A MASSIVE tax grab or an environmental saviour?
Whatever your position is on the introduction of the federal government's tax, it's now a reality.
The debate over its introduction has been as fierce as any significant economic reform in recent memory — certainly since the Goods and Services Tax.
As the nation's two major parties have played political pinball, the facts have often been distorted, amplified, dismissed and countered. It's a good time to remind everyone just what the fuss is about.
Simply, the nation's 500 biggest polluters will now start paying a $23-a-tonne carbon price.
The flow-on impact will be an increase in the cost of all types of consumables and services.
To counter such increases, the government has created a range of compensation measures for households and pensioners.
In effect, Australians will be able to judge the effect of the carbon tax for themselves.
And it is likely the sky won't fall in, as those listening to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott might have suspected.
This said, it will also be difficult to assess the success or otherwise of a carbon price on a national or international level in terms of the impact on emissions.
While there is little doubt big polluters will be forced to change their ways in Australia, our solution is a positive step in an otherwise ambivalent world approach to accepting a low carbon future.
In Ballarat, how our already under pressure manufacturing sector deals with carbon pricing will be just once facet of the debate.
Councils have blamed the introduction of carbon pricing for increasing pressures on budgets and welfare groups are concerned about how the poorest in our communities will cope with increased cost of living pressures.
These same issues are reflected in hundreds of communities across the nation.
It is true that the most significant changes in the operation of modern societies never come without pain.
Even if, as the government says, its carbon reduction policies are the best approach for the environment, it has failed to resonate with the general public.
The government, according to the polls, is headed for a massive election defeat largely on the back of opposition to the tax.
The introduction of measures to reduce human-induced emissions will become the norm in coming decades across the world.
How Australia looks back at this time in our political history might well be much different to today's perceptions.