Australia parliament passes divisive carbon tax

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard - 18 July 2011 The carbon tax vote is an important victory for Prime Minister Julia Gillard

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Australia's lower house of parliament has narrowly passed a bill for a controversial carbon tax.

The legislation would force about 500 of the biggest polluters to pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.

The tax is central to the government's strategy to combat climate change, but the opposition says it will cause job losses and raise the cost of living.

Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and one of the biggest per capita greenhouse gas emitters.

"Today is a significant day for Australians and the Australians of the future who want to see a better environment," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said before the vote.

After her Clean Energy Bill 2011 was passed with 74 votes for and 72 against, she hugged colleagues and waved to supporters in the public galleries.

Along with a companion bill for A$300m ($298m; £191m) in assistance for the Australian steel industry, it is expected to pass the Senate with the help of the Greens next month.


The victory is an important one for the prime minister, whose popularity with voters in opinion polls has been declining against the opposition.


  • To start on 1 July 2012
  • 500 companies affected
  • Agriculture, forestry and land are exempt
  • Compensation for polluters
  • Market-based trading scheme kicks in from 2015
  • Target to cut 159m tonnes of CO2 by 2020

The bill has polarised Australian opinion. Thousands of people have protested against it, accusing Ms Gillard of lying before last year's election.

Two previous failed attempts to pass similar bills were partly responsible for the fall of her predecessor as prime minister and Labor Party leader, Kevin Rudd.

Ms Gillard made a pledge during last year's federal election not to introduce a carbon tax.

The proposed tax was drawn up after Ms Gillard failed to win an overall majority in parliament at the polls and had to rely on the support of the Greens.

Australia's 500 heaviest polluters will pay A$23 for each tonne of carbon emissions.

The government says nine out of 10 households will be compensated through tax cuts or welfare increases for any increased costs, but the opposition says 60% will be worse off.

The tax will be introduced on 1 July next year, and will then evolve into an emissions trading scheme three years later.

The conservative opposition leader, Tony Abbott, has promised to ditch the tax if he wins office.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Whoopy do! Now how much more coal can we export??? Taxing is NOT the answer. There are other ways to generate power but the oil, gas and coal mogals make sure this will not happen. The cash is far more important to them than the worlds health! A bunch of shortsighted fools!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    This is comendable on the part of Australia but if you are in closed room full of smokers and you say you are going to quit smoking but everybody else still does it then you will die of secondhand smoke all the same. China and the US are regressing. The Republican Tea party nutsos have gutted all enviromental laws and another 'Bush' type will unleash the polluters. It's all nations or nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    "The legislation would force about 500 of the biggest polluters to pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit..."

    Well, job losses and raise in the cost of living will still be unavoidable due to other factors whether this legislation passes or not.

    Better face the 'raise & loss' with cleaner environment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Raising or inventing revenue has never helped you will never see the benefits , as for this carbon tax what a load of rubbish (taxing the air you breath in disguise) oh please what the hell is next having plants gobble up to much CO2, global warming my foot, tax the airlines first they are the major causes in the atmosphere. CO2 floating that high up yeah right people atmospheric pressure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.


    Here is an interesting article from the Huffington Post for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Bandwagon and Jumping come to mind.
    I dont live in OZ but it is a very nice country
    This tax and what follows it will not improve it one bit, if she really wanted to reduce carbon she should have made coal mining illegal.
    They will be taxing our every breath next as there is nothing much left that is not taxed,
    Can I suggest a "Being Born Tax as there are too many of us already on this world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Yes, this is very like the attempts by big business to deny the links between smoking and cancer. This time large vested interests are doing their best to discredit the idea of human contribution to climate change by funding "scientific" rebuttal of research so that they can continue to rape and damage the planet for short term gain. Our generation will be remembered as selfish and short-sighted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    It is amazing that the prime minister told a bald faced lie and question doesn't involve the total dishonesty from the PM,but if it's right to pass the tax ?anything based on a lie is wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    I am afraid to say this reminds me of my Scientist friend who did the research into passive smoking and was told "Those results dont match our requirements - bye". Remember, even if the Greens have us living back in caves, they will still be moaning about "Your cave is better than mine". I have friends in Canada who informed me the Ice was in their area for 3 months monger than normal - GW - Rubbi

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Highway robbery!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Cameron must be falling over himself to bring this to our shores, it fits perfectly with the Conservative way of appearing to do something good when in fact its just another way of squeezing money out of people
    We've already got this @ comsumer level.
    Apart from the unfair emissions based road tax, many items produced using energy has C02 tax included, like new windows

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Carbon taxes put the truth to the lie that is AGW, if it was damaging to the climate they would outright prevent CO2 emissions, instead of licensing it.

    CO2 is not changing the earths temperature, govt spent the last 20 yrs telling you it does (using your own money) , now you believe it and they can tax you some more

    Its just a money making scheme for scientists, politicians and bankers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.


  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    There has been little rational debate on carbon emissions & global warming.

    Why ? because it doesn't make economic sense.

    Most of the arguments are subjective and play up to irrational fears.

    But governments love it, because they can use the fear generated to justify more taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Cant we just make more pencils?

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Those who believe in it have dominated the agenda because it has served cash strapped governments well.

    But the truth is it is like the Emperor's new clothes. The majority believe in it because they are sheep

    Like recycling. Most recycling is uneconomical, with more energy spent than recovered. But it is good for government

    Ask yourself why you never see a properly costed analysis !

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Talk about rushing your fences. Not likely to get through the Senate which will kill it off. While we need to do something this is a stupid knee jerk attempt at solving a problem that is only fractionally ours. A little piece of trivia, every litre of wine produces a litre of CO2 wine is not an environmentally friendly item. Cheers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    The Labor government will not get a second term in Australia due to it's lies and betrayal when it promised not to bring in a carbon tax and when elected did the opposite.Polls have 80 per cent of voters against Labor and it's unwanted tax,most Labor ministers are expected to loose their seats at the next election
    This just sounds like our Labour Govt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    So the pollution stays the same its just big business will use it as an excuse to charge more and make redundancies and then pass the money to the Government.

    Cameron must be falling over himself to bring this to our shores, it fits perfectly with the Conservative way of appearing to do something good when in fact its just another way of squeezing money out of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Is the money gathered by this 'carbon tax' to be ringfenced for spending that directly benefits the environment?

    If not, it's just a scam like all the other opportunistic 'green taxes' that are levied fraudulently and do nothing save push up costs which are, of cause, passed on.


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