Australian Opposition Leader addresses anti-carbon-tax rally

14:48, March 23, 2011      

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By Vienna Ma

Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on Wednesday addressed an anti-carbon-tax rally outside Parliament House in Canberra.

Earlier, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that she plans to introduce a tax on carbon emitters from July 2012.

Opposition has then accused Gillard of breaking her election promise not to introduce a carbon tax.

Organized by 2GB broadcaster Chris Smith and the Consumers and Taxpayers Association, the rally was attended by about 3000 protesters include members of 22 community groups, including the Climate Skeptics political party, the right-wing National Civic Council and the Coalition of Law Abiding Sporting Shooters.

The rally's speaker to audience, former rock star Angry Anderson, told the crowd that Gillard was "a Pinocchio puppet manipulated by the Greens".

Placards included: "Australia hates liars", with a picture of a long-nosed Gillard; and "Ditch the Witch", featuring a drawing of Gillard on a broomstick.

Addressing the rally in Canberra, Abbott insisted human-induced climate change was real, but the carbon tax was not the answer to the problem.

He told the crowd Gillard did not have a mandate for the carbon tax and called for a fresh election to test the federal government 's plan for a carbon tax.

"If the argument is as strong as she says, trust the people to know the truth - go back and have a vote and we will accept the outcome," he told the crowd in Canberra on Wednesday.

Abbott strengthened his cost of living attack on the proposed carbon tax, telling protesters the measure would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

He said with the tax, Australians'power bills would rise by 303 U.S. dollars a year, the cost of petrol per liter would rise 6. 6 U.S. cents and would cost the average household an extra 2,022 U. S. dollars a year.

He said the tax would also cost 10,000 jobs in the coal sector, 24,000 jobs in mining and 45,000 in energy-intensive industry.

"Any government which puts a 2,022 U.S. dollars a year tax on the average household and then says please be grateful, here's 303 U.S. dollars or 404 U.S. dollars, or 1,010 U.S. dollars, back in your pocket - that is not tax reform that is a tax mirage," Abbott said.

Dozens of police are monitoring the demonstration.

Meanwhile, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Ged Kearney on Wednesday morning got in ahead of the anti-carbon tax activists, delivering a supportive petition to Climate Change Minister Greg Combet in Canberra.

Combet said the government was honoring a commitment to consult business over its proposed carbon tax.

Gillard said the ACTU petition had been signed by about 10,000 "working Australians" urging the government to take action on climate change.

She declined to say whether she would address the rally, but backed the right of others to protest.

The Australian newspaper reported that similar rallies have been called in other capitals across the nation, while protest group GetUp! was organizing rival protests to throw support to the carbon tax.

Source: Xinhua
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