Australia: Green activists fight back on carbon tax repealBy Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon Jul 17, 2014 4:11PM UTC
Australia’s Coalition Government is celebrating the repeal of carbon tax which was voted down in a Senate marathon today. It is a landmark victory for Prime Minister Tony Abbott since he assumed office last year. From day one, he wanted to abolish clean energy legislations which the previous Labor Government had enacted.
The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2] was voted down last week, July 10, after crossbench senators under the Palmer United Party (PUP) joined the opposition block. But Abbott was relentless over the weekend. He worked with PUP leader Clive Palmer to sort out a last minute amendment.
The repeal bill was defeated in both houses of the Parliament since Abbott introduced the proposed legislation. Last week, the bill reached a double dissolution trigger, but Abbott was determined to quash the tax once and for all.
On Monday, the Senate resumed deliberations and in the final vote on Thursday, the senators from the PUP backflipped as expected. They voted for the repeal, along with Motoring Enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir, Family First Senator Bob Day, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan. Labor and the Greens voted against.
The jubilant prime minister reiterated the tax is a big obstacle to businesses and a hand brake to the national economy. “We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia,” he enthused. He said it would save the average family $550 a year and the first benefits would be seen in coming power bills although oppositions and observers said the savings is unclear and without consensus.
While Abbott is celebrating, Greens Leader Christine Milne condemned the government and crossbench senators for “the legacy of their political career”. Milne declared the vote a “failure” that would see Australia a “global pariah” and” backwater” going against the flow while other countries marched towards pricing carbon and stronger action on climate change. Labor senator Lisa Singh said with one vote, Australia had moved backwards and it “will today be a laughing stock to the rest of the world”.
Conservationists, grassroots to fight back
Grassroots declare Thrusday as the black day for the planet. They said Australia is the first country in the world to repeal a carbon tax, with no clear carbon emissions plan being put in place.
GetUp is now galvanising a campaign that would be “the largest open letter in Australia’s history” condemning Australian government’s inaction on climate change. The group has already gathered more than 73,600 signatures as of noon time on Thursday.
Rallies are already being scheduled on important dates when governments around the world meet to tackle climate change, including a United Nations meeting in New York this coming September, G20 summit in Brisbane in November, and Conference of Parties in Paris next year.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) joins conservationists across the nation to express dismay over the dumping of carbon tax. In an email to supporters, the ACF said,
Today our government failed us. The senate just voted to repeal our working price on carbon pollution. You, with Australia’s leading scientists, economists, health experts, firefighters and ambulance workers fought loud and clear to keep our climate safe. But the senate didn’t listen to us. Instead they chose to listen to big polluters and abolish our carbon price.
Now is the time to show Australia that while the government voted against climate action, we won’t give up. In Bono’s words “The power of the people is greater than the people in power”.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific also expressed disappointment on the government for making Australia the first country in the world to abolish a price on carbon. It told supporters that as the rest of the world moves to tackle climate change, “the Australian government is doing everything it can to remain wedded to fossil fuels.” It urged Australians, “to come together and take action to secure a cleaner, healthier safer future.”