JUDITH IRELAND June 20, 2012
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during question time in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares
Depending on whether you think the carbon tax will be a cobra strike, python squeeze or enviro-economic miracle, there's one thing we can all be happy about. Come July 1, the carbon tax debate will be finito.
The tax will be here and people can either get on with ducking as the sky caves in or erecting statues in praise of the Greens.
Right? Well, as it turns out, the Coalition has other ideas. The tax may be legislated, the list of liable entities may be listed and the ''household assistance package'' ads showing on a digital TV near you, but Tony Abbott and his Coalition crew are not done debating. They have pledged to repeal the carbon tax if they are victorious at the next election, but it would seem they can't wait that long. Indeed, just when you though it was safe to ponder a life free of slogans like ''Bad tax based on a lie'', Abbott told his colleagues yesterday that in the fortnight following July 1, he would traverse the country to ''actively'' campaign against the carbon tax. Nationals Leader Warren Truss added that the carbon tax issue would ''not be over'' next month. It would ''go on and on and on.'' Later, during question time, the Coalition kept its eyes firmly on the carbon prize.
What about electricity price rises? Council rates? Foundries? Kids' literacy? (Christopher Pyne managed to draw a link between reading and the carbon tax).
Granted, despite all this, the Opposition still found the time to ask about the Buff-banded Rail bird. In the last gasps of question time, border protection spokesman Michael Keenan asked Wayne Swan to confirm that an asylum seeker boat had arrived at Cocos Islands carrying a breed of rat that will ''eat the eggs and kill the chicks of the world's last remaining population of these Cocos Buff-banded Rail birds''.
Swan could only reply with a verbal shrug. ''I cannot confirm that,'' he said, before resuming his seat (I'm only the acting Prime Minister. And you expect me to know about Buff birds?!). With Swan concluding question time after the very next Dixer, the Coalition must have been disappointed they couldn't quiz Swan further on the rodent matter. But others were disappointed they couldn't swap the Buff-banded Rail bird with the carbon tax debate. If something had to face extinction, there was a great contender. And it wasn't the water birds.