Cracks are showing on the Coalition climate change stand as the party's support for the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET) was questioned by backbenchers.
Senior backbenchers have blamed the RET for causing an 18 per cent increase in electricity prices in New South Wales and South Australia. Senator Ron Boswell pointed out that the RET would contribute more significantly to the aluminium industry than the carbon tax but the party had to admit that higher power cost associated with the RET would be a problem for the manufacturing industry.
However, Opposition leader Tony Abbott that the party must back the RET due to the popular support among Australian voters for renewable energy. He stressed the Coalition would commit to the RET but would scrap the carbon tax if it wins the 2013 election.
Mr Abbott continues to blame the carbon tax priced at $23 per tonne for the electricity rate hikes expected to be implemented on July 1 by 20 per cent in NSW, 18 per cent in South Australia and 15 per cent in Victoria.
The Brisbane City Council is also pointing to the carbon tax as the reason behind a planned 40 per cent rise in its rates next financial year at an average increase of $55 per year. Brisbane City Mayor Graham Quick explained that the city expects to spend $15 million more due to the carbon tax.
Brisbane's landfills are one of the country's major polluters although city residents have been doing their share in cutting their emissions.
"I promised during the recent election campaign that I would keep average rate increases to no more than 5 per cent if we were not faced with the impact of the carbon tax, the increase would have been just 2.6 per cent," The Australian quoted Mr Quick.
"The carbon tax is the federal Labor's gift to itself that will keep on giving despite the successful efforts of Brisbane's ratepayers to reduce their carbon footprint," the mayor added.
To address complaints from consumers, the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission has opened a hotline to entertain complaints about entities that adjust prices and rates upward because of the carbon tax slated to be collected beginning July 1.
To further strengthen the Opposition's campaign to battle the carbon tax, Mr Abbott plans to hold fortnightly national tours. His shadow ministers would join him in the tour.
To counter the Opposition's campaign, acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan pointed out that besides the compensation payments that had been sent out to 1.3 million qualified Australian families, the government would also send out also fortnightly the school kids bonus beginning Wednesday.
Each child in primary school would receive $409 and each child in high school would get $818 as part of the Family Tax Benefit scheme, Mr Swan said.
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