Parliament to Debate Carbon Tax Next Week

It’s one of those coincidences for which we can claim no credit. Months ago, when we pencilled in next Thursday, 15 September for an Intelligence Squared debate on the carbon tax, we didn’t know that the government’s legislation would be introduced into parliament that very week.

The Federal government is planning to introduce a package of 13 carbon tax-related bills into Parliament next week. It hopes debate over the legislation can begin by Wednesday, but the manager of opposition business, Christopher Pyne, claims the opposition has yet to see the full legislation and won’t allow the government to “rush this change through parliament”.

The opposition would prefer members to have a week to read the legislation before it then goes before a committee for further scrutiny. The government, hoping to pass the bills before the end of October, may choose to declare the legislation urgent and, in so doing, ‘gag’ debate. It’s also hoping to save time by forming a joint committee consisting of members of both the lower and upper houses, rather than the legislation having to pass through two separate committees, as would otherwise be the case.

Under Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership, the carbon tax’s predecessor, the carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), was stalled in the Senate despite enjoying the nominal support of the opposition under its then leader, Malcolm Turnbull. The leader of the opposition in the Senate at the time was Senator Nick Minchin, who, unlike Turnbull, is a noted climate change sceptic. The opposition withdrew its support for the CPRS when Tony Abbott replaced Turnbull as opposition leader in December 2009, whereupon the legislation was defeated in the Senate on its second reading.

Although Tony Abbott’s position on climate change has shifted over time, he is on the record acknowledging that human-induced climate change is real, but that claims its effects will be catastrophic are as yet unproven. Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax is predicated on the notion that a carbon tax won’t reduce emissions. “[I]t’s going to drive up prices, threaten jobs and do nothing at all for the environment,” he said in a televised address to the nation in July.

Greens Senator Christine Milne has stated the Greens fully support the Clean Energy Future legislative package. The Greens would like to see it clear parliament promptly so that organisations can begin preparing for the introduction of the carbon tax and other measures on 1 July next year.

The next Intelligence Squared debate will take place next Thursday, 15 September at the Melbourne Town Hall. Speakers will debate the proposition, ‘A carbon tax won’t fix climate change.’ We will live-tweet the event using the hashtag #iq2oz

Related posts