Carbon tax protesters gather in Victoria of Australia

18:32, March 12, 2011      

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A carbon tax battle has extended from political field onto the streets of Melbourne, Australia on Saturday.

On Saturday, 400 protesters gathered with Liberal Victorian senators Mitch Fifield and Scott Ryan to protest against the price on carbon outside Prime Minister Julia Gillard's electorate office in Werribee, Victoria.

Meanwhile, at Treasury Place in Melbourne's city, an estimated 8,000 protesters gathered to support the prime minister's carbon tax plan and call for action on climate change.

Earlier, the Australian federal government announced its plan to introduce a fixed price on carbon from July 2012. The carbon tax will then morph into an emissions trading scheme in three or five years time.

The details of the carbon tax and the amount of compensation are yet to be determined.

According to an organizer of the pro-tax rally, Paul Mackay, supporters for the carbon price plan had won the battle.

"We were overwhelmed with the amount of people that came out - the entirety of Treasury Place was packed," he told Australia Associated Press (AAP) on Saturday.

"It certainly eclipsed that of the anti-carbon tax rally.

"The message was loud and clear that there are plenty of Melburnians who are happy to, on their Saturday morning, come out and rally for swift and effective measures to reduce our greenhouse pollution."

Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, said the numbers at the big numbers of pro- carbon tax rally showed the majority of Australians wanted action on climate change.

However, Senator Fifield, who addressed anti-carbon tax protesters, said pricing carbon would be a tax on everything that achieved nothing.

"The several hundred people rallying in front of Julia Gillard' s office on a Melbourne long weekend demonstrates the anger and betrayal felt by the community over the Prime Minister's carbon tax lie," he told AAP on Saturday, adding that the prime minister last year made an election promise of not introducing a carbon tax.

Amid fierce debate about the government's carbon tax plan, the federal government's key climate adviser, Ross Garnaut on Friday released the fifth update to his 2008 report on climate change, specifically tackling climate science.

He also released specific data on temperature, sea level rises and extreme events from recent years.

Professor Garnaut warned the scientific case for climate change had strengthened the position that the Earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.

Australian National University Crawford School of Economics professor Jeff Bennett, however, said it is a mistake for Australia to set a price for carbon before other countries do, and the government's policy will disadvantage local exporters.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also launched attack on the carbon tax plan, saying that it is an assault on the Australian people's standard of living, as the carbon tax meant people would pay 300 U.S. dollars more a year on their electricity bills and 6. 5 U.S. cents a liter extra for petrol, which would add about three U.S. dollars to the cost of a tank of petrol.

After the announcement on carbon tax plan, a latest poll on Tuesday showed primary vote for federal Labor slump six points to 30 percent, the lowest on record.

Source: Xinhua

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