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Carbon plan ‘brilliant’

Thursday, 14th July, 2011

SHOWING THE WAY: Prime Minister Julia Gillard looks to the heavens during a visit to the Rochedale Renewable Energy Facility in Brisbane yesterday. SHOWING THE WAY: Prime Minister Julia Gillard looks to the heavens during a visit to the Rochedale Renewable Energy Facility in Brisbane yesterday.

Barrier Industrial Council President Danny O’Connor yesterday railed against the “unfair criticism” being leveled at Prime Minister Julia Gillard over the proposed carbon tax.

And Mr O’Connor described Opposition leader Tony Abbott as “clueless” when it comes to the Liberal Party’s solution to climate change.

“What Julia Gillard has done will be remembered as one of the bravest decisions ever made by an Australian political leader,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The Prime Minister has courageously set a necessary path for the future of this great country.

“So for Tony Abbott and the Opposition to sit back and criticise her without offering their own solution smacks of political opportunism.

“When are we going to hear Abbott’s plans? All Tony Abbot and local member, Sussan Ley can offer as a carbon reduction plan is to plant more trees. What a joke.

“In all the years they were in government they never planted one tree. That in itself explains their action plan and lack of leadership,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Government’s carbon tax is scheduled to start from July 1, 2012 and is expected to raise about $24.5 billion over three years.

About $15.3 billion will be given back to workers as tax cuts, household energy efficiency measures and welfare payments. The rest will be used to support jobs and help industry transition, and on other green programs.

“On average, the carbon tax is expected to cost one in 10 families a little over $500 per year which is a lot less than we all pay for the Liberal Party-inspired GST,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Tony Abbot and Sussan Ley both enthusiastically voted for the GST when it was introduced by the Howard government and it is a tax that has affected Australian business and family budgets like no other tax.

“Every day, every month, every year the cost of the GST has an impact on families, so it is a bit rich for Tony Abbott and the Opposition to be out there criticising a carbon tax.

“In reality it isn’t even a tax - it is a price on carbon - and after three years it converts to an emissions trading scheme, whereas we’ll all be paying GST for the rest of our lives,” Mr O’Connor continued.

Estimates from the Treasury Department suggest that prices across the whole economy will only rise by 0.7 per cent, much less than under the GST.

To help people understand the new regime a user-friendly website - www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au - has been set up and by answering a few simple questions everyone is able to calculate what effect the new system will have for their specific circumstances.

“I’d recommend everyone take advantage of this website to help cut through the rhetoric from the critics and understand the true effects of a price on carbon,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The community feedback suggests that people really don’t understand this issue because there is not enough information readily available to the general public, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing.

“Let’s not forget that what the Gillard government has done is listen to the people of Australia - who have clearly indicated they want something done about climate change - and had the guts to make some hard decisions.

“There are even bipartisan agreements in the parliament to increase renewable energy and reduce carbon pollution by five per cent (below 2000 levels) by 2020.

“But what we haven’t heard from the Opposition is how they are going to achieve that.

“All we have heard so far is negative complaints from Mr Abbott and his team which amounts to nothing more than a scare campaign,” Mr O’Connor added.

“If they are serious about providing a future for their kids - and their children’s kids - then where is their plan?”

The Prime Minister has said that four million lower income earners would be better off and nine out of 10 households will get aid next year to offset the $23 per tonne carbon tax on the nation’s 500 biggest polluters.

“What the government has done is brilliant,” Mr O’Connor said.

“They have brought in a remedy for climate change that people have been demanding and at a minimal cost.

“In contrast, the Liberal Party initially agreed to the idea under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership and then sacked him and changed their direction,” Mr O’Connor continued.

“Until we get a clear indication from the Liberals on what their plans are I wouldn’t be paying too much attention to their negative input on such an important matter.”

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