Australia's upper house passes carbon tax bills

The 18 so-called clean energy bills making up the Australian Labor Government’s controversial carbon tax scheme have been passed in the Australian Parliament’s upper house with a vote of 36 to 32.

The Australian Greens voted with the government to push the legislation unamended through and mark the end of 5 years of mostly acrimonious debate.

The new laws will require Australia’s top 500 polluting companies to pay a price on carbon emissions from the beginning of July 2012. They form the central plank of the government’s commitment to cut carbon emissions by 5% of the 2000 levels by 2020.

The new regime will begin with a $23 (Aus.)/tonne price on carbon and will transform into an emissions trading scheme with a floating price in mid-2015.

Greens leader expressed his satisfaction with the result by calling the vote a “green-letter day”.

Opposition MPs were less enthusiastic, saying the Labor Party had sold its policy soul to the Greens for the sake of staying in power. They added that a Liberal/National Party coalition government would axe the tax when it was elected.

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