THE Senate has rejected the first of the Government’s Carbon Tax Repeal bills with Labor and the Greens combining to vote it down.
Parliament’s upper house voted 38 to 29 against further debate on a bill to scrap the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, effectively defeating the legislation.
It was the first of the package of 11 bills to repeal the carbon tax, in line with a coalition election promise.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said abolition of the corporation was a priority for the government and a commitment Prime Minister Tony Abbott took to the September 7 election.
The government had the strong support of voters who rejected Labor at the poll, he said.
“Labor takes the position they have flagged in this chamber today at their peril.”
The CEFC was set up by the Gillard government to help finance clean energy projects.
Labor has condemned its abolition, saying it returned about $200 million a year to the budget.
But Senator Cormann said scrapping the CEFC would save money because the corporation had to raise funds at public debt borrowing rates, which Labor senators had ignored.
CEFC chair Jillian Broadbent, a former member of the Reserve Bank of Australia board, last week pleaded with the government to reconsider its plan, saying the corporation had made a profit and helped curb carbon emissions.
Labor senators condemned the move to abolish the CEFC, saying it would hurt the government’s ability to reach its emissions reduction targets.
“It will cost the taxpayer more to shut this corporation down than Abbott says it will save,” Labor senator Glenn Sterle said.
Labor colleague Ursula Stephens said the coalition was taking a “very important, potent policy tool” away from its direct action plan.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013 cannot be reintroduced for three months.
If it is rejected a second time, the government will have a double-dissolution trigger.