Australia said yesterday the world expected it to do its part to reduce pollution linked to global warming as the nation counts down to controversial new taxes on carbon emissions and mining profits.
Hard-fought levies on corporate pollution and the so-called “super profits” of iron ore and coal mining take effect tomorrow after years of heated debate and campaigning which cost former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd his job.
The conservative opposition has warned that key resources industries, whose exports to fast-growing Asia helped Australia dodge recession during the financial crisis, face ruin under the new tax regime.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal both the mining and pollution taxes if he wins office in elections due next year.
About 350 entities, many of them power generators and coal mining firms, will be liable to pay the A$23 (US$23.4) per tonne pollution tax in its first year, according to the government’s Clean Energy Regulator.
The carbon levy is expected to bring in A$4 billion over the current financial year, increasing the cost of living per household by about A$10 per week, but funding a raft of compensation measures including tax cuts.
Australian Minister for Climate Chnage and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said the tax was an essential step in transforming Australia’s economy, adding that Australia’s major trading partners, including China and South Korea, were introducing mitigation measures such as emissions trading schemes.
Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of the iron ore and coking coal used in steelmaking and the second-biggest exporter of thermal coal used in power stations.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the passage of the tax in November last year as the result of 37 political inquiries and “years of bitter debate.”
The issue was instrumental in the removal of Rudd who had an ambitious plan to levy a 40 percent tax on the “super profits” of Australia’s booming mining sector, a watered-down version of which will also start tomorrow.