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Carbon tax to heat up parliament

The carbon tax debate is set to reignite in federal parliament this week as the government introduces its package of clean energy future bills in the lower house.


Leader of the lower house Anthony Albanese last week announced parliament would start early on Tuesday to allow the introduction of the lengthy bills package, ahead of debate on the bills on Wednesday.

The opposition has already made it clear it wants discussion on the draft laws delayed until the bills package has been referred to a committee for proper parliamentary scrutiny.

Mr Albanese said there would be no voting on the legislation until the October sitting of parliament but it was clear there was a majority in the lower house and the Senate to pass the legislation.

The government was not overriding the fact there was a need for proper scrutiny of the legislation, he said.

Even before the week began Mr Albanese was accusing the opposition of attempting simply to block and be negative about the government’s carbon tax plans, calling on the opposition to develop some common sense over its refusal to grant pairs during the carbon tax debate in parliament.

Treasurer Wayne Swan was spruiking the importance of the introduction of the carbon tax package ahead of the parliamentary week.

“It’s going to be a big week with the introduction of the Clean Energy Future package into the parliament,” Mr Swan wrote in his economic note on Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to the debate and also getting on with introducing this critical economic and environmental reform.

“The legislative package will give businesses and investors certainty about the carbon price, allowing them to plan new investments, including in the renewable and clean-energy technologies of the future.”

A price on carbon was the next step forward in Australia’s economic reform, the treasurer said.

The federal government will be working on a local solution to ensure its intended changes to the Migration Act in the wake of the High Court decision, which ruled out its Malaysia solution, will win the support of the Labor caucus.

It faces challenges from the left of the party, which is opposed to offshore processing.

Labor also has to strike a balance with the coalition to ensure the passage of the amended laws in the lower house and the Senate, where the Australian Greens do not support the government on continued offshore processing.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said on Sunday any changes to the Act supported by Cabinet and caucus would face further attention from legislative drafters ahead of their introduction to parliament.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said the opposition would say the carbon tax needed to be “debated to death”.

“It won’t be,” Senator Brown told reporters in Hobart.

“There will be a parliamentary committee, it can either be Senate or house or joint house to allow the usual input.

“As far as the Greens are concerned, we want to see the legislation thoroughly debated, a final opportunity for people looking at that legislation to give input to the parliament … and the legislation then passed into law before parliament ends at the end of November.”