Unpopular Carbon Tax Plan Goes to Australia’s Parliament

Posted September 13th, 2011 at 2:40 am (UTC-5)
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Australia's government has formally introduced legislation for a controversial carbon tax that has deeply damaged the ruling party's popularity.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday her government is committed to pushing through the law, which would force major polluters to pay a tax on carbon emissions. A similar plan was twice rejected by parliament in 2009.

Ms. Gillard's Labor Party has support for the plan from the environmentally minded Greens Party and a handful of independents, giving it a razor-thin one-seat majority. But the opposition Liberals have savaged the scheme, saying it will drive up the cost of basic commodities for all Australians.

Public unhappiness with the plan has helped drive Ms. Gillard's approval rating to the lowest level for any prime minister in 17 years.

The plan is aimed at reducing climate change-causing carbon emissions to 95 percent of 2000 levels by the year 2020.

The European Union and New Zealand already have emission trading schemes while smaller regional plans exist in Japan and the United States.