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Australians turning off carbon tax: poll

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) May 4, 2011
Australians are increasingly opposed to a carbon tax to combat climate change with support for the government's proposal plunging over the past two months, a poll released Wednesday showed.

Australians, among the world's worst per capita carbon polluters, have proposed various schemes to reduce harmful carbon emissions in recent years but none has ever been implemented.

Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a carbon tax to be levied on major industrial polluters by July 1, 2012, then move to a full emissions trading scheme in three to five years.

But the plan has seen her personal popularity and Labor's standing plunge and a Newspoll published in The Australian showed that 60 percent of voters were now opposed to the government's carbon tax proposal.

Only 30 percent of voters supported the plan and 10 percent were undecided, according to the survey of 1,201 Australians conducted over the weekend.

"Of the 60 percent opposed to the carbon tax, 39 percent are 'strongly against', but of the 30 percent for the plan only 12 percent are 'strongly in favour'," the newspaper noted.

A Newspoll in December found sentiment on the issue almost evenly split -- 47 percent to 49 percent -- but after Gillard's carbon tax pledge in March, support for paying more for energy plunged to 42 percent while opposition hit 53 percent.

As the conservative opposition campaigns that a carbon tax would hurt families by raising the cost of living, Gillard said she believed that Australians wanted to do something about climate change.

But she acknowledged when a government "is putting forward a big reform that that can make people anxious".

Gillard, who will consult with business leaders later Wednesday on the tax, said full details of the carbon price would be released in the middle of this year and provide "generous assistance" to households.

Australian politicians have struggled on how to deal with climate change, with the issue provoking furious debate within both major parties and leading to Gillard's ousting of former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd in a party coup.

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