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Carbon tax debate 'will continue for some time': Combet
People hoping for some relief from the carbon tax debate after the pollution price begins in 10 days shouldn't hold their breath, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says.
The minister responsible for Labor's controversial tax insists it will be business as usual after July 1 - both for the community and for politicians engaged in a war of words over the impact of the regime.
Combet said on Wednesday that for the "overwhelming majority" of companies it would be business as usual once the $23-a-tonne cost was imposed because just 300 major emitters will pay the tax.
But he still expects Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to ramp up his scare campaign.
"This argument and debate will continue for some time to come," he told the National Press Club.
"I think right up to the next election."
Combet said Labor would argue its case, and win the argument, because pricing pollution was the right thing to do.
He expects if a natural disaster forces up the price of bananas Abbott - being a "gutless political opportunist" - will blame Labor's new tax.
"But the carbon debate is now moving from fiction to fact, from rhetoric to real world experience," Combet said.
"And gradually Mr Abbott will be exposed."
Combet believes July 1 will be a test of the carbon price and Abbott's leadership.
Australians aren't so self-focused they aren't prepared to take out insurance against the impact of climate change for future generations, he said.
"I don't think Australian people are like that and I think that lived experience will make a difference to community attitudes."
But the climate change minister wasn't on the front foot for the entirety of his press club address.
He was quizzed about Labor's own "opportunistic power grab" which saw the party shelve plans for an emissions trading scheme prior to the 2010 election and then put it back on the table to win over the Australian Greens.
"Yes, there were different stances taken during the election," Combet responded.
"Yes, we negotiated the formation of minority government following that election and yes, we returned to our original policy position as a consequence."
But he insisted it had long been Labor policy to put a price on pollution and the government had tried to do so between 2007 and 2010.