Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has told parliament Labor won’t support the repeal of the carbon tax if there is no sensible replacement policy.

Labor will never support repealing the carbon tax if it isn’t replaced with a way to cut pollution.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has started Labor’s reply to the carbon tax repeal laws by saying the party will always support laws that tackle the issues of the future.

“We cannot today or on any day forward support Tony Abbott’s laws, which would leave Australia with no effective means of cutting carbon pollution,” he told parliament on Monday.

Mr Shorten said the government was not just repealing the carbon tax laws.

Its packaging of the bill would kill any possibility of limiting carbon emissions pouring into Australia’s atmosphere, he said.

It was a “unilateral disarmament” of Australia’s defences against climate change and a declaration that this government “finds the future too hard”.

He said the government was saying that, regardless of the science, the best option was to do nothing, that any amount of pollution was acceptable, and people should give their taxes to the big polluters.

“It is climate change policy from central casting if you are a closet climate change denier,” Mr Shorten said.

The government’s direct-action alternative was “a vagrant policy with no visible means of support”.

Mr Shorten said Labor would vote with the government if it could be convinced the government was genuinely dealing with pollution.

The coalition’s first speaker for the bill, South Australian backbencher Rowan Ramsey, whose electorate includes the steel town of Whyalla and mining town of Roxby Downs, said the government was delivering on a rock-solid election commitment that every Australian understood.

Mr Ramsey said both sides agreed on the target of a five per cent emissions reduction by 2020, but were divided over the means to achieve it.

He said Labor’s carbon tax helped Australia’s competitors and contributed to the problems of its manufacturing industries.

The tax also showed the futility of getting too far ahead of the international pack.

Debate on the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and 10 related bills continues.