In a move which will anger environmentalists, but please business leaders, the Federal Government has announced that the carbon tax will be replaced by an emissions trading scheme (ETS).
While this is not new policy, it was planned to move to an ETS in 2015, it has brought forward by one year the end of the controversial carbon tax. The ETS will see the country’s largest polluters no longer charged the fixed price of $24.15 per tonne of carbon produced, but will instead be subject to a much lower floating price of what is thought to be between $6 and $10 per tonne. Under an ETS, businesses are able to trade emissions permits, the price of which is determined by market forces.
By removing the fixed price for carbon pollution, the government is essentially giving up a source of revenue, which was to be used to reinvest in cleaner energy sources and of course, carbon tax compensation packages. As the Treasurer, Chris Bowen, has announced that these family assistance packages will remain in place, he has advised that cuts will come from elsewhere. “We understand very much the cost-of-living concerns in the community,” he said. “We understand that deeply, and any revenue decisions we make will have that front of mind. I think that will be clear when we announce the details in coming days.”
Greens leader Christine Milne has called the move “cowardly”. Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program yesterday, she said that Kevin Rudd has made clear his preference to make it cheaper for the big polluters, rather than act to protect the environment, “Kevin Rudd is a fake on climate change”, she said.
Tony Abbott must be scratching his head wondering how his job became so much more difficult when a government in turmoil opted to once again change its leader. Like it or not, the rebirth of Kevin Rudd is changing the political landscape in the lead-up to the next Federal Election, whenever that may be.
Kevin Rudd has grabbed Labor’s poisoned chalice and has decided if he’s going down, he’s going down fighting. He is systematically slashing each one of Tony Abbott’s policies, of which there are few, and leaving the Coalition leader with hardly a leg to stand on. Rudd’s latest party broadcast subtly highlights Mr Abbott’s penchant for saying no and say no he has. No, to debating the economic issues which the country and its voters want to hear debated.
One of the Coalition’s policies was to repeal the carbon tax – sorry Tony, Kevin beat you to it. Not only will the carbon tax go, but families will also keep their compensation payments. And yes, there will be cuts elsewhere, but the Government has remained on the front foot by announcing these cuts will come. Tony Abbott’s response to the announcement was, “It’s just another Kevin con job. You will still pay and it will still hurt.”
Another policy was to stop the boats. Good luck with that one Tony. Once you work it out perhaps you want to share your solution with every other western country in the world which is battling with the issue of illegal immigrants.
Fairfax polls today show that Kevin Rudd has eradicated every advantage Tony Abbott had over Julia Gillard, with Labor now neck and neck with the Coalition on a two party preferred basis. But in the Prime Minister stakes, Kevin is surging ahead, with 55 per cent of voters giving him the nod as preferred PM, as opposed to 41 per cent for the Opposition leader.
Even his own party is starting to rumble about the possibility of Tony not being the right man to lead it to the next election. Malcolm Turnbull told the Nine Network’s Financial Review Sunday, “There are a lot of people out there who would rather I was leading the Liberal Party; it is ridiculous to deny that that’s not happening.” But he has so far ruled out having a tilt at the leadership.
While Kevin may simply be enjoying a honeymoon period at the helm of what was previously seen to be a sinking ship, it appears that Tony Abbott may need to buckle up for what may prove to be a considerably bumpier ride than he was expecting.
Should the Opposition look to Malcolm Turnbull to take over as leader and lead it to the next election? Or does Tony have what it takes to see off Kevin Rudd’s challenge?