500 biggest polluting companies to pay carbon price: Australian PM

13:49, July 07, 2011      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday said about 500 of the biggest polluting companies will pay the full carbon price, and small business will not be hit with extra red tape.

The government will on Sunday unveil all the details of its emissions trading scheme, which will start with a fixed price for carbon from July 1, 2012.

Gillard said a smaller number than the originally estimated 1000 businesses would pay the full price.

The 500 largest polluting companies who will pay the tax include coal-fired electricity generators, mining companies, and steel and aluminum manufacturers.

"This figure of 500 strongly reinforces the point that this is a price being paid by a limited number of big businesses -- it is not being (directly) paid by Australian families," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

With about three million businesses in Australia, the latest announcement means only 0.02 percent of them will be directly liable under the carbon tax.

Gillard added that there would be no new forms or red tape for small business under the carbon tax.

"They don't need to do anything except keep operating their small business," the prime minister said.

Earlier, Gillard also announced that fuel for private motorists will be excluded from the carbon tax. However, Opposition Leader Abbott said if a carbon tax did not raise the price of fuels, "it doesn't work."

The Greens' member of parliament Adam Bandt also said the exclusion of petrol from the carbon price is "disappointing."

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