The most politically costly reform in politics in decades is to end with the Senate preparing to wind up Labor’s carbon tax and scrap the automatic move to a market-based trading scheme from next year.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt (left) is congratulated by colleagues including Christopher Pyne and Kelly O’Dwyer. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Just before the House adjourned on Thursday, there were jubilant scenes on the floor of the House of Representatives as the Coalition passed the carbon tax repeal bills for the second time.
The final vote went through on the voices after which Environment Minister Greg Hunt was embraced and high-fived by colleagues.
He had earlier successfully moved an amendment to split the Clean Energy Finance Corporation abolition – which will not pass the Senate – from the package of bills.
Labor unsuccessfully moved an amendment to repeal the carbon tax and move straight to an emissions trading scheme.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was not present to see the repeal go through as he was attending a function out of Canberra.
The government’s carbon tax repeal bill will be voted on by the newly configured Senate as early as July 7, but more likely a week later on the 15th – due to Senate procedural rules – after Tony Abbott secured the final crossbench support from Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party.
It will pass with the support of the Coalition, and most of the cross-bench independents and the PUP bloc which includes the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party’s senator-elect, Ricky Muir.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with Mr Palmer on Thursday morning and emerged happy that the minor party’s four upper house votes would support the abolition of the fixed price, subject to just one condition – a guarantee that the package would contain legislated assurances of cheaper electricity for households.
The pair met in Mr Abbott’s Parliament House office for 30 minutes – their first formal meeting in their current roles – to do the deal, jointly sounding the death knell of the policy issue that more than any other, Mr Abbott had built his 2013 election pitch on.
”This government will deliver on its commitment to abolish the carbon tax and I’m delighted that crossbench senators will deliver on their commitment to abolish this toxic tax once and for all,” a triumphant Mr Abbott told Parliament later in the day.
”I look forward to working with him to ensure all the savings from the abolition of the carbon tax are passed on,” he added.
The historic agreement came just 14 hours after Mr Palmer, flanked by one of the world’s most prominent climate advocates, former US vice-president Al Gore, announced his party bloc would vote to scrap the carbon price.
However, in a setback to the government’s overall plan, Mr Palmer also committed to retaining key pillars of the Labor-Greens climate change architecture in the form of the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Renewable Energy Target.
The RET is the subject of an review which is due to report next month. There are concerns that mandating a 20 per cent quota for energy from renewable sources, had made electricity more costly and was harming the economy.