For months now we have been told and specifically by Tony Abbott that once in power he will “ditch” the carbon tax, loudly bleating that he wants a new election. This clearly is not going to happen, and why should it as there is certainly nothing to be gained for anyone – no benefit for the government who needs all the time it can get to enact it’s reforms – no benefit for the Independents who would lose their positions of influence should the LNP form government – not the Greens who as they are fully aware, are unlikely to have any joy in trying to negotiate with an Abbott-led government. And there may indeed be those in the Liberal Party who would like some extra time as well, and Turnbull and Hockey come to mind.
Today an article by Tom Arup looks at a discussion paper by the Australia Institute of possible scenarios as to how a potential Abbott-led government could “ditch” the carbon tax. As a starting point it is highly unlikely that the Greens would negotiate with Abbott to remove the carbon tax. In June Bob Brown stated categorically, in fact a “rolled gold guarantee” that he would protect the carbon tax all the way. Here we are also assuming that the Greens would retain their position in the Senate following a election, my own reasoning being that Australians tend not to want all power to reside with one political party by having control of both houses of parliament.
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has said on several occasions he would take the country to a double dissolution poll – sparking a joint sitting of the lower and upper house of Parliament and likely to give the Coalition the numbers needed to dump the tax – if required. The Coalition disputes the institute’s suggestions. The opposition spokesman on climate action, Greg Hunt, said: ”This issue will be resolved well before 2016. Labor will risk its political future if it ignores the will of the people at the election.
However and of course, if Abbott decided to hold yet another election by producing somewhere along the way a DD there again is absolutely no guarantee that this subsequent election would hand Abbott power in the Senate. The Australia Institute on the other hand argues that:
…it could take until 2018 for the Coalition’s direct action policy to fully come into effect and begin reducing emissions, if dumping the carbon tax is held back until 2016.
”As the length of time around the uncertainty [on carbon pricing] grows, so does the cost,” the report says. ”If the Coalition pursues its current commitments to roll back the carbon price this could lead to five or more years of uncertainty followed by more uncertainty on a post-2020 emissions reduction mechanism,” the report says.
A senior economist at the Australia Institute, Matt Grudnoff, said draft carbon price legislation released by Labor had been ”proofed” to ensure the industry’s obligation to pay the carbon tax – due to begin in the middle of next year – cannot be removed without new legislation.
The Coalition would have to work through several years of parliamentary process to build a double dissolution election trigger to dump the carbon tax via a joint-sitting of Parliament and replace it with its direct action climate change policy.”
And Tony Abbott’s response?
Mr Abbott has warned industry not to buy the permits because a Coalition government would not honour them.
No surprises there and probably typical of Abbott’s attitude, in fact it doesn’t take too much of a cynic to ponder the implications of the words “honour” and Tony Abbott in the same sentence.
Update from Australia Network News: A spokeswoman for one of the venues hosting a truck protest in the Australian capital Canberra says only 200 vehicles have arrived when around 3,000 were expected.