Australia May Face New Elections Over Carbon Tax Battle
Australia’s Prime Minister-elect is piling pressure on the Labor Party to “honour” the new government’s mandate to repeal the carbon tax. But Labor’s opposition to the moves could leave the bill deadlocked in the Senate and could trigger a double dissolution election.
Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott yesterday instructed his department to begin drawing up the legislation to dump the carbon pricing scheme, and says Federal Parliament will resume in late October or early November to deal with it.
PHOTO: Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott, with Nationals leader Warren Truss and Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop in Canberra. (AAP: Alan Porritt)
“My emphasis will be on being purposeful, methodical, calm and conscientious,” he told Fairfax radio.
“And the last thing I want to do is rush the Parliament back for a photo opportunity before the substance of the work is there for it to do.”
The Coalition is on track for a 32-seat majority after wresting a swathe of seats from Labor and independents in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria in Saturday’s poll.
Mr Abbott’s spokesman – and likely minister – for the environment, Greg Hunt, says scrapping the carbon tax will be new government’s “first order of business”.
“We want to set out now to do what we said we would do, and the only people who stand between Australia and lower electricity prices are the Labor Party,” Mr Hunt said.
However, both Labor and the Greens have indicated they will not support moves to dump the carbon pricing scheme, nor will they support the Coalition’s direct action scheme to address climate change.
Senior Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen says his party’s stance is clear.
“The Labor Party believes that climate change is real,” he said.
“The Labor Party believes that we need to do something about it. The Labor Party believes that a market mechanism is the best way to do that, and we won’t be walking away from those beliefs.”
Labor’s opposition to the moves, would leave the bills deadlocked in the Senate and could trigger a double dissolution election – an option Mr Abbott has said is on the table.
Until the Senate changeover in July, the Greens will continue to hold the balance of power, making it impossible for the Abbott government to pass legislation such as the carbon tax repeal and toughening up asylum seeker policies unless Labor offers its support.