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Carbon Tax Legislation Becomes Law

Royal Assent has been given to the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future legislation.

The legislation, a package of 21 bills, introduces a carbon tax and associated measures.

Text of media release from Treasurer Wayne Swan, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, and Families Minister Jenny Macklin:

Clean Energy Reforms Receive Royal Assent

The Gillard Government welcome the Royal Assent of a further 21 bills of the Clean Energy Future Legislative Package and the proclamation of their commencement dates.

The completion of this process means that the Government has the central legislative pieces in place to deliver a clean energy future for Australia.

The Clean Energy Act 2011, Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Act 2011, Steel Transformation Plan Act 2011 and Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 and 17 related bills have all now received Royal Assent.

The Carbon Farming Initiative and Australian National Registry of Emissions Units commenced operation yesterday, after those acts received Royal Assent in September of this year.

The administrative provisions of the Clean Energy Act 2011 will commence on 2 April 2012, meaning that the Clean Energy Regulator can start operations to prepare for the introduction of the carbon price on 1 July 2012.

These laws will drive a fundamental transformation of the Australian economy and provide support to low and middle income households as we cut pollution and continue to grow our economy.

With the formal commencement of the national registry, Carbon Farming Initiative and the certainty provided by these acts, clean energy investment and the further development of carbon markets in Australia can begin in earnest.

Australia’s Clean Energy laws will deliver the following:

  • A carbon price of $23 per tonne will apply to around 500 of the nation’s biggest polluters from 1 July 2012;
  • The carbon price will transition to a flexible price cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme on 1 July 2015, linking Australia to international carbon markets;
  • The tax free threshold from 1 July 2012 will be tripled from $6,000 to $18,200, freeing up to a million people from having to lodge a tax return;
  • There will be payment increases for pensioners, equivalent to a 1.7 per cent increase in the maximum rate of the pension. There will also be similar increased payments for other government payment recipients, including eligible families, self-funded retirees, students and job-seekers. These payments will total around $7 billion in the period to 1 July 2015;
  • The Jobs and Competitiveness Program will support our emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries and help them to reduce their carbon and energy intensity;
  • The $300 million Steel Transformation Plan will support our steel industry;
  • The Energy Security Fund will provide assistance to the most emissions-intensive coal-fired generators, support energy security and help transition to cleaner energy;
  • An independent Climate Change Authority will be established on 1 July 2012 to advise on pollution caps and climate change policies, taking into account Australia’s legislated reduction target of 80 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050.

These measures will drive substantial reductions in the carbon pollution of the sectors they cover. The Government expects reductions by 2050 of 90 per cent of expected waste emissions, 76 per cent of expected electricity emissions, 62 per cent of expected fugitive emissions and 53 per cent of expected industrial process emissions.

The first household assistance payments will be made in May and June 2012, to help households get ready for the modest impact of a carbon price.

The initial Clean Energy regulations covering the landfill waste prescribed distance and applications for the Energy Security Fund have now been made.

The provisions of the Climate Change Authority Act 2011 to formally establish the Land Sector Carbon and Biodiversity Board commenced today.

In 2012, the Government will add the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to this legislative framework. The $10 billion CEFC will invest in commercialising clean energy projects, unlocking significant new private investment in renewable energy, low pollution and energy efficiency technologies.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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