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Carbon tax decision puts voters' wallets before the environment

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Carbon caper heats up

Labor moves to neutralise the Coalition's carbon pricing attack with a raft of changes, but Tony Abbott says it's just more con.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's decision to dump the fixed price on carbon was always going to be made based on politics rather than policy.

In that sense it is smart politics.

The policy - and politics - of carbon pricing have dogged the federal government since 2010 when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott demolished former prime minister Julia Gillard's credibility by constantly calling her a liar.

What was an electoral plus for Labor in 2007 was a big minus three years later.

As soon as Mr Rudd regained the prime ministership in late June he indicated the fixed price phase was as good as gone.

He wanted to neutralise the issue as soon as possible and this is what he has done.

Tuesday's announcement comes after the government had already coasted on 48 hours of media coverage confirming its decision (without providing any details).

All it said on Sunday - after leaking the story to select newspapers - was that the fixed price phase would be shorter than originally planned and that the household assistance package would stay.

That was confirmed on Tuesday, but it was also accompanied by the details about where the $3.8 billion would come from to keep the budget's equilibrium.

Such a big figure suggests the government would be scrambling to try and find further savings should it make good on its signals to fix other problematic policy areas.

It should certainly make people who want something done to increase the unemployment payment, Newstart, less optimistic.

It also raises the question of where the money would come from if the government does, as it has indicated it will, offer some kind of solution to the issue of the 84,000 sole parents whose payments were cut earlier this year.

The areas where the carbon policy savings are coming from are another indication that this is about politics not policy - scrapping of fringe benefit tax arrangements for cars and about $1 billion in practical environmental programs such as biodiversity and assistance for farmers.

Environment groups have been calling for years for the major parties to reconsider tax concessions for company cars.

The government has finally listened and done this but there is little mention in Mr Rudd's press conference about the contribution cars make to greenhouse gas emissions and the neat way the two decisions complemented one another.

Instead the government was at pains to point out that people who are already beneficiaries of the scheme would be okay - it's just new contracts that will be affected.

At one point Mr Rudd listed the importance of different groups in forming his decision - cash-strapped families were first, followed by small business and then the environment.

Mr Rudd then promptly issued a challenge to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for another debate - this time on climate policy.

This is a challenge he knows full well Mr Abbott won't accept.

But it gets coverage and takes up space that might otherwise be devoted to coverage of other aspects of the announcement.

There is no benefit to Mr Abbott in accepting Mr Rudd's challenge any more than there would be in Mr Rudd deciding that Mr Abbott is right to demand he name the election date.

Greens leader Christine Milne said on Sunday that the carbon tax decision was ''all about politics and not policy''.

Despite Climate Change Minister Mark Butler's attempt to sell the decision ''from the environment's point of view'' the environment rated fewer mentions than the people worried about the cost of action on climate change.

After all, they are the voters.

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144 comments

  • Rudd and Gillard have spent the last three years saying their carbon tax would not impact cost of living pressures and today this is the very reason Rudd says he is abolishing it. What a hypocrite.

    Commenter
    brian
    Date and time
    July 16, 2013, 1:11PM
    • After all the rhetoric about it not costing jobs or impacting on families we now get this from modern labor.....

      Commenter
      M&M's
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 1:26PM
    • Exactly, which is why I'll be voting Green.

      (Go Chrissie!!)

      (You tell em !!)

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 1:44PM
    • So true. And yet if polls are to be believed half the voters would have Rudd and his mob for another term. Star power vs real, visionary leadership. Pity both parties don't excel. Then again anyone but the Greens.....

      Commenter
      dexxter
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 1:46PM
    • Why is he keeping the compensation that some families get for the Carbon tax if he as he says is reducing the living costs associated with a Carbon Tax that was not meant to cost the average family $9.90 a weeks and were over compensated for if you believe the previous Climate Change Minister. All the compensation is borrowed money.
      Where is the out cry about PS job cuts to help pay for the new scheme and an increase in taxes for people that have a work car you never hear a politician say we will slash the benefits a retired politician gets to help pay for something.
      If Rudd is re-elected the Greens will not pass these cuts in the Senate, it is just more empty talk by Rudd.
      Rudd the facade is at it again.

      Commenter
      terry
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 1:53PM
    • It's past the time to get serious people, the longer we wait, the worse it all gets.

      Our last remaining forests are being cut down, we have the highest extinction rate in the world... These things can't be replaced.

      And with the ALP and LIB policies, soon we won't be putting shrimps on the barbie, we will BE the srimps on the barbie...

      When will we get a government that is serious about doing something about it. That will take a stand on our behalf.

      Instead of just playing politics.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 1:58PM
    • Oh more lies from the Regressives, how surprising

      The floating carbon scheme has been in place for more than 12 months, the effects are now known and are well within the governments estimates

      This is about stopping the destructive tirade by the mad monk who has managed to do nothing other than destroy any chance we had of having a rational debate about this issue

      Just like his mentor Howard destroyed any chance we had of having a rational debate about Asylum Seekers back in 2001

      Bob Ellis has predicted the demise of the abomination that is the LNP because it's natural voter base is the over 70's and so quite naturally there are less of them every day, if the only Leaders it can produce are creatures like Howard and now Abbott then I hope like hell he's right

      Commenter
      havasay
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 2:24PM
    • sarajane - you say 'Our last remaining forests are being cut down'.

      Have you been outside the inner city recently? Go north (or any other direction), you'll see lots of trees left.

      Commenter
      flitter
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 2:33PM
    • Had Rudd given the real reason he'd have just invited more trouble. We all know what that real reason is for the back-peddling on the Carbon Tax. In instituting the tax, Gillard royally ticked off today's royalty, super-wealthy corporations like the mining industry and the energy industry. With corporate ownership of the electronic and print medias (yes, I mean you Gina), the second that law was passed, the knives were out. Labour found itself under constant, well funded attacks, not from that blowhard Tony Abbott, but rather from the thoroughly owned and subservient corporate lackeys, the mainstream media. It was Labour's only chance for survival, bow and scrape before the real controllers of our society today, not the electorate, but the corporations and their toady press.

      Commenter
      MiniverCheevy
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 2:38PM
    • No we all get to pay for them to get us out of the silly hole they dug us into in the first place.

      Well done.

      Commenter
      James
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 16, 2013, 2:41PM

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