Australia introduces carbon tax

2012-07-01 17:55


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Sydney - Australia on Sunday introduced a controversial carbon tax in a bid to tackle climate change, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard hailing the move amid opposition warnings it will stifle industry.

The tax on corporate pollution, which drew thousands of protesters on to the streets of Sydney on Sunday, will mean some 350 entities will be liable to pay $23.5 for every tonne of carbon emissions they produce.

It comes into effect on the same day as an equally contentious levy on mining profits, the hard-fought Minerals Resource Rent Tax on iron ore and coal, which helped topple former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Gillard hailed the introduction of the carbon tax in Australia, one of the world's worst per capita polluters.

"As a Labour government, we haven't done all of this for no reason, we've done it because we believe it's pivotal to Australia's future," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Today is a Sunday where Australians will go about their ordinary lives, but today is a day too when we seize the future, we seize a clean energy future."

The government hopes the scheme will mean that by 2020, Australia's carbon pollution will be at least 159 million tons less per year than it would be otherwise - the equivalent, it says, of taking 45 million cars off the road.

The plan is to start with a fixed price and transition to a market-based emissions trading scheme after three years, similar to that adopted by the European Union.

But the tax has been bitterly opposed by the conservative opposition, which argues it will see the cost of living soar as businesses pass their increased costs onto consumers as well as hurt industry.

The pollution levy is a deeply divisive issue in Australia, fuelling anger after Gillard pledged there would be no carbon tax under a government she led ahead of the 2010 election but, then once elected, set out to introduce one.

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Read more on:    julia gillard  |  australia  |  environment

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