By Julian Bajkowski
Councils across Australia have outlined a list of concerns over consequences arising from the planned repeal of the Carbon Tax, citing management of unspent carbon price liability funds and spending on carbon abatement measures as key areas of focus.
The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has confirmed it has lodged a submission with the Federal Government in response to the release exposure draft of the tax’s repeal Bill by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in mid-October.
The closing date for submissions to the government was 4th November 2013.
The prospect of the Carbon Tax’s repeal presents a considerable challenge to many local governments, especially those which invested substantially in measures to reduce both carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption to offset the soon to be dumped price on carbon pollution.
“ALGA has been working through the exposure draft and discussing issues with state associations, the Commonwealth Government and relevant industry bodies,” the peak body said in a statement to members.
“ALGA's submission will be dealing with a number of issues that could potentially pose significant difficulties for councils in the transitional period.”
The has peak group has listed its main worries as:
• Communicating with the community to assist them in understanding the real impacts of the repeal;
• determining an approach to managing unspent carbon price liability funds;
• clarifying the roles and responsibilities of councils going forward, particularly ongoing responsibility for National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting; and
• seeking to ensure that councils that invested in abatement technology, in good faith, are not disadvantaged.
A big concern for many local governments will be how they reconcile longer-term investment in abatement measures against the likelihood that the future costs they sought to redress now seem unlikely to be incurred.
While many energy saving measures, including LED lighting for streetlights, often generate their own savings through lower power consumption, less clear is what will happen to areas like mitigating emissions from landfill.
Another challenge will be managing public expectations that prices for a range of goods and services, ranging from power and groceries to rates, will fall quickly.
A key promise from the Coalition was that “average families will be better off by more than $550 a year in 2014-15, rising to around $900 a year in 2019-20” after Carbon Tax was junked.
While the axing of Carbon Tax may have proved a potent political weapon during the election campaign, the heat is now on to deliver falls in electricity costs of 10 per cent and gas of 9 per cent – with no guarantee the repeal will pass the upper house until new Senators are sworn in next year.
Another challenge for ALGA will be whether or not it will change its present position of strongly supporting a carbon price in order to extract funding under the Coaltion’s so-called Direct Action policy.
On its website, the peak group puts its present position as follows:
“In regards to mitigation, ALGA supports a price on carbon, in particular a market based approach to drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. ALGA will work with the Australian Government on the design of an effective scheme that is practical and does not have unintended consequences for local communities.”
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