Australia’s newly elected prime minister pulled no punches when giving his thoughts on the country’s carbon tax, which he says must be abolished as quickly as possible.
“The carbon tax is bad for the economy and it doesn’t do any good for the environment,” Abbott told The Washington Post. “Despite a carbon tax of $37 a ton by 2020, Australia’s domestic emissions were going up, not down. The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism, and that’s why it’s going to get abolished.”
“If the Labor Party wants to give the people of Australia a Christmas present, they will vote to abolish the carbon tax. It was damaging the economy without helping the environment. It was a stupid tax. A misconceived tax,” Abbott added.
Australia’s liberal Labor Party received a crippling blow in the recent elections, as Abbott’s conservative coalition garnered enough votes to create the largest ruling coalition in the country since 2004. Conservatives rode in on a wave of widespread disapproval of the previous government’s handling of the economy, including the imposition of a carbon tax in the summer of 2012.
“We’ve got an overwhelming majority of scientists telling us our planet needs to do this,” said former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who implemented the tax. “Are you really going to be the one who bets that the vast majority of them are wrong with something as important as the planet’s future?”
However, the tax quickly began to impact families and the economy. The carbon tax increased taxes on 2.2 million people and did nothing to decrease carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study by Dr. Alex Robson, economist at Australia’s University of Brisbane. The study was conducted for the Institute for Energy Research, which opposes a carbon tax.
News Limited Network reported in March that the tax was contributing to a record 10,632 businesses facing insolvency in 2012 — up from 10,481 for 2011.
The country’s hospitals were also affected. The Herald Sun reports that Victoria provincial hospitals spent an extra $6.1 million in energy costs in just six months due to the carbon tax. The carbon tax made up 8-22 percent of the hospitals’ total energy costs.
In the face of heated opposition to the tax and growing support for Abbott’s push to abolish it, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attempted to woo voters by moving away from a carbon tax to a cap-and-trade system with a floating price on carbon.
“The government is moving in this direction because a floating price takes cost-of-living pressures off Australian families and still protects the environment and acts on climate change,” Rudd told reporters. “We have still got a fair bit of budget work to do, as this has to be a budget-neutral undertaking.”
“The previous government would often say the right thing but it would invariably do the wrong thing when it came to business,” Abbott told the Post. “There was an explosion in red tape and green tape… It was a government which thought that there was no problem that more public servants, higher taxes and further regulation couldn’t fix.”
Abbott’s coalition will face stiff resistance from the Labor Party as they push forward with dismantling liberal environmental policies.
“Labor stands by its election commitment to support the termination of the carbon tax provided that a market-based mechanism that reduces carbon pollution is put in its place, along with a strong commitment to expanding renewable energy,” said Mark Butler, the Labor Party’s acting climate change spokesman.
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