PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday succeeded in his attempts to have the controversial carbon tax abolished.
The Senate voted 39 to 32 in favour of killing the tax. It was introduced by previous Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012 and its abolishment had made up a significant part of Abbott’s election campaign in 2013.
The Senate’s decision has been welcomed by the mining industry, with the Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) saying it marked a significant milestone in delivering on the Abbott government election commitment to abolish unnecessary taxes and realise the resource sector's true economic potential.
“The imposition of the world’s highest fixed price on carbon has placed a significant cost burden on Western Australian resource projects,” said CME CEO Reg Howard-Smith.
He pointed out that last year, the carbon tax alone placed a burden on A$1.2-billion on the mining industry across the country, an impost not faced by Australia’s mineral export competitors.
“The resource sector’s prime focus is on the high cost of doing business here in Australia. When combined with decreasing ore grades and new minerals and energy-rich regions emerging around the world, maintaining Western Australia’s resource project competiveness is crucial.
“Imposed costs on industry, such as the carbon tax have worsened our international competitiveness,” Howard-Smith said.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Michael Roche said that the repeal of the carbon tax was also good news for the Queensland economy.
“The carbon tax was a massive double-fail.
“It failed to achieve its environmental objective of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions while loading the Australian economy with costs over and above anything imposed on minerals and energy export competitors.”
Roche said that while the carbon tax itself was unwanted, the Queensland resources sector supported a measured transition to a low-emissions economy, subject to major global emitters and Australia’s resource competitors moving in the same direction.
“An effective policy response to managing climate change requires a global agreement on greenhouse-gas abatement, including comparable emissions-reduction commitments from all major emitting nations, substantial global investment in low emissions technologies and mechanisms to encourage the lowest-cost abatement.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (Appea) has also welcomed the Senate’s decision, adding that it removed a significant cost to liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, which faced competition from the global markets.
“Surging LNG demand in Asia presents an enormous opportunity for Australia. However, rising development costs raise doubts about the attractiveness of continued investment in Australian projects.
“While initiatives are being taken within the industry to address cost competitiveness, it is good to see policy action that removes costs for trade-exposed producers,” said Appea CEO David Byers.
“Exporting LNG to the world is one of the most meaningful contributions Australia can make to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions as natural gas is a much cleaner burning fuel than traditional energy sources.”
Despite the mining industry’s enthusiasm for the repeal of the carbon tax, the Australian Greens party has said that it was a “tragic day” for both Australia and the planet.
“History will judge Abbott harshly for his denial of global warming and his undermining of Australia’s efforts to address it,” the party said in a social media post.