The carbon tax has landed, and the industry is still standing. After much controversy, debate and a year’s worth of stilted communication efforts, the carbon tax will now see nearly 300 businesses being charged $23 for each tonne of carbon they emit into the atmosphere.
As the carbon tax was implemented, Prime Minister Julia Gillard again defended her turnaround decision to implement the scheme, calling it Australia’s best tactical move in reducing climate change effects. The Prime Minister has stated that she is confident the Australian public will wholeheartedly support the tax for a cleaner country once the fear of the unknown that surrounds the tax diminishes.
“In the months ahead, as the dust settles from this debate Australians will be able to see that we have planned the right thing to tackle climate change and seize a clean energy future,” says Gillard.
The Prime Minister is adamant that the effects of the tax will speak for themselves, thus acting as a key tool in winning back the confidence of the public after a slew of what she has labeled as ‘wild and reckless’ statements from the opposition.
“They will have the evidence before their eyes to judge what carbon pricing means for them and their family,” says Gillard. “Australians will be able to judge for themselves rather than listening to the politicians.”
While this may be comforting to the everyday Australian, the effects on the nation’s industrial sector are unquestionable.
Opposition Climate spokesperson Greg Hunt notes that the tax comes at the ‘worst possible time’ for business Australia, with businesses and manufacturers already losing confidence under the scheme. Both Hunt and Nationals leader Warren Truss suggest that this will lead to a conservative hiring approach and an overall tightening of economic belts in these sectors.
“For business, it comes at the worst possible time as manufacturers battle a high Australian dollar while their overseas competitors are given a further advantage by not having to pay the carbon tax,” says Hunt.
“[The carbon tax] is the slow boa constrictor sapping life out of one business after another,” says Truss.
However, a number of federal compensation initiatives will now come into play to alleviate the strain of the tax on the industry. This includes a tripling of the tax threshold, offsets and credits, business tax loss offsets from previous taxes paid in the past two years, and additional instant asset write offs.
According to Greens leader Christine Milne, the tax will in fact boost the economy of the industry and Australia at large by instigating innovation through environmentally responsible incentives.
“We’re going to see quite a lot of innovation across Australia and you’re going to see households, industries, people going out there creating new jobs, new ideas, and this is really the beginning of a much more positive future,” says Milne.
The Prime Minister is taking perhaps the wisest route during all the rhetoric, saying little and allowing the tax’s effects to speak for themselves. The time for political commentary is over; the tax will start taking effect with the impacts out there for the industry to judge and, more importantly, to cater to.