament is being spied on in that way as they go

about the proper conduct of their duties. No-one in this place is ever going to accept that. It is not proper for me to proceed with this now. Obviously, I have to raise it

as a matter of privilege, but I hope you, Mr President, understand the significance of what we have just heard”.

At this point, the committee THIRD READING: AUSTRALIA

Carbon Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Act 2014 On 17 July 2014 the Australian Parliament abolished the carbon tax that was introduced by the then Gillard Labor Government in July 2012. The carbon tax has and continues to polarize the Australian community. Since its introduction, the Liberal/National Coalition has vowed to removed it and replace it with a “direct action” policy to address climate change. During the 2013 election the then Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, vowed that the first piece of legislation introduced by his government would be to repeal the Carbon Tax. On 13 November 2013 Mr Abbott fulfilled this commitment by introducing the Carbon Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and related Bills. These Bills were defeated in the Senate but not for long. In July, new Senators elected at the 7 September 2013 Federal election and the Western Australian senate election on 5 April took up their positions in the Senate. There were now sufficient Senators willing to vote against the carbon tax. Prime Minister Abbott stated that “the Australian people pronounced their judgement against the Carbon Tax. They want it gone and this Bill delivers. It delivers on the coalition’s commitment to the Australian people to scrap this toxic tax”. Mr Abbott noted that “the first impact of this Bill will be on households whose overall costs will fall by about $550 a year on average. Because of this Bill, household electricity bills will be around $200 lower next financial year without the Carbon Tax. Household gas bills will be about $70 lower next financial year without the Carbon Tax. Prices for groceries, for household items for services will fall, because the price of power is embedded in every price in our economy”.

Mr Abbott argued that the Carbon Tax made it more difficult for Australian business to compete internationally. Mr Abbott stated that “the Carbon Tax acts as a reverse tariff. Not only does the Carbon Tax make it more difficult for Australian businesses to compete abroad; it makes it more difficult for domestic businesses to compete at home, because there is no carbon tax on imports”.

Labor’s policy is to remove the Carbon Tax but move to an emissions trading scheme. In relation to this point, Mr Abbott stated that “no-one should be in any doubt – the government is repealing the Carbon Tax in full. We are doing what we were elected to do. Others have said that they would terminate the Carbon Tax, but they were only renaming it. Well, we are not renaming it; we are abolishing the Carbon Tax in full”.

In addressing climate change, Mr Abbott stated that “we will scrap the Carbon Tax and then proceed with our direct action plan. The centrepiece of this direct action plan will be the Emissions Reduction Fund, a market-based mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, a fund that provides a powerful and direct additional incentive for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The $2.55 billion fund will use positive incentives to reduce Australia’s emissions and it will prioritize cost-effective targeted

means to do so. It is an incentive-based approach that will support Australian businesses and households to lower their energy costs at the same time as reducing Australia’s emissions. It will see us plant more trees, get more carbon captured in soils, clean up power stations and use smarter technology”. The Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Hon. Mark Butler, MP, supported the termination of the Carbon Tax and its replacement with an emissions trading scheme that has a formal, legal cap on carbon pollution. Mr Butler noted that the government’s legislation does more than just abolish the Carbon Tax, it “will also abolish any chance of Australia having a formal legal cap on carbon pollution and any chance to move to an emissions trading scheme”. Mr Butler disputed the Prime Minister’s claim that emissions trading schemes are being discarded rather than adopted. Mr Butler responded that “the only nation that is seeking to discard a carbon trading scheme is this one, under this government”.

One of Mr Abbott’s long term criticisms of the Carbon Tax is that it would act like a “wrecking ball” through the Australian economy. Mr Butler disputed this noting that in the first 12 months of its operation, over 160 000 jobs were created. In addition, Mr Butler noted that “we saw a reduction in carbon pollution of around seven per cent in the National Electricity Market in the first 12 months and, as we predicted, there was simply a modest impact on prices. That impact was more than covered through our household assistance package, particularly for low-income and fixed-income households, like pensioners, and for middle-income households”.

The Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, stated that “a vote for the abolition of the clean energy package is a vote for failure because it is a recognition that this Parliament does not want to face up to the four to six degrees of warming, which is the trajectory we are on as a planet. They do not want to face up to what is inter-generational theft, because a planet facing the warming that we are now being subjected to, and will be subjected to, is a planet experiencing the sixth extinction crisis. It will be a planet suffering rising sea levels. It will be a planet suffering food security crises and it will be a nation, Australia, failing to play our role in global negotiations. We will be a global pariah as the rest of the world moves to try to secure a treaty in 2015 to give people on this planet a chance of survival in the face of a climate emergency”.

Senator the Hon. Lisa Singh, Labor Senator for Tasmania, stated that “this is a fundamental moment in Australia’s history. We are about to devastate the future of this country. We are about to take this country backwards in droves through the mindless ideological bent of the coalition. Australia today will be a laughing stock to the rest of the world. We are sending this country backwards – and all for what? For playing politics: playing politics with Australia’s future, playing politics with our environment and playing politics with our children. It is an outrageous moment in Australia’s history when the coalition are sending this nation backwards”.

The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 207

met privately and sought advice from the Clerk of the Senate Dr Rosemary Laing. In written advice to Senator Faulkner she reviewed the policy on the

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