Australian PM opens on carbon tax call

19:40, September 16, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday said she will not rule in or out the prospect of introducing a carbon tax in Australia.

Thursday morning, Gillard refused to commit to a specific timetable, but she reinforced her commitment to convening a cross- party committee to discuss the issue of carbon pricing.

In a call to action, the world's biggest mining company BHP Billiton on Wednesday night shocked the business community by urging the Federal Government to take leadership on a carbon tax.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said the Government should not wait for a global price to be put on carbon before it moves to substantially reduce the nation's carbon emissions, adding that Australia also needed to lower its dependence on coal-fired power generation while warning consumers should shoulder some of the added cost.

His comments have drawn broad support from industry which has been looking for certainty on the issue of carbon pricing.

"I welcome the statements from Mr Kloppers," Gillard told ABC News.

"Obviously many members of the business community, Mr Kloppers included, have made statements and have called over quite a long period of time now for Government to deal with the question of pricing carbon," she said.

"It's absolutely no secret after particularly the election campaign that the Government believes we need to work towards a price on carbon. The Government has consistently said we want to work towards a price on carbon.

"We obviously have indicated we think a market-based mechanism can provide that price.

"But we have also agreed with the Greens and more broadly that we will have an inclusive climate change committee to work towards a better way of addressing climate change in Australia."

But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said introducing a carbon tax would hurt Australia's international competitiveness, and is urging Gillard to reject the idea.

"This idea that we here in Australia should put a big tax on our businesses and on our consumers in the absence of similar action from other countries would just put our exports at a terrible competitive disadvantage," Abbott said.

"It's really up to the Government now to confirm post-election what it said pre-election, that they completely reject a carbon tax."

Meanwhile, the Greens said BHP Billiton is showing common sense by advocating a carbon price.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:李牧(实习))

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