EXPERT REACTION: Carbon tax repealed

Thu Jul 17, 2014

The Carbon Tax, introduced in 2011 by the Gillard Government, has been repealed. The Senate voted 39-32 to end the carbon pricing scheme after the Coalition government secured the support of the Palmer United Party senators and other independent crossbenchers.

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Professor John Cole is the Executive Director at the Institute for Resilient Regions at the University of Southern Queensland

“Perhaps, now the sad sorry tale of the carbon tax has been put to bed, Australia can have an open and scientifically informed discussion about climate change and what should be our part in addressing it. The carbon tax always had a taint of illegitimacy about it being the price paid for Labor to hold on in minority government. No political party has ever received a mandate from the Australian people to introduce a carbon tax.

Putting a price on carbon is a wholly different matter though and is essential for climate change programs to be effective and efficient. An emissions trading scheme should be part of Australia’s portfolio as we play our part in broader international efforts to reduce the source of human induced global warming.

Regional Australian communities will have a more assured and sustainable future hosting renewable energy infrastructure, than in building coal mines for markets that will in time have their own carbon price.”


Dr Roger Dargaville is a Senior Energy Analyst at the Melbourne Energy Institute & School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne

“When the clean energy bill was introduced in 2012, there was a significant and immediate reduction in the emission intensity of Australia electricity production. The improvement was due to a shift away from brown coal and an increase in gas and hydro power. In 2012, emissions from the National Electricity Market were 95 mega tonnes of CO2 per year. Now they are 85 mega tonnes of CO2 per year, a reduction of 12 per cent. This change has been driven by the price on carbon, as well as declining demand (driven by the increasing retail price in electricity, the decline in the manufacturing sector and increasing uptake in rooftop solar panels) and increasing wind power (due to the Renewable Energy Target). The cost of this shift is carried primarily by the largest emitters who have seen their revenue slashed, which is exactly what the price on carbon was supposed to do. The Government’s replacement strategy, Direct Action, will fail to reduce emissions as it fails to penalise the largest emitters. Also, Direct Action risks not gaining approval in the Senate as it is unlikely to get the support of PUP Senators. The repeal of the price on carbon is a backwards step and a sad day for the global climate.”


Professor Roger Jones is a Professorial Research Fellow in the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies (VISES) at Victoria University

“The perfect storm of stupidity.

It’s hard to imagine a more effective combination of poor reasoning and bad policy making.

A complete disregard of the science of climate change and its impacts.

Bad economics and mistrust of market forces.

Poor risk management to take what is effective and working, what can be readily adapted to more stringent targets, and replace it with a more expensive and unwieldy scheme that lacks the resources to meet its totally inadequate target of 5 per cent reductions by 2020.

A total failure of governance by government.”


Dr Hugh Outhred is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications at UNSW

“With climate change already underway, repeal of the carbon tax represents dereliction of duty with respect to the rights of young people and future generations, noting that an arguable flaw in the repealed legislation was to set an initial carbon price that was too high. The centrepiece of a coherent policy framework to mitigate dangerous climate change should be a steadily increasing carbon tax with reinvestment of the proceeds in assisting our society to become more sustainable.

The coalition plan to replace a “polluter pays” policy with a “pay the polluter” policy will exacerbate the budget imbalance while being simply inadequate to the task, while emission trading schemes are too complex and too subject to gaming to earn public trust.”


Professor Peter Rayner is from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne

“I’m a carbon cycle scientist, my job is to monitor, understand and predict the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As an Australian, I’m proud of how much we have contributed to that understanding, but today I’m embarrassed by how poor we are at putting that understanding into practice. We know we have to put Australia on a long road to a low-carbon future. Today we stepped off the road for a nap but that won’t make the road any shorter, we will just have to hurry more to catch up later. I’m also mystified that a government which has thought and acted seriously for the long-term health of the federal budget can’t think beyond the previous election for the carbon budget.”


The Conversation has also collected a number of comments which can be found here: