UPDATE 3.30pm Day one of the carbon tax and the sky is yet to fall in.
That’s the message being sold by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Cabinet, who have tried to paint Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s claims about the tax as dishonest.
The $23 per tonne price on carbon emissions started on Sunday, directly impacting on 294 electricity generators and other companies.
The Federal Ggovernment is aiming to cut carbon emissions by five per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.
Mr Abbott says the carbon tax will push up prices for consumers, hurt local businesses and see jobs lost.
Ms Gillard spent much of Sunday rebuffing Mr Abbott’s claims.
“Is the Sunday roast now costing $100?” Ms Gillard asked reporters in Melbourne.
“Has the coal industry closed down? Is my weekly shop now 20 per cent more expensive? Has Australia entered a permanent depression?“
She said the debate around the carbon tax resembled the debate on the GST when it was introduced by Prime Minister John Howard in 2000.
“I was opposed to the GST,” Ms Gillard said.
“But once it was in operation, it was clear to all that there was no going back.”
She said Mr Abbott’s plans to repeal the carbon tax if elected would see him strip tax cuts from millions of families, and would be revealed as “fiddle and fudge”.
But Mr Abbott said he “could be believed when I say there will be not carbon tax under a government I lead”.
“On day one of the new parliament, the carbon tax repeal legislation will be introduced,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
He said the carbon tax was based on a “lie”.
“(The carbon tax) will hit every Australian family’s cost of living, it will make every Australian’s job less secure and it won’t actually reduce emissions.”
Treasurer Wayne Swan said Sunday was the day “that Tony Abbott is going to get mugged by the truth”.
He held up a box of Weet-Bix and a piece of roast lamb saying their prices had not changed since the carbon tax was introduced.
He said the tax would have a modest impact on prices overall but that many households would be assisted financially.
The financial assistance, which also starts from today, includes the tripling of the tax-free threshold from $6000 to $18,200, more money for carers and greater support for pensioners.
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