Keeping our export markets free, open and tax free

Published in The Australian (Wednesday, 4 August 2021)

As a proud and successful trading nation, Australia is a strong supporter of open markets free of the barriers that impede markets for our exporters and drive up prices for Australian consumers. 

The European Union’s push to impose a carbon tax on imports through a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism runs directly counter to this. Implemented, it will see Europe forcing its internal standards and domestic carbon tax on the rest of the world. 

At a time when liberal democracies are working together to rebuild confidence in the benefits of free and open trade, a new wave of protectionism now threatens to sweep across the world. 

This unilateral step, taken outside of the rules-based international system, discriminates against countries like Australia. Countries that provide the raw materials that global supply chains need to create the goods and infrastructure sought after by consumers in Europe and elsewhere.  

It will punish developing countries relying on energy intensive industries to generate the economic growth and jobs that will lift their citizens out of poverty.   

It will punish sectors like aluminium, cement and steel that will be covered in the first phase of this new European protectionism.

Over time, other Australian export sectors like agriculture will be in the firing line. 

Just like Labor’s failed carbon tax, this blunt and regressive policy will disproportionately and unfairly hurt the most vulnerable in society who are unable to absorb the higher cost of everyday items that will result.  

Labor has been silent on this carbon tax.

This tax will be imposed on countries and industries regardless of the progress they are making to curb emissions and fight climate change. 

When it comes to reducing emissions, Australia has a record of achievement we can all be proud of. Between 2005 and 2019, we reduced emissions faster than many similar economies – including Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the United States, and far exceeding the OECD and G20 average. 

Australia leads the world in household solar per person and has the most wind and solar per person of any country outside of Europe.  Growth in renewable energy has been so rapid that by 2030 it will supply more than half of our electricity.

Like our Olympians in Japan, we are taking on this challenge with a clear plan for success.

A plan that recognises practical and affordable solutions, not taxes, are the pathway to achieving net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050.

To achieve this, the Morrison Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap will leverage at least $80 billion of public and mostly private investment over the decade.

Removing the ‘green premium’ – the price difference between existing technologies and low or zero carbon solutions – is the key to global adoption. Getting these technologies to cost parity will mean countries don’t have to choose between growth and decarbonisation.

We’re not alone in this endeavour. Australia is partnering with countries like the UK, Japan, Germany and Singapore to accelerate technologies like clean hydrogen, batteries, carbon capture and recycling, low or zero carbon steel and aluminium and soil carbon measurement. 

These technologies will be essential to slashing emissions around the world. Together, they will help reduce or even eliminate emissions from sectors responsible for 90 per cent of global emissions.

We've recently expanded the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s investment mandate to allow it to support more of these crucial technologies and drive down our emissions further.

In June, Labor sided with the Greens to block these changes and $192 million of new investment in the Australian manufacturing and transport industry, including  hydrogen and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

All up, these programs will create 1,400 jobs and reduce Australia's emissions by 16.5 million tonnes.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon correctly called his Party’s approach for what it was – ideological craziness.   

The same Labor-Greens coalition that forced a carbon tax on Australian workers when they were last in government, remains alive and well.   

By voting against the Government’s technology-led approach to reducing emissions and remaining silent in the face of Europe’s threat to impose carbon taxes on other countries, Labor is showing where they stand under Anthony Albanese.  

Labor is for taxes and is against blue-collar Australian workers. Labor is willing to stand by and let other countries impose that tax for them.

Labor now has a chance to prove us all wrong and demonstrate they are against taxes and in favour of technology driven approaches to emissions reduction. 

The world needs a plan to reduce emissions that all countries can get behind. A technology not taxes approach is just what we need.