Owens: Carbon tax axe a "major step back"

Our grandchildren will look back on the abolition of the carbon tax with ‘‘horror’’ and as a ‘‘major step back’’ for Australia, says Federal Labor Parramatta MP Julie Owens.

Julie Owens.

Julie Owens.

In the wake of the news the tax had been axed, the Sun asked Ms Owens for her reaction.

It’s a major step back for Australia, our grandchildren will look back on this period of time with some horror. - Julie Owens, Federal Labor MP for Parramatta.

‘‘I find it quite distressing,’’ Ms Owens said. ‘‘I think it’s a major step back for Australia, our grandchildren will look back on this period of time with some horror.

‘‘I know there will be people in my community who will be really quite devastated by the decision by the Senate.’’

Ms Owens, who has campaigned on the need for climate action since 2004, described the now abolished legislation as ‘‘incredibly important’’ not just for the reduction of green house gas emissions, but as a measure to ensure the nation was not ‘‘left out’’ of  an emerging ‘‘new world economy’’ around emissions trading.

‘‘One of the big arguments which we tend to miss is that the rest of the world is moving in its technology to a cleaner economy.

‘‘We are being left behind by the rest of the world... We are wealthy when it comes to wind, sun, coastline and thermal. We have great scientists, great innovators and the natural resources you need to lead in renewable energy."

Ms Owens said more than 50 per cent of new investment worldwide was in renewables, which she described as the biggest recipient of investment in capital. But she said potential investors in new renewable technologies would now lack certainty in the Australian market.

Julie Owens.

Julie Owens.

‘‘For the economic strength of Australia, we have to move with the rest of the world. We don’t just want to use [new renewable technologies], we want to own them, to actually encourage the invention of solutions and put everyone to work in finding new answers - but without the incentive in your economy a price on carbon gives you, you don’t have the same investment.

‘‘Even those countries that don’t have a similar trading scheme in place are investing in renewables... Countries with emissions trading schemes will start to lead us on the technology.

‘‘There are members in the Senate who thought we should have moved towards an emissions trading scheme, but the scheme was already in place, it simply required the floating of the price.’’

She said under Kevin Rudd, the ETS price float would have occurred on July 1 this year, or in 2015 if the legislation had not been axed. She said once the price was floated, it would have been ‘‘linked to the European scheme’’.

"There are large numbers on the government’s side who do not believe in climate change," she said.

The Carbon Trade Exchange, which operates spot exchanges in multiple global environmental commodity markets, including carbon, renewable energy certificates and water in Australia, the EU and the US, released an "urgent call for carbon policy certainty" from the Australian government.

"Today’s repeal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism (CPM) without a suitable replacement does not provide Australian business with the policy certainty it needs to prosper," the CTE statement said.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt has said the government had delivered on its election commitment to abolish the carbon tax and said it would save Australian families $550 a year.

"Scrapping the carbon tax is a foundation of the government’s economic action strategy," Mr Hunt said.

"The carbon tax was a $9 billion a year hit on the Australian economy. Australian businesses either had to absorb the costs or pass it on the consumers."

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