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Australian lower house passes carbon tax bills

October 11, 2011

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CANBERRA, Australia—Australia's House of Representatives has narrowly passed legislation that would introduce an unpopular carbon tax on major polluters aimed at reducing the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

The legislation scraped through the parliament's lower chamber on Wednesday with a 74-72 vote. Its passage through the Senate next month is guaranteed by an alliance between the ruling Labor Party and the environmentally focused Greens party, ensuring that the tax starts July 1.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has defended introducing the new tax in a volatile global economic environment, saying that any delay would increase the cost of reducing Australia's carbon gas emissions.

The opposition has vowed to repeal the tax, which it says will be the dominant issue at elections in 2013.