The carbon tax reaped the federal government just over $4.1 billion in 2012/13 – about $1.2 billion less than expected, new figures show.
The Clean Energy Regulator on Friday reported that 350 companies and local councils liable for the carbon tax of $23 a tonne of emissions surrendered $6.531 billion in permits.
But because the former Labor government provided 132 of these liable entities with more than 104 million free permits, valued at just over $2.395 billion, the net figure came to $4.14 billion.
The Gillard government originally expected the gross figure to be $7.7 billion in carbon tax revenue.
Five power companies – Macquarie Generation, Great Energy Alliance, Delta Electricity, National Power Australia and Stanwell – accounted for almost half of the revenue, or $2.03 billion.
Four companies were singled out as not having paid their share, including billionaire Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel which the CER listed as owing over $6 million in carbon tax.
Mr Palmer is challenging the company’s carbon tax liability in the High Court.
Climate Institute chief John Connor said the carbon pricing scheme was working to bring down emissions.
“The government’s own data estimates the carbon laws will reduce pollution by almost 40 million tonnes by July 2014,” Mr Connor told AAP.
“The laws make big polluters take responsibility for their pollution – repeal will just return them to an entitlement to pollute for free and access a taxpayer subsidy should they wish to take some action.”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the carbon tax was an attack on the entire Australian economy.
“Despite a $7.6 billion tax, emissions for the first 12 months barely changed by 0.1 per cent,” he said.
Manufacturing was slugged $1.1 billion – putting pressure on jobs, he said.
A further $1 billion hit business through reduced fuels tax credits, and through charges on the refrigeration and aviation industries.