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Australian Current Affairs

Australia: Tony Abbott won’t gain much with his carbon tax stance


Australia Carbon TaxThe carbon tax has failed to incite a tsunami of complaints from the public, with new data from the consumer watchdog indicating Labor’s policy may have fallen off the public radar.

In a sign that Tony Abbott will be hard-pressed to generate the same political bounce from his anti-carbon tax campaign in the run-up to this year’s federal election, figures released to The Weekend Australian show the tide of carbon price complaints has dropped off sharply in the past three months.

In October, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission released a report on the first 100 days of the Gillard government‘s carbon pricing plan, showing 60 carbon tax-related complaints were received on average each day when the policy was introduced.

That number dropped to between 10 to 15 complaints a day by the beginning of October, and new data provided by the ACCC reveals carbon-tax-related grievances have further slumped to an average of three complaints a day in the period from October to January.

While 6 per cent of all complaints and inquiries received by the watchdog related to the carbon tax in the period between July 1 and October 10, in the last three months issues relating to the $23-a-tonne impost have made up less than 1 per cent of the total complaints received by the ACCC.

“Carbon-price-related complaints and inquiries have dropped to an average of around 3 per day in the October to January period,” a spokesman for the ACCC said.

“The ACCC has received less than 300 carbon-price-related complaints and enquiries in the October to January period.”

This comes as carbon analytics firm RepuTex predicts Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions will slow this year, largely due to a significant forecast downturn in the steel and aluminium industries. Reputex predicts emissions will be more than 10 million tonnes, or 3 per cent, lower than what would have been the case without a carbon tax.

The sharpest decline in emissions is predicted to come from the metals sector, which is forecast to produce 6 per cent less emissions as a consequence of reduced production.

“We’re seeing the combined impact of both carbon pricing and major sectoral changes within the Australian economy steadily shifting the country’s emissions profile,” said RepuTex associate director of research Bret Harper.

The study predicts steel emissions will decline by more than 21 per cent this year, with aluminium smelters also predicted to curb their emissions by more than 6 per cent as a consequence of a downturn in both industries.

Despite the carbon tax being designed to fast-track the transition from coal to renewable power generation, the research predicts coal generation will increase by 8 per cent to 2020.

While brown-coal generation is forecast to decline by almost 17 per cent to 2020, the use of less carbon-intensive black coal is expected to grow by 20 per cent in the same period.

“We see coal maintaining its share of Australia’s generation mix through 2016, when government assistance to brown-coal generators expires,” Mr Harper said. “Rising gas prices will hamper gas generation’s ability to compete with coal.”

Source: The Australian “Tony Abbott won’t gain much bounce in carbon tax stance”
 
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