THE Abbott government has begun softening the ground for a belated repeal of the carbon tax, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt promising only to ditch the tax as of June 30 next year.
Mr Hunt spoke at the Australian Sustainability Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, outlining the government's environmental plans.
And despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott previously promising to introduce legislation on day one of parliamentary sittings, Mr Hunt said only that the legislation would repeal the tax from June 30, 2014.
His comments come as the government faces several months of delay to what Mr Abbott has called "a mandate", with Labor and The Greens likely to block any repeal in the Senate.
While the government plans to introduce the new laws into the parliament immediately, if the laws cannot be passed before the deadline, they may need to be backdated once the new Senate is sworn-in.
Such a move would create the same result, but avoid a double dissolution election, which the Coalition has previously threatened should Labor and The Greens block it.
Mr Hunt would not be drawn on whether or not the Coalition would still go to an election over the policy, but either way, the pressure will ease once the new Senate is sworn in next July.
He said the removal of the carbon tax would coincide with the introduction of the Coalition's direct action plan, which centres on paying polluters incentives to cut emissions.
That plan includes paying more than $1.5 billion in incentives to Australia's biggest polluters, and planting 20 million trees in urban areas, among other things.