RIP Australia's Carbon Tax

Carbontax_tombstoneUPDATE: at ~ 11:14AM local time in Australia, it was repealed!

From ABC: Legislation to scrap the carbon tax has passed the Federal Parliament in a major win for the Abbott Government.

After a lengthy debate, the Senate voted to get rid of the price on carbon, with 39 senators voting for and 32 voting against.

This was the Government’s third attempt to scrap the tax since the election – the first two were rejected by the Senate.

The Australian reports:

THE carbon tax has been repealed, fulfilling Tony Abbott’s “pledge in blood” to abolish the landmark Gillard government scheme.

The Senate passed the government’s amended carbon tax repeal bills by a margin of 39 votes to 32 at 11.14am, with only the Labor Party and the Greens opposing their passage into law.

It was the Senate’s third attempt to pass the repeal legislation.

The vote was held as Bill Shorten gave a clear pledge to take a new carbon pricing mechanism to the next federal election, due in 2016, in the form of an emissions trading scheme.


An ill-fated foray that never made much sense

Guest opinion by Phillip Hutchings

With perhaps a few more grandstanding shenanigans in our Federal Senate this week, Australia’s two-year experiment with a Carbon Tax will soon end. Legislation to kill the tax, which was brought in by the left-leaning Labor-Greens coalition in mid-2012, is now being finalised by our one year-old conservative Government.

That carbon tax has cost three prime ministerships, confused the voting population, and achieved pretty much nothing. Other market dynamics have been far more important in changing Australia’s greenhouse emissions, yet it’s politically insensitive to mention them.

The sanctimoniousness of such a tax in Australia is breathtaking. We are an energy heavy-weight, the world’s largest exporter of coal. Soon we will also be the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. At the same time as our Labor prime ministers were being successively culled by infighting over the carbon tax, the world’s biggest oil & gas companies were directing more than two-thirds of global investment in LNG production into Australia, the biggest investment boom ever in this country.

We are an economy built on the world’s hunger for fossil fuels. Yet with our gas and coal sources being either offshore or in remote locations, these vital export industries are mostly hidden from Australian voters.

The carbon tax itself was a lightweight. The theory underlying a carbon tax is to provide a long term price signal to drive a change in the industrial and consumer behaviour. On this score, the Australian tax was doomed to failure. After all, politically it had to appeal to the latte-sipping lefties, but without affecting their wallets.

The outcome – a watered-down policy that was all noise and no effect.

To minimise the economic fall-out, the Labor-Green Government limited the carbon tax to large industrial emitters (more than 25,000 CO2e/yr). Road transport and agriculture was exempt. Put together, that meant only about 185 companies in Australia’s US$ 1.5 trillion economy had to comply. And even those few were only lightly touched.

Industries which are “trade exposed” such as cement or aluminium smelting were mostly excused. They got either 66% or 94.5% of their carbon cost covered by the award of free units.

Just over one-third of Australia’s carbon emissions come from coal-fired electricity generators. And the dirtiest electricity comes from the aging brown-coal plants in Victoria – with almost double the emissions of modern gas-fired plants. Yet being located in a Labor-voting union heartland, they too got off lightly with the first half of their emissions effectively carbon- tax free. Nice.

None of which gave much incentive at all for carbon reduction. It’s hard to see any evidence at all of industries making long term investments in lower carbon-emitting factories or generating plants.

The domestic airlines got slugged with an extra 6 c/litre fuel excise, surely as crude a carbon tax as you can get. How was that supposed to reduce emissions? Yep, sure, aircraft fleets get renewed over time, and you bet, fuel efficiency is a factor when selecting alternative aircraft. But a surcharge on fuel itself was not going to change Qantas’ emissions.

So as a policy instrument, Australia’s carbon tax was never going to change emissions itself. It was a neutered program, raising Government revenue but not effective in changing behaviour.

Source – Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December 2013 Australia’s National Greenhouse Account

Yet, Australia’s greenhouse emissions have been declining for almost eight years. After decades of steady increase, that pause in carbon emissions since 2007 is striking. And it started six years before the carbon tax was implemented. It’s pretty easy to find the main reason for that – a steady fall in national electricity consumption. Latest figures show that Australia’s electricity use is at the lowest level since 2006. And with three-quarters of Australia’s electricity coming from carbon-intensive coal-fired sources, the fall in electricity use has led directly to a pause in carbon emissions.

But what caused Australian consumers to wind back their power use over the past eight years? Simple price elasticity, that’s what. There’s been huge investment in the network, the poles and wires to deliver (as opposed to generate) electricity. In most states, that led to a doubling of retail electricity prices. And yes, consumers did respond to that price signal, changing from electrical profligacy to parsimony. Nothing to do with the carbon tax, it was the regulated electricity supply industry recouping their capital investment.

What did we learn from this? The theory behind a carbon tax works fine – provide a price signal, and the consumer responds. It’s just that in this case, it was nothing to do with the carbon tax and all to do with regulated utilities doubling power prices as they caught up on network investment.

Here’s another little perverse change. Some years ago, I helped a fledgling gas producer negotiate a long term gas sales contract for electricity generation. The customer was a state Government-owned electricity generator, then setting up a new flagship and clean gas-fired generation plant. That helped shift the state’s generation sources ten years ago away from dirty coal, and into cleaner gas.

Yet earlier this year, that generator announced the closure of its gas generation in favour of dirtier coal generation. The reason? With three large export LNG plants now being commissioned for export, that gas is worth more for sale to China than for powering my fridge. In effect, a state Government snubbed its nose at the intent, let alone the price signal, from the Federal carbon tax.

So as a policy instrument, Australia’s carbon tax has been a failure. It never could have worked. And politically, it’s been a graveyard. Let’s hope politicians and bureaucrats from more enlightened jurisdictions study it and learn.

Australia’s carbon tax – no wonder it’s about to be buried.


17 July: ABC: Emma Griffiths: Live blog: Senate looks set to push through carbon tax repeal

Tony Abbott’s promise to “axe the tax” looks set to be fulfilled by the Senate in the next few hours…

Follow ABC News Online’s live blog for updates and commentary as they happen…

10.19: Simon Cullen: Earlier this morning, the Senate voted down a Labor amendment which would’ve converted the carbon tax to a floating carbon price…


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John Riddell

It just passed.
I was watching as it happened.
39 votes to 32


raising Government revenue but not effective in changing behaviour.

IN the final analysis, that is what it is all about. More revenue and control for government. Why do you think they “invest” so much in CAGW? There are many more worthy endeavors – cancer, heart disease, AIDS, Ebola (in the news of late).
But those are money losers to government. CAGW is a money raiser. As I said over at Joanne’s blog, not a single plan put forth by alarmists will do anything about ACO2. Or the climate. They all will reduce freedom, impoverish people, and result is millions of deaths due to lack of cheap affordable energy.

R. Shearer

How about a tax on carbon dioxide?


Congratulations Aussies, I hope Abbott and Harper can form a powerful alliance in leading resistance to COP21 in Paris next year. There must be a lot of happy but envious people in the U.K. right now, their current Prime Minister (Cameron) who appears hell bent on maintaining the fraud for the benefit of the wind folly industry and various troughers.


much excitement in Australia at the moment. is this a defining moment in the CAGW saga? hope so. doubt if we would have come this far without the dedication of sceptics like Joanne Nova & Anthony Watts, etc. many thanx to all who have fought to bring some sanity into the debate.

Chris in Queensland

Thank God that’s over.

Keith Minto

Phillip, thanks , a well written summary of the silly saga.

I’ll save my beer until the repeal is passed – Labour is trying very hard to derail the repeal with a filibuster, and we still don’t know for sure that Palmer is sincere about wanting to repeal the tax.

Yes, Joanne Nova is a breath of fresh air…(along with Anthony Watts).
Has anyone found the tropical hot spot, or the other 3 major global warming things that are supposed to happen, which nobody has come up with answers to – for Jo Nova?


Eric Worrall –
it passed 39-32 at 11.15am eastern australia time today, thursday 17 July 2014.


There is a saying………chickens and hatched or something.
After all, it’s not their money they are playing with.

As I recall, Australia has commercial uranium resources, but no nuclear power plants, likely due to their abundance of cheap coal. Australia has a population roughly 6 times larger than the state of South Carolina, which currently has 6500 MWs of capacity and provides 57% of the state’s power.
Based on population figures, Australia could produce roughly 50% of her power with 24 Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plants. I assume that would eliminate most or all of
the country’s need for coal generated power. Cost would be on the order of probably $110 billion
USD and that could be repaid in roughly 50 years if 1 cent per kilowatthour were sent to the treasury. Production costs should be on the order of 4 cents per kWhr, which includes everything – fuel, ops and maintenance, decommissioning costs ($300 to $500 million) , nuclear waste storage, repayment costs,etc. Plants would have a guaranteed lifespan of 60 years, a likely lifespan of more than 75 years.


Phillip Hutchings will have to find a new job now and get used to not calling Carbon Dioxide dirty. He is just another parasite that had attached himself to the green gravy train.


R. Shearer says:
July 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm
How about a tax on carbon dioxide?
When we use the term carbon tax we actually mean the organic GHGs tax (appropriately weighted) .

a happy little debunker

Now we need to get rid of the abominable Renewable Energy Target.


How about a tax linked to the discrepancy between climate models and temperatures.?


Col Mosby says:
July 16, 2014 at 7:22 pm
Nuclear power is a diabolical swear word in Oz and not allowed to be mentioned without 24/7 howls from the Greens and Labor.
These same clowns have wanted to penalize our little remaining manufacturing industry without ever allowing us the cost effective means to get the CO2 monkey off our back. As an example it takes about 17 tonne of CO2 (coal fired electricity) to make 1 tonne of Al which is mostly exported (at $24/tonne and increasing price for CO2 it would sink Al). Cement generates about 50% of its CO2 from the intrinsic chemical process.
Gas electric power, which is now more expensive than coal for power due to export our prices, would only reduce CO2 by about 40%.
We have finally got this monkey off our backs. Sure we will fit in with the rest of the world in the pretence that we can change the climate, just in a more subdued way.


Misdirection can only go so long until it is straightened out.
Policy makers are the last to learn .
This is a very good thing that will have huge policy implications globally.
So now what?
No really, now what?
Have we handicapped our ability to see clearly through our current climate science initiatives?


Truly a day that will go down in history in Australia. Honestly it’s been HILARIOUS watching the head-shaking, shaming, sanctimonious leftists twisting themselves inside out.
They TRULY BELIEVE. Really. They actually, honestly believe that repealing this useless drain on their economy will destroy the planet. I stand in awe at the stupid.


Reuters’ one-sentence report (at time of posting):
17 July: Reuters: Matt Siegel: Australian parliament repeals carbon tax, emissions trading scheme
The Australian Senate voted on Thursday to scrap the country’s carbon tax and plans for emissions trading, a major victory for conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott that leaves uncertainty about how Australia will meet its carbon reduction goals…

I’ve long been of the opinion that the climate debate will be settled not by science, but by economics. When push comes to shove, any government that puts in place taxes high enough to make a substantive difference is sentencing their country to economic ruin.

Paul Westhaver

Of the numerous NERDs who frequent Anthony’s Blog, are any of you keeping score of how many National Governments that have abandoned the Carbon Tax scheme?
I know of some, but then come the subordinate jurisdictions like provinces and states, and municipalities. As far as NATIONS go, how many aren’t involved in Carbon tax?


The ever charming Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was obviously pleased when just after the vote she tweeted “climate sceptic grubs”.
I’ll wear that description like a badge of honour thanks SH-Y.

@Heywood – Initially (about 40 years ago), a hyphenated last name stood for snootiness. Only those who had the where withal or were supposed to be smart had them. The common folk settled for a single last name.
Then along comes Shirley Jackson-Lee in the US and Sarah Hanson-Young in Oz (among others), and instead of imbuing the reader with a sense of privilege or intelligence, a hyphenated last name conjures up images of ignorance and stupidity.
They succeeded! Now every time I see one, I think the owner is a moron who is waiting for pictures of a flag on Mars or their tax ship to come in.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but did they do anything other than leave the door open ?


Horrifying quote from Aussie Senator:
Christine Milne, Senate, Tuesday:
I THINK at some point we will have a website of climate criminals and I would have a few people to put on that list. It would include Dick Warburton, Brian Fisher, David Murray, Maurice Newman, Mitch Hooke and so you could go on, with Chris Mitchell, Gina Rinehart, Innes Willox, Ian Plimer, Rupert Murdoch, George Pell, Andrew Bolt, John Roskam, Martin Ferguson and so on and so forth. In years to come, those people will try to pretend that they did not tear down the climate bills, when they have and the record will clearly show it. … To all those people partying around the corridors, enjoy it because it is your last stand. The fact is you have misjudged the temperature … When we look at the temperature of the planet rising, let us look at the climate science. The fact of the matter is we are on track for four to six degrees of warming. That means people will not survive. Part of the world will be uninhabitable. There will be one million deaths per week for the next 90 years if it gets to 4 degrees.
No one could possibly be that foolish. Honestly.


FANTASTIC!!! As an Australian I am proud of our Govt in fighting for the Scientific truth on Climate Change.
I would like to see our so called “Climate Scientists” being forced to wake up to this truth instead of their constant intellectual crap about “what will happen one day” Hooray!!!

It is ironic that the sun is spotless today and this is right in the middle of the solar cycle! Portending future cooling?
Although Sarah Hansen-Young tweeted “sorry” to her future grandchildren
my children will be able to keep the heaters on a bit longer at night for my grandchildren.

This is great news for freedom-loving non-socialist countries around the world. I hope they take note. Which countries are non-socialist???


Bulldust says:
July 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm
And there was much rejoicing!
Amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth. 🙂


I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, this is nothing more than a minor setback that will invigorate the troops.
Right ?

Meanwhile the Australian Labour Party (the equivalent of the US Democrats) vow to bring it back if they win government, in conjunction with their Greens party allies. Although the Labour Party vowed not to introduce it prior to the last election, then introduced it, then vowed to “terminate” the carbon tax at the last election, and have now decided to bring it back. So their position could still change a half dozen times before the next election anyway.

Bruce of Newcastle

We are very happy. Truth has overcome the forces of ignorance, for the moment anyway since here is what our Greens leader said a couple hours ago:

Global warming is not going away, it’s accelerating

That would be accelerating at 0.000 C/year according to the climate data.
Very hard to imagine how global warming could accelerate less fast than this.


TomR,Worc,MA,USA says: July 16, 2014 at 8:01 pm Horrifying quote from Aussie Senator:
“Christine Milne, Senate, Tuesday: ….. There will be one million deaths per week for the next 90 years if it gets to 4 degrees.”
Try back of envelope calculation:
Current world population 7 thousand million. Average life expectancy 70 years. Hence annual number of deaths 100 million. Hence deaths per week 1 923 077.
She is right, you know – there will be one million (actually nearer two million) deaths per week!
Perhaps she is forecasting that the weekly death rate will fall to 1 million per week. If so, then those of us in the late 70s can look forward to a long and happy life.
Thank you, Tony, and all the other Liberal Party members who have worked so hard for this outcome.

Eugene WR Gallun

TomR,Wore, MA,USA July 16, 2014 8:01pm
“And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail” — Lord Byron
Eugene WR Gallun

HGW xx/7

This is a huge victory, but after going and reading the words of these true believers – in the quotes from so-called “esteemed” senators, the tweets from the Green Party Hyphen – it feels as if it’s a Phyrric one. These people really believe. They are beyond hope. They start their arguments with “Because science,” and then follow it up with nothing but pure, unfettered, unscientific emotion. It’s disturbing.
This is no surprise; the fringes of the political spectrum run on emotion. The fact that it is able to mascarade as “science” and “public policy” is mind-boggling. They are the answer to the Religious Right in the US with two very dangerous additions: A) they want to control EVERY aspect of your life – economic AND personal, and B) they are too stupid to even see it. It’s emotion and belief, mascarading as truth. Vile, disgusting filth.
Cherish this day, normal people of Australia, because they have way too much invested in this to give up. Instead of sending sanctimonious tweets to your future offspring, make a real difference and fight to make sure this tax stays buried in the compost heap whence it was unearthed from.

Jeff D

I wonder if i could have the status of ” Climate Refugee ” by moving from the insanity the US has started with the GW agenda to AU?
Way to go guys, gratz.


I’ve been hard on Joanne Nova lately due to wiggle matching promotion but indeed she was instrumental in this profound backlash as was in a more subtle sense John Ray of the Greenie Watch blog. Christopher Monckton’s tour or two down under was also profoundly important. As whole countries fall to skepticism, the future will fill with demands that climate alarm skeptics be sought out for their rational opinions on policy matters in general. For the first time in history, the people involved in a monstrous scientific scam have been recorded in real time in a permanent archive thanks to a few Silicon Valley archivists.
Even India just declared Greenpeace to be a national threat. That’s over a billion people learning about yet another awakening amounting really to just a crazy cult. China is obviously only interested in climate alarm to promote their own needs over those of the West, so that adds another billion people to the skeptical cause. Africa is already on our side, being destroyed by Greenpeace, so another billion people we can count as allies. Russia hasn’t uttered a peep of climate alarm, but being so cold we only get a fraction of a billion there, converted. Canada is strongly skeptical now, a tiny sliver of a billion.
That leave’s Europe to conquer.
“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Putting strong pressure on working scientists to speak out lest they be drawn into being further enablers of a scam is now the best lever, as is outreach to urban professionals, both who lean left wing politically, so it becomes equally important to distance climate alarm skepticism from partisan politics now that the right wing is using it as some big crazy conspiracy theory as if simpleton Sarah “Fruit Fly Research in Paris, France” Palin was their divine goddess.
“The men who have changed the world…never succeeded by winning over the powerful, but always by stirring the masses. The first method is a resort to intrigue and only brings limited results. The latter is the course of genius and changes the face of the world.” – Napoleon Bonaparte


I have champagne in the fridge! 😀


Christine Milne just shows that you don’t have to be bright to become a senator. She makes W Bush look intelligent.
In fact within the greens its the opposite, intelligence is a disadvantage, but I can tell you she isn’t respected outside her own party. All she can do is pander to their pathetic little prejudices with Monty Python like witchhunt logic. The best evidence not to listen to the greens is their words themselves. Nobody will vote such nincompoops into real power, unless we abandon centuries or rationalism and reason.
What a joke!, making lists of anyone who disagrees with you as some sort of round up criminal system. She missed her chance, she should have been born in early 20th century Russia.

HGW xx/7 says:
July 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm
Don’t give up hope. Once the cycle of studying liberal arts gives way to studying actual science like chemistry, physics, mathematics, geology, geography, geophysics (well maybe that;s too much) water and earth sciences we will see a change in attitude. Everything has a cycle. It must be hard science up soon.


Youtube 4’37: ‘The Parliament finally listened’: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott


“So as a policy instrument, Australia’s carbon tax has been a failure. It never could have worked. And politically, it’s been a graveyard. Let’s hope politicians and bureaucrats from more enlightened jurisdictions study it and learn.” This is what will be the death knell of CAGW. Not truth,economics, or the media. It’s a political play so only votes can kill it.

Bill Parsons

And the reaction from the White House (… is he back from that golfing junket to Florida yet?) to come swift and mealy-mouthed. Miliseconds til the word “pariah” is used. Josh Ernest will josh the press earnestly from his elevated stool in the Kindergarten room.
Seriously, you have to wonder how much pressure U.S. put on Australia, perhaps through the World Bank or other means, not to repeal. Bad, bad example you fellows just set.

Evan Jones

She makes W Bush look intelligent.
“George W. Bush was straightforward and direct. The stupidest misconception was that he was stupid.” ~ Tony Blair
(It is true that dubya was not the brightest president. He is only somewhat smarter than I am.)


davidmhoffer says:
July 16, 2014 at 7:54 pm
I’ve long been of the opinion that the climate debate will be settled not by science, but by economics.
I’ve long been of the opinion that climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 will also be determined by the electorate.
Well done climate “scientists”. Did you enjoy your worthless and destructive lives ?


Rejoice ye blokes
In happy Oz!
On whom one of
The dumbest laws
That ever greens
Managed to foist
Now’s the petard
By which they’re hoist
Yet also quash
The “primal whine”
That will inform
The party-line
Dictated by
The hive’s Al Gore
Who this triumph
Will sure deplore
By pointing out
The CO2
That Gore’s good-times
Emit a-spew
And by outing
Ev’ry hive-leech
Who does not live
The cant they preach
Which is to say
Most ev’ry strain
Of greenshirt on
The gravy-train

Janice Moore

SUCH good news!
Good on ya, Australia!!!

Grinning from ear to ear, here in the U.S.A..
WAY — TO — GO!!