Australia carbon tax clears vital vote

Australia’s planned national carbon price is a step closer to implementation after a narrow victory in a vote over the scheme in the country’s House of Representatives.

Legislators backed the plan to introduce a carbon tax on about 500 of Australia’s larger polluters from 2012 by 74 votes to 72. A carbon trade scheme would then be launched in 2015.

Carbon legislation along with a bill to assist the steel industry with A$300m ($299m) must still face a vote in the Senate next month. But Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government can expect to find enough votes in the upper house to ensure the bills pass into law.

Australia is ranked the world’s highest per-capita polluter due to its reliance on coal fired generation for about 80 per cent of its electricity.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is leading the third attempt to set a carbon price in Australia. Two previous attempts failed in 2009.

Tony Abbott, the leader of opposition, has already made a “pledge in blood” to repeal the tax if his Liberal Party, as expected, wins an election due in two years.

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