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Australian Opposition launches attack on carbon tax in parliamentary debate

(Xinhua)

16:19, September 14, 2011

CANBERRA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on Wednesday launched a vehement attack on the federal government's carbon pricing plans, as debate got underway in parliament.

Thirty-eight members of parliament (MPs) are scheduled to speak on the emissions trading package on Wednesday, and Abbott opened the debate by describing the tax is "all economic pain for no environmental gain," and that the carbon price would push up power, fuel and gas prices.

"This is a bad tax, based on a lie, and it should be rejected by this Parliament," Abbott told a packed House of Representatives, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in Canberra on Wednesday.

"We won't be able to turn on our air conditioner or our heater without being impacted by this tax. We won't be able to get on a bus or a train, ultimately to drive our cars, without being impacted by this tax."

Abbott was particularly scathing of Treasury modeling that showed thousands of jobs will be created as businesses invest in clean energy technology.

"Show me a credible economist, Prime Minister, who thinks that higher prices create more jobs," he said.

"This is not just nonsense, this is nonsense on stilts by a government that has no real understanding of the economy of the real world in which most of us live."

Abbott cited economic modeling commissioned by the Victorian Government which showed that by 2015, 23,000 jobs would be lost in the Latrobe Valley, Geelong and other areas.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus said it is necessary to set up a carbon tax to tackle climate change.

He said the Opposition has spent the previous year in hysterics over the carbon price mechanism, and "they have attacked the scientists, they have attacked the economists who are urging us to act."

"They pander to climate change deniers with an extraordinary level of willful ignorance and I say to all those opposite, including the Member for Flinders, that now is the time to cross the floor to vote for the Gillard Government's plan for a clean energy future," he said.

The parliamentary debate will continue on Thursday.

Gillard on Tuesday introduced carbon tax draft laws to the parliament. The draft laws will be referred to a parliamentary inquiry involving senators and members, which is due to report by Oct. 4.

Securing support from the Greens and independent, the carbon price draft laws are expected to pass the lower house vote on Oct. 12. The upper house will then sit an extra week starting on Nov. 7 to debate the draft laws, with federal Lower House Leader Anthony Albanese expected the carbon legislation will be passed by parliament by mid-November. The 24.5 U.S. dollars a tonne of carbon tax is expected to start from July 1, 2012. The tax is set to increase 2.5 percent each year for three years, and will switch to Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015.

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