The Federal Government’s controversial climate legislation has passed the Senate 36-32 and will now become law from mid-next year.
From July 2012, polluting industries will pay $23 per tonne of carbon emissions and households will be compensated for extra costs through tax cuts and increased benefits.
The vote was greeted with glee from the Government and Greens and dismay by Opposition members, who were first out of the Senate doors to voice their protests.
The Nationals’ Ron Boswell called Independent Tony Windsor’s support for the bill “the greatest sell-out since Judas Iscariot took 30 pieces of silver”.
Country Liberal Party Senator Nigel Scullion said democracy had “faltered”.
Those comments were followed closely by the Greens, whose leader Bob Brown prefaced his remarks “from the grim to the grinning”.
And global environmental crusader, former US vice-president Al Gore, said on his website “the voice of the people of Australia has rung out loud and clear”.
Senator Brown said today is “a green letter day” that will “echo down through the ages”.
“The great debate on this legislation is over,” he said, vowing the legislation will never be rescinded despite threats by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to do so.
“People 50 years, or 500 years, from now will thank us for doing this.
“This is a vote for Australian householders, economic planners and ecologically sound business, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo, the Murray Darling Basin and 700,000 property owners on our coastal margins.”
Mr Abbott, who is overseas and missed the historic vote, said Prime Minister Julia Gillard has no mandate to impose the price and the Australian people have been betrayed.
“Julia Gillard and the Labor party have confirmed in law their betrayal of the Australian people,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
Three million households will be worse off under the tax, he said.
“The longer this tax is in place, the worse the consequences for the economy, jobs and families,” he said.
“It will drive up the cost of living, threaten jobs and do nothing for the environment.” Mr Abbott repeated his promise to scrap the policy.
“At the next election, I will seek a mandate from the Australian people to repeal this tax,” he said.
Mr Gore said the world “has turned a pivotal corner in the collective effort to solve the climate crisis”.
He praised the efforts of Ms Gillard in shepherding the legislation through, saying, “as the world’s leading coal exporter, there’s no doubt that opposition to this legislation was fierce”.
11/07/2011 – 13:00