Shadow climate change minister Mark Butler

20 March 2014 — Labor and the Greens have voted to block the Abbott Government’s clean energy repeal bills.

The Clean Energy (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill was rejected by the Senate at a third reading (33-29).

“Without a credible alternative, Labor cannot support the abolition of the existing clean energy policies,” shadow climate change minister Mark Butler said.

However, Labor’s proposal to get rid of the carbon tax and replace it with an emissions trading scheme was also knocked back by the Government and the Greens on Monday.

Mr Butler said Direct Action was not a credible alternative.

“Labor has been upfront about our intentions since before the 2013 election – we will repeal the carbon tax if there is a credible plan to address climate change,” he said.

“Along with the rest of the world, Labor knows the best alternative is an ETS.

“In contrast to Labor’s ETS, Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy will cost the taxpayer billions of dollars and won’t do enough to tackle climate change.

“Respected former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has called Direct Action ‘bizarre’ and last week said it would cost $4 billion to $5 billion a year – much more than is budgeted.”

Greens leader Christine Milne said: “The Senate has rejected Tony Abbott’s do-nothing approach on global warming and voted to maintain the price on pollution.”

After the vote Environment minister Greg Hunt said that he wanted Parliament to respect the will of the people.

“My hope and my belief is that if this Parliament will not do it, the new Senate in the first two weeks after July has given all the indications that they will respect the mandate given by the Australian people,” Mr Hunt said.

CEFC under threat again

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation abolition bill has also been reintroduced to the Senate after previously being blocked in December.

Research group RepuTex said the bill was unlikely to pass through the Senate in its current formation.

If unsuccessful a second time, it would produce a trigger for a double dissolution, though RepuTex said this outcome would also be highly unlikely.

It has even been suggested the CEFC may be safe under the new Senate configuration from 1 July with conservative Senator John Madigan from the Democratic Labour Party and independent Senator Nick Xenophon lending their support.

“This is a $10 billion fund based on borrowed taxpayers’ money,” Mr Hunt said.