Australia Treasurer: Carbon Tax Will Pass

Posted August 28th, 2011 at 8:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Australia's Treasurer predicts carbon-tax legislation will pass parliament, despite being mired by controversy.

In an interview with Sky News Sunday, Wayne Swan said the bill will go to parliament where it will be debated and passed quickly even though there is a minority government.

Last month, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced plans to charge 500 of Australia's biggest polluters $24 for each ton of their respective carbon emissions, starting next July. After three years, a market-based emissions trading scheme would replace the fixed tax.

The opposition has accused her of harming the country's economy. But supporters say Australia's coal-dependent economy is more carbon intensive than many others and that pollution must be curbed.

The levy is part of Australia's biggest economic reform in a generation. The government has promised compensation to steel makers, coal miners and electricity generators to ensure they stay in business.

The carbon-trading plan was a divisive issue in last year's elections which left Ms. Gillard with the barest majority in the lower house of parliament. Her Labor Party secured support from the Greens and three independent members to form a minority government. The upper house is controlled by the conservative opposition which has said it would never charge polluters because families would end up paying the cost.

But Swan said Sunday that the May federal budget, the first under the minority government arrangement, passed more quickly than any of his previous budgets.