20 March 2014 (AAP) – The Abbott government has failed in its first bid to scrap the carbon tax, with the Senate refusing to pass a package of bills to repeal the Gillard-era climate change policy.
After three months of debate, the package of nine bills was finally put to a vote in the upper house today only to be swiftly rebuffed by Labor and the Australian Greens.
The result prompted cries of “shame’’ from the Liberal benches, but there was little real emotion on either side.
Labor said it couldn’t support the repeal if it was to be replaced by the government’s direct action plan.
“Without a credible alternative, Labor cannot support the abolition of the existing clean energy policies,’’ shadow climate change spokesman Mark Butler said in a statement.
The opposition is standing by its support of an emissions trading scheme, which under existing legislation isn’t due to begin until July 2015.
Tony Abbott vowed to push on with the scrappingof the carbon tax and said Labor was breaking its commitment to remove the tax.
“The carbon tax is an act of economic vandalism,’’ the Prime Minister told question time.
“You can’t trust (Labor) anywhere near an economy.’’
Greens leader Christine Milne said a price on carbon would be essential for Australia’s future and it was time the government dropped its expensive alternative for reducing emissions.
“Tony Abbott should now abandon the so-called direct action plan, which is little more than a slogan,’’ she said in a statement.
Environment groups congratulated the Senate, urging it to use this as a chance to negotiate with the government on a climate change policy that puts a price on pollution.
The government had been trying to pass the carbon tax repeal bills as a matter of priority since December, but every attempt to force a vote was rejected by a hostile Senate. [more]