Prime Minister Julia Gillard firmly believes that 'common sense' among Australians will prevail in the end as her government officially ushered in yesterday fixed-price carbon tax, again renewing a fiery debate on the program's economic and social impacts.
The Coalition insists that levying $23 per tonne of carbon emission, which is estimated to spur higher business costs on up to 300 local firms almost immediately, was entirely unnecessary with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott convinced that pollution can be cut down sans the tax punishment.
In an interview with ABC today, Mr Abbott said on the contrary, carbon pricing hurt Australia's oil and gas industry while the benefits earlier pledged by Ms Gillard to benefit millions of households will never materialise.
"We want to get emissions down without loading up the coal and the gas industries with these kind of additional cost imposts ... We're going to get emissions down by spending money from savings in the budget, going to the market and buying abatement through our emissions reductions fund," the Liberal leader told ABC on Monday.
His pronouncements were made in the aftermath of the ads and billboard blitz he launched that underscored the Coalition's steady opposition to the new tax policy, which it vowed to repeal once it wins government power next year.
Mr Abbott claimed in his campaign that nothing good will come out of the carbon tax, which he noted represented the lies peddled by Ms Gillard prior to the 2010 election when she declared that a Gillard Government will not introduce emission trading scheme.
Instead, the new tax will only weaken the domestic economy, creating a domino-effect that in the end would eliminate local jobs and push up cost of living in Australia, Mr Abbott said.
However, Ms Gillard said all the apprehensions about carbon pricing were baseless, predicting that once the program commenced its delivery of benefits to the average Australian, everyone will realise that the debates and fears will be all for nothing.
"I have great confidence in the common sense and judgment of the Australian people," Ms Gillard said in a piece she exclusively wrote for The Australian today.
She added that all the furore about the carbon tax were much like when GST was imposed by the Howard Government - it earned overwhelming opposition but it stayed anyway and outlived the Liberal government of Prime Minister John Howard.
The carbon tax, according to the Prime Minister, will take the same path and there is nothing that the Coalition can do about it despite claims that a Liberal government, touted to win next year, will immediately scrap the laws.
"Even if Mr Abbott ever becomes prime minister in this country, he won't take carbon pricing away. He'll engage in a little fiddle, a little fudge to kind of pretend, but carbon pricing will still be here," ABC reported Ms Gillard as saying on Sunday.
The Australian Greens has affirmed that eventually, carbon pricing's long-term benefits will quiet down whatever oppositions were currently dogging the tax, even quashing all the arguments floated by the Coalition against the anti-pollution laws.
By then, Senator Christine Milne told Sky News, "People will start to get angry with the Coalition for having made all the claims they've made."
Yet at the moment, Australia appears dismissive of the good sides attached with the new tax as the latest Fairfax/Nielsen poll showed that 51 percent of Australians were convinced that carbon pricing will make life more difficult for them.
It was also likely that the tax will outlive the Labor-led government as Newspoll said Labor's primary vote following the weekend survey of more than 1400 participants lagged the Coalition's by 20 points at 28 percent against 48 percent.
The Coalition also edged out the government on the two-party basis at 58 percent versus 42 percent, with Mr Abbott's preference numbers shoring up at 46 percent as against to Ms Gillard's 42 percent.
The new survey also indicated that more Aussies were happy with the performance of Mr Abbott as his approval rating steadied at 39 percent while the Prime Minister only elicited 35 percent.
Most notable indicator of the latest data is the likelihood that the debacle suffered by Labor in Queensland during the March election would be replicated next year, with Newspoll projecting of a 10 percent swing for the Coalition in the crucial state, with almost the same scenario in New South Wales.
The numbers suggested that key Labor figures - former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan among others - may not return to the federal Parliament after the general elections in August 2013.
To contact the editor, e-mail: