Prime Minister Julia Gillard believes a carbon tax is ‘what is best for Australian families’. She also said that MPs who are against the change will be judged poorly in the future.
The Federal Government introduced laws to Parliament and said many families and pensioners would get lump sum compensation payments worth hundreds of dollars from May 14. The payments are designed to offset price increases throughout the following year. It has also been revealed that parents who give birth to a child from July 1 will get a ‘top up’ compensation payments during the year.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the tax would hurt every Australian by pushing up prices on most goods and that it would cost jobs. He accused the Prime Minister of trying to rush through laws without adequate scrutiny.
“This is the most complex policy change in our history, designed to change the way every Australian lives and works,” Mr Abbott said.
However, Ms Gillard said there had been years of debate over climate change and no amount of time would help Mr Abbott change his stance.
“It’s time to deliver the action on climate change we need to do what is best for Australian families, what is best for future generations, what is best for this country,” she said.
The Government has designed part of its compensation scheme to kick in early, hoping that lump sum payments will be popular. Tax cuts will provide more cash to cope with price rises during the year.
There was mixed reaction from lobby groups. Environment and community organisations lauded it while the Australian Industry Group said the tax was too high at $23 a tonne.
Ms Gillard compared the introduction of a carbon tax to economic reforms such as Medicare and superannuation.
“Ask those who voted in this house against Medicare in 1983, how smart did that look in 1984?” Ms Gillard said.
“The final test is this: are you on the right side of history?”