TONY Abbott will try to crash through on his signature policy, declaring he wants the carbon tax done and dusted by Christmas to save households up to $ 550 annually.
But the Prime Minister yesterday stopped short of guaranteeing the savings from next financial year and instead said he was “confident” there would be a “significant reduction” with the competition watchdog monitoring power prices.
In the latest bid to pressure new Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Mr Abbott defied speculation he may wait until a friendlier upper house begins on July 1 next year and said he wanted the Senate to vote on the legislation before parliament rose for the year.
“Yes, but I’m only the Prime Minister,” Mr Abbott said, laughing when asked if he wanted a Senate vote before Christmas. “I realise the Senate operates in accordance with its own rhythms and patterns.”
“This is very important legislation – designed to do the right thing by Australian families and to boost the competitiveness of Australian business.”
Draft laws for the carbon tax repeal released yesterday showed it would not be retrospective and run until June 30 next year, meaning senator-in-waiting Clive Palmer would be required to pay a $ 6.2 million bill for his private company, Queensland Nickel. He declined to comment.
The draft states the government will not help businesses locked into affected contracts, leaving them, like with the introduction of the tax, to be worked out between the parties.
New powers for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission include banning “carbon tax-related price exploitation”, falsely claiming about the effect of the repeal on goods or services and new powers to monitor prices six months before and one year after the repeal.
But shadow climate change spokesman Mark Butler gave no indication Labor would support the laws, saying Mr Abbott was tacking Australia backwards against a global trend.
“We won’t back down on acting on climate change – or agree to a policy that increases carbon emissions while slugging the Australian taxpayer,” he said.
The PM said the ACCC had done a good job monitoring the introduction of the GST and the linked abolition of the wholesale tax, saying they would do similar with new powers so power bills dropped by an “estimated” 9 per cent and gas bills by 7 per cent.
“I am confident that we will get a significant reduction in power prices as result of the abolition of the carbon tax,” he said.
Public consultation for the draft laws will end on November 4.
Mr Abbott confirmed he wanted to parliament to return on November 11 pending the writs being returned which are currently held up due to recounting in Mr Palmer’s seat of Fairfax.
But Greens Leader Christine Milne said the short consultation period was a “joke” to consider the costs of not taking action on global warming.
“The true costs of not acting on global warming are the even more devastating fires, droughts and heatwaves that are happening now and will worsen over the next half century,” she said.
THE COALTION’S PLAN: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
When will the carbon tax legislation be introduced into federal parliament?
Probably November 12, the first proper sitting day of the new parliament after the likely opening on November 11. Tony Abbott yesterday said he wanted the laws voted on by the Senate before parliament rose for the year.
What are the obstacles?
The current Senate, in place until June 30, is left-leaning, with Labor and the Greens able to block any legislation together.
What is Labor’s position?
Bill Shorten has declared the party opposes the Coalition’s plan but says a final decision will made by the Labor caucus once the legislation is finalised. There is speculation Labor may abstain from the vote in the Senate, allowing the laws’ passage but not formally voting for it to avoid any double dissolution on a policy area which was toxic at the recent poll.
Can the Coalition wait?
They can wait for the new Senate to start on July 1 next year when it will have a friendlier, right-wing flavour. But this could be problematic as the draft laws are supposed to begin on July 1. The government has said it will not extend the tax beyond June 30 next year, even if the repeal bills are not passed.
If passed, how much will the repeal laws save me?
The Coalition says it will save average households $ 550 annually from July 1 next year. This includes $ 200 for the average power bill and $ 70 for the average gas bill. Labor and the Greens say the repeal risks the environment and the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan will put a tax a $ 1200 tax burden on households instead.
Is the Coalition financial saving a promise?
Kind of. The Prime Minister would not guarantee it despite touting the figures when pushed yesterday but says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will ensure a “significant reduction”.
How will the changes impact businesses already locked into contracts?
The government says, like the introduction of the tax, contracts have nothing to do with it and will have to be renegotiated between commercial parties.
Do the laws do anything else?
The Climate Change Authority will be abolished. The repeal will also stop the second round of personal income tax cuts that were legislated to commence on 1 July 2015 given there would be no tax to require the compensation.