As both sides of politics argue whether or not an emissions trading scheme is a tax, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has labelled it something else – “an electricity tax scam”.
Commenting after this weekend’s ALP national conference endorsed pursuing an ETS and a 50 per cent renewable energy target in government, Mr Abbott said Labor’s electricity tax scam would hit consumers for decades.
“Then you’ve got this massive and unnecessary commitment to renewables which will cause a massive overbuild of wind farms, all of which has to be paid for by the consumers,” he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
Federal Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has given the government fresh ammunition to portray the opposition’s plans for an emissions trading scheme as another carbon tax.
The ALP national conference has endorsed leader Bill Shorten’s plan to take forward an ETS to the next federal election along with an ambitious target for Australia to be produce 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.
Mr Shorten told the conference on Friday “an ETS is not a tax” and he was happy to take on the coalition on climate change policy. Mr Fitzgibbon says he doesn’t care if people describe it as tax.
“It’s a price. I don’t care if people call it a tax. If they want to run a scare campaign, fine,” he told Network Ten program The Bolt Report on Sunday.
If the former Labor government’s fixed carbon pricing scheme had been left to become a floating one the price of carbon would be around $10 a tonne, Mr Fitzgibbon argued.
“And that would have virtually no impact on consumers,” he added. The party’s agriculture spokesmand also said the 2030 renewable energy target was an “aspiration” and no-one yet knew how much it would cost.
“Technology is changing so rapidly … we don’t know how cheaply you might get to 50 per cent,” he said. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Mr Fitzgibbon had made an extraordinary admission.
“A Labor frontbencher has now confirmed that if elected, Labor will introduce a carbon tax – no ifs, no buts,” he said in a statement.
“This admission has all the hallmarks of Julia Gillard’s confession that the former Labor government had also introduced a carbon tax after promising not to.” Mr Hunt called on Labor to release its modelling on the impact of the ETS on power prices.