Australian parliament passes divisive carbon tax

October 12, 2011 by Madeleine Coorey
Conveyor belts carry coal from the open cut mine to the Loy Yang B power station in the Latrobe Valley, 150km east of Melbourne. Australia's lower house on Wednesday passed a contentious new tax on carbon pollution to combat climate change which has angered many voters and threatens Prime Minister Julia Gillard's hold on power.

Australia's lower house on Wednesday passed a contentious new tax on carbon pollution to combat climate change which has angered many voters and threatens Prime Minister Julia Gillard's hold on power.

After years of heated debate, the government won the count on what it said was the most important environmental and economic reform in a generation.

"Today is a significant day for Australians and the Australians of the future who want to see a better environment," Gillard said ahead of the parliamentary vote, which must now win approval in the upper house Senate.

The deeply divisive levy will mean the nation's biggest producers of will be forced to "pay to pollute" from July 1, 2012 -- initially at a fixed price before moving to a market-based trading scheme.

Government ministers embraced and clapped after the vote, with Julia Gillard exchanging kisses with the man she ousted to become leader, Kevin Rudd, in the celebrations.

But the prime minister was later repeatedly heckled during Question Time by scores of protesters in the public gallery, who accused Gillard of breaking election promises and chanted "democracy is dead" and "no mandate".

"The people are very angry and frustrated and don't know what to do because the government says they are of no consequence," said one of the demonstrators, Peter Madden, after being asked to leave the gallery.

File photo shows Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard (L) presenting the government's carbon emissions fact sheets at Parliament House in Canberra in June 2011.

The tax bills are expected to pass in the Greens party-controlled Senate next month, and the government says it will soon begin discussions on linking the scheme to other carbon markets.

Australia, one of the world's worst per capita and a major exporter of coal, has long grappled with how to combat climate change but previous bills to introduce schemes have been defeated.

While Gillard managed to get her Clean 2011 through parliament 74 votes to 72, it is bitterly contested by the conservative opposition which argues it will be ineffective, cut jobs and increase the cost of living.

The row over climate change has brought down former prime minister Rudd and two leaders of the opposition in the last two years and made Gillard extremely unpopular with voters.

Thousands protested at rallies nationwide against the levy, accusing Gillard of lying when she said ahead of her narrow August 2010 election win that there would be no carbon tax under a government she led.

The parliamentary win comes amid speculation that Rudd -- who is far more popular with the electorate than the dismally-polling Gillard -- will mount a challenge to her leadership.

An anti-carbon tax protest encircles the Parliament House ring road in Canberra in August 2011. While Gillard managed to get her Clean Energy Bill 2011 through parliament 74 votes to 72, it is bitterly opposed by the conservative opposition

And it follows the embarrassing failure of Gillard's plan to send boatpeople to Malaysia, after the deal was ruled invalid by the High Court.

The prime minister, who leads a minority coalition with the Greens and three independent MPs, defended the government's campaign in favour of its carbon tax, which opinion polls show is opposed by a majority of voters.

"The vast majority of Australians believe in climate change," Gillard said.

But opposition leader Tony Abbott accused the prime minister of "betraying the Australian people with the introduction of the world's biggest ".

He gave a "pledge in blood" to repeal the tax if elected to government at the next national polls -- not expected until late 2013.

Environmental groups welcomed approval of the levy, which they hope will help secure the future of national treasures such as the Great Barrier Reef and encourage greater global action on .

The tax, which will place a fixed price of Aus$23 (US$22.83) per tonne on for the first three years before shifting to a market-based trading scheme, aims to cut emissions by 80 percent of 2000 levels by 2050.

Explore further: Cheers as Australia's carbon tax hits parliament

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1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 13, 2011
Thanks for the intriguing story.

Worldwide political leaders seem to be acting independently of the opinions of citizens.

A report published by Sandia Labs last year suggests that climate change is a matter of national security in the United States.


If so, it is almost treason to misrepresent information about:

a.) Earths heat source the Sun, and
b.) Earths global surface temperatures

See Comment #53 on

And Comments #5 and #13 on
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
If so, it is almost treason to misrepresent information about:

a.) Earths heat source the Sun, and
b.) Earths global surface temperatures

Youve commited another crime if it is oliver, not as bad as molesting and sodomizing your own children like you were already charged and convicted with in the past. I dont think your sex offender probation officer would like to hear youve been involved in another unlawful act while accusing others of it and trying to pretend you are in the right morally.
1 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2011
Today as world economies teeter on the brink of collapse - with liberals blaming conservatives and occupying Wall street while conservatives blame liberals and organize Tea Parties - I weep on behalf of Thomas Jefferson [1] for future generations of all nations that were betrayed by leaders of the scientific community [2] for four decades (1971-2011):

"I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it" [1].


1. "Thomas Jefferson letter to John Holmes (22 April 1820)"

2. Deep roots of the Climategate scandal (1971-2011)
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Bravo! Brovo! There is somebody on this planet that finally gets it. MAN-FreekIng-MADE GLOBAL WARMING is like the killer asteroid of our time. It's there and getting closer and closer and soon "BAM!" it's too late. Global warming is the same thing, but the difference is we can do something about. We can shout down the idiot trolls that deny man-made-global warming.
We can scream in their faces louder than they can!

Join the revolution and SCREAM AT A TROLL!
not rated yet Nov 28, 2011
It seem that they think if they get us to beleive a tax can pay for the problem it will somehow repair global warming.
As a result if we pay the tax we will be exemt from the blame for global warming.
Meanwhile the warming trend is a natural phenomena that ocurs in a cicle of the planet.
The carbon tax is nothing more than a way to line the pocket of investors that sell the tax credits.
Global warming is nothing more than an invention to make money.

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