Barely a week after it came into full swing, talks of revising the carbon tax swirled as Independent MP Rob Oakeshott further pushed on his campaign for the federal government to drop the $15 floor price from the scheme.
The floor price kicks in once the $23 per tonne fixed charge expires on 2015, which in turn will be replaced by the new level, with increments of four per cent over the next three years.
However, Mr Oakeshott said that the price imposed by Australia on pollution-producing firms was totally out of sync with international standards, citing for example the charges in Europe for permits, which start at $10 per tonne.
The country's carbon floor price could in the long run hurt market confidence and defeat the long-term core purpose of allowing the emission trading scheme to take price levels dictated by the market, the member from Lynne told ABC yesterday.
He also implied that consultations involving affected industry players and parliamentary colleagues were now underway, which was partially affirmed on Thursday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
But she quickly added that nothing unusual was happening at all as far as the carbon tax is concerned.
"We're consulting on the floor price and there's nothing new in that," ABC reported Ms Gillard as saying.
Her position, as expected, was echoed by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, who admitted that discussions were taking place but "at all levels ... and from time to time."
"I'm not getting into the hypotheticals of that ... we've got a fixed price for three years," Mr Swan was quoted by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying.
In a reaction, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who has vowed to repeal the measure once he becomes prime minister, said he was not surprised that "the carbon tax has only been in place for five days, and already they're talking about how to fix it."
He called on Ms Gillard and Mr Swan to inform the public if indeed changes will be implemented on the tax, if only to avoid chaos and confusion.
"(But there's only one way to fix it (the carbon price), and that's to get rid of it," Mr Abbott suggested.
But Greens leader Christine Milne has reiterated on Wednesday that her party and the government already brushed aside the likelihood of jettisoning the floor price from the carbon tax.
Her Greens colleague, Senator Scott Ludlam, told ABC that no benefits would be reaped in pushing down the pricing level of the tax.
"Firstly, it's not raising the revenue that you need to support the new industries coming through, and secondly, it doesn't act as a disincentive," Mr Ludlam said.
Also, the idea that there exists a definite price level in the carbon tax would lead to the steady generation of employment opportunities within a green economy, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said in a statement.
"We need a firm price on pollution, not one that goes up and down like a yo-yo," ACF spokeswoman Claire Maries pointed out.
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