Legislating to float the carbon price

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In what must rank as a near-record time from media statement to draft legislation, the Australian government this week released draft bills to accelerate its policy of floating the carbon price. This follows its announcements earlier this month that the current carbon scheme would shift from the current fixed-price regime to a floating price on 1 July 2014, one year earlier than planned. While mechanical in parts, the draft legislation includes the first written confirmation on a number of important policy elements.

With the next Australian election looking increasingly likely to interrupt the parliamentary timetable, the fate of these amendments (and the current carbon scheme) appears largely dependent on the election outcome. Even if the government is returned at the next election, the amendments are unlikely to be passed until late 2013.

By bringing forward the start of emissions trading, the proposed amendments allow Australian businesses to access the international carbon markets, which should reduce the carbon cost for 2014–15…

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