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Carbon Tax goes through parliament

embraceaustraliaadmin | Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Power station

Australia's biggest economic reform for a generation will target its 500 worst polluters

The Australian parliament votes today on radical plans to impose a Carbon Tax on the worst industrial polluters have gathered momentum.

The political arena has experienced more than a year of heated debates, rising drama and numerous U-turns on the subject, and the bill has been hailed as one of the most important changes to economic policy Australia has ever seen.

Australia is one of the world’s worst offenders for greenhouse gas emissions per capita – thanks to large-scale industrial activity (fossil fuels a speciality) but a relatively small population.

Following a U-turn on her initial manifesto, prime minister Julia Gillard announced in July that carbon emissions would be taxed at A$23 per tonne from 2012, in a bid to make companies, rather than taxpayers, pay for the damage they cause to the planet. Australia’s most-polluting 500 companies will be subject to the tax, and all proceeds are to be ploughed back into developing renewable energy for homes and businesses, as well as given to poor families and state pensioners.

The Prime Minister said today that her party will vote for “a clean energy future, for reducing carbon pollution, for enabling economic growth without increases in carbon pollution, and for putting more money into the hands of pensioners, working Australians who need it the most, and people raising families.”

Support is divided among Australians. In the major cities, demonstrations have been held in recent months in support of the carbon tax and its ‘Robin Hood’ undertones,  while industrial and financial leaders naturally oppose the move, saying it will damage Australia’s economic competitiveness. One MP who vociferously supported the clean energy proposals has even received death threats in her mail.

Consumer prices – including food and fuel – are likely to be affected if producers pass on the cost of the levy to their customers, and could rise by 0.7 per cent.

The countries of the EU and New Zealand all currently impose a (lower) carbon tax rate on industrial polluters.

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