Climate Change Alert: Carbon tax legislation before Parliament - 14 Sep 2011

The Federal Government has introduced its carbon tax and accompanying legislation into Parliament.

The Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 complimentary pieces of legislation were introduced yesterday to a Parliament that opened two hours earlier than usual in order to debate the various bills.

Here, partner Michele Muscillo and solicitor Ben Ricketts outline what the Government hopes to achieve in introducing this legislation.

Key points

  • Due to an agreement with the Greens, the carbon tax is likely to be fast-tracked between the upper and lower houses, with a vote to be put to the House of Representatives by mid-October, and to the Senate by mid-November.
  • The Government's overall objective is to have a carbon tax of $23 per ton in place by 1 July 2012.

The carbon tax and accompanying legislation

In introducing the carbon tax and accompanying legislation, the Government hopes to phase out the highest polluting coal fired electricity generators by 2020, at the same time encouraging investment in clean energy such as wind, solar and geothermal in order to reduce Australia's emissions by five percent of year 2000 levels by 2020.

A large proportion (estimated at around 40 percent) of the revenue collected from the carbon tax will be used to provide assistance to Australian industry under the Government's Jobs and Competitiveness Program. Free credits will be provided to the most emissions intensive trade exposed industries in order to avoid carbon leakage, whereby jobs and industry are lost either offshore or to overseas competitors.

The complimentary legislation introduced into Parliament deals with amendments to:

  • income tax rates (the tax free threshold will be tripled to $20,500 as part of the Government's
  • proposed household assistance package);
  • the Ozone Protection Act 1989 and the Carbon Farming Initiative;
  • fuel tax and aviation fuels legislation; and
  • the powers given to ASIC and the various Government bodies that will be created to administer and enforce the carbon tax.

With the Greens pledging to assist the Labor Government to push the suite of carbon tax legislation through both houses, Labor has added an extra sitting week to the Senate to allow time to pass the bills before the Christmas break.

For details on the effect of the carbon tax on top polluters, please click here. For more information on how the carbon tax or its associated legislation may affect your business, please contact HopgoodGanim's Climate Change team.