Here’s all the questions dogged ABC Radio journalist Samantha Hawley asked Environment Minister Greg Hunt this morning on the repeal of the carbon tax:
“… so that statement that you, that 2013/14 will be the last financial year that the carbon tax will apply, you cannot guarantee that.”
“… will business still have to pay the tax after July 1 if the bills haven’t passed?”
“… if your bills don’t pass before then, will business still have to pay the tax after July 1?”
“… what happens if the bills don’t pass the Senate and does business still have to pay the tax after July next year if they don’t?”
“Will business still have to pay the tax after that date and will it be for a full financial year?”
“And if the bill hasn’t passed though?”
“But now you’re not telling the Australian people what you’ll do if a scenario which is likely happens …?”
“… when I ask you what will happen if that isn’t passed on July 1 for business in this country, you can’t or you won’t answer that question?”
“Okay, so it will be retrospective?”
“Will it be retrospective; that is that companies will be repaid the money that they’ve paid on the tax since July the 1st next year?”
To which Hunt, obfuscating every time, simply concluded: “We’re getting way ahead of ourselves.”
Perhaps — nobody expects a weeks-old government to have finalised and enacted their policy platform, particularly with a hostile Senate until next July. But Hunt is going to need a better answer for the next nine months. His government campaigned, hell-bent, for the removal of the carbon price from the day it was announced. Tony Abbott won an election on that campaign. Now the Coalition has to deliver. At the very least, it needs a plan for the inevitable: when Labor joins with the Greens in blocking any move to repeal carbon pricing legislation while the current Senate sits.
As Paddy Manning reports for Crikey today, there’s very little in the government’s draft legislation to suggest how it will deliver on its promise, its solemn vow, to stop business — and consumers — from paying the carbon tax.