HOUSEHOLDS and businesses will feel it deeper in the hip-pocket from tomorrow as electricity, gas, water, council rates and other bills set to increase with the start of the carbon tax and other financial-year changes.
Electricity costs will be the biggest shock. Domestic bills will increase an average of 18 per cent - about half of which has been blamed on the carbon tax - while regulated gas prices will climb between nine and 15 per cent.
But on the eve of the start of its pollution pricing regime, the federal government said most low and middle-income families would be better off under the carbon tax through its household assistance package that includes a boost in welfare payments and tax cuts.
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The scheme, which begins tomorrow, will charge the nation's biggest polluters including mines and power stations $23 per tonne of carbon emitted, in an effort to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 159 million tonnes in 2020.
Households do not have to pay the tax, but their average costs would rise by $9.90 a week including $3.30 on electricity, $1.50 on gas and less than $1 on food, for which they would be compensated by the government.
"I am convinced that it's the right thing for the country," Federal Climate Change minister and Charlton MP Greg Combet said of the new carbon pricing system.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott pledged yesterday that the Coalition would repeal the tax should it win office, with the opposition arguing it will cost regions like the Hunter thousands of jobs.
The state-owned Macquarie Generation, which operates the Upper Hunter's Liddell and Bayswater power station, expects to be among the hardest hit by the tax, which would cost it about $530 million in the first year.
Also among the 294 entities to be charged are Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Newcastle City Councils, who will be liable in a year's time for emissions from their landfill sites and expect to pay millions.
Hunter residents and businesses are already facing council rate increases from tomorrow. Those in Lake Macquarie and Newcastle will need the deepest pockets, after their councils received approval to increase rates above a cap of 3.6 per cent.
Rates bills in Newcastle will be $81 dearer on average in 2012-13. Lake Macquarie residents will pay $93 more.
Other cost increases including taxi fares, which are expected to rise by 3.2 per cent when n overdue final pricing decision is handed down, as well as childcare costs and Hunter Water bills, which will increase by about $40.
would rise by $9.90 a week including $3.30 on electricity, $1.50 on gas and less than $1 on food, for which they would receive government compensation.
Federal Climate Change minister and Charlton MP Greg Combet said the new carbon pricing system was ‘‘the right thing for the country’’.
‘‘It will be environmentally effective, it’s economically responsible, thinks about future generations, plays our fair part in the international community tackling climate change and it’s socially fair,’’ he said yesterday.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott pledged the Coalition would immediately repeal the tax should it win office, with the opposition arguing it would cost regions like the Hunter thousands of jobs.
‘‘I assure the Australian people that what the parliament has done the parliament can undo,’’ Mr Abbott said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who gave an election promise not to introduce a carbon tax, has urged voters to make up their own minds.
Ms Gillard acknowledged in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that the politics surrounding the reform had been tough for Labor, but she forecast the politics would change.
‘‘People will know we’re living with a price on carbon, they’ll know what its effects are, they’ll know that we’re making a journey towards a cleaner energy future because you will see cleaner sources of energy coming on stream,’’ she said.
‘‘People will judge from those kind of facts. I don’t think the politics in the lead-up will be what people ultimately judge [us] on.’’