In spite of promises by Coalition leader Tony Abbott to repeal the carbon tax if the Opposition wins in the 2013 election, big polluters in Australia believe otherwise.
The large emitters of greenhouse gases said a similar measure with another name would be put in place by the government in power after a few years, according to a survey of experts who work for the heaviest polluters.
The poll by the Crawford School of Public Policy of the Australian National University found that 40 per cent of the polluting firms believe that the carbon tax would be repealed by 2016, but 79 per cent think a price on carbon would be in place after four years.
Although Dr Frank Jotzo, the author of the report on the survey, said that the poll did not represent all the 300 entities liable to the $23 per tonne carbon tax, their number is more than 50 per cent of the emissions covered by the levy.
The survey also found that 70 per cent of the respondents thought that the target of reducing emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 would still be in place by 2015, and 25 per cent think it would even be increased. Another 75 per cent do not expect the Australian system to have links with the European carbon trading system by 2018, but 60 per cent thought it would be linked by 2020.
Due to the prevailing belief that the carbon tax is here to stay despite the blood promise of Mr Abbott, 70 per cent of the respondents said their firms had reduced their emissions in anticipation of the carbon price and 84 per cent said they plan to make cuts over the next three years.
Because of the controversy following the implementation of the carbon tax, the Gillard government has expressed willingness to tweak the law. It is negotiating with the Greens, which supported the measure, to shift to an emissions trading scheme earlier than the initial scheduled beginning date of 2014. Under the scheme, the pricing of the carbon tax would be dependent on market forces and it would lead to the axing of the $15 floor price scheduled in 2015.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched her own campaign to defend the tax against the Opposition's scare campaign. In defence of the carbon price, Ms Gillard said since details of the carbon tax were announced in 2011, the Australian economy grew by 3 per cent, household consumption also went up by a similar 3 per cent and new business investment expanded by 20 per cent.
"There's no better proof that the scare campaign is nonsense," Ms Gillard told ABC.
She also pointed out that if an Abbott-led government would repeal the carbon tax, it would halt the investments made in solar energy and other renewable sources of power and throw people employed in new cleaner businesses out of jobs.
"I think in a few years' time, we'll think that getting rid of the carbon price would be a bit like reverting the AFL (Australian Football League) back to the VFL (Victorian Football League)," the prime minister wrote in an article for The Herald Sun.
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