FEDERAL Labor is defiantly sticking with its policy to have a price on carbon and gearing up for a new clash with the Coalition over the best way to tackle climate change.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he would not be “bullied” by the Government and announced shadow Cabinet will keep Kevin Rudd’s election policy.
But the Government said the September 7 poll had been a referendum on the carbon tax and voters wanted it to be abolished.
Labor’s decision makes it almost certain the tax will not be abolished before July 1 and increases the possibility of a double dissolution election.
Mr Shorten said Labor would vote to “terminate” the fixed carbon tax of $ 24.15 a tonne on June 30, 2014 – which is identical to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pledge.
But Mr Shorten said Labor would move amendments to keep an emissions trading system from July 1 – where the market sets the price on carbon with a cap on the amount of pollution allowed.
This brings forward by one year the scheme negotiated between Julia Gillard, the Greens and independents.
Mr Abbott’s laws would abolish this system completely.
The Coalition would have a $ 3.2 billion “Direct Action” plan to plant trees and fund pollution reduction schemes.
“We believe the best, most cost-effective way to deal with carbon pollution is an emissions trading scheme,” Mr Shorten said.
“Labor will never be a rubber stamp for Tony Abbott. We accept the science of climate change, Tony Abbott doesn’t.”
“We won’t be bullied and I won’t be bullied by Tony Abbott merely because he doesn’t accept thew science of climate change.”
Mr Abbott has attacked Mr Shorten as “Electricity Bill” and “Bill Shock”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Mr Shorten was ignoring the election result.
“Mr Shorten is voting to keep the carbon tax, but just wants to change its name,” he said.
“Electricity Bill is living up to his name. Mr Shorten will be responsible for Australians paying higher electricity prices.”
Mr Shorten said it was a unanimous decision by the shadow cabinet.
He said Labor would “oppose the Government’s repeal legislation in line with our long-held principled position to act on climate change to build a modern economy”.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said business was disappointed the political brawling over climate policy would continue and “delaying the inevitable achieves nothing”.
“We’ve had a lot of political upheaval over climate policy in the past few years, and disappointingly it looks like we’ll see more,” Mr Willox said.
He called on political parties to work together to remove the tax and agree on how to meet targets to reduce pollution at least cost to the nation.