Labor's carbon tax passes

The Gillard Government's controversial carbon tax has passed Parliament with Labor and the Australian Greens forcing the 18 clean energy bills through the Senate.

The Australian Government won the historic vote in the Upper House 36 to 32. The legislation was passed unamended, which means it is now set to become law.

The move coincided with better news about the Government's standing with voters. The latest Newspoll, published in the Australian, found primary support for Labor has risen three percentage points to 32 per cent.

Just before yesterday's vote, Finance Minister Penny Wong said it had been a long road to achieve the bills' passage as the Senate previously has rejected an emissions trading scheme. "But today we deliver," Senator Wong said. "This is a reform for our children. Today marks the beginning of Australia's clean energy future."

But Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz said the Labor Party had sold its policy soul to the Greens for the sake of staying in power. "[This] is the grossest betrayal of an electoral mandate in Australian political history."

The tax was economically reckless, would increase the cost of living, hurt jobs and perversely not help the environment. Abetz said the next election would be the referendum on the carbon tax the people were previously denied.

A coalition government would axe the tax, he said.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown insisted it was a historic day for Australia. "What we are doing here today is legislating ... to hold back the great nemesis of climate change for the whole future of humanity and indeed our millions of fellow species on this planet," he said to cheers from the public gallery.

Labor's pollution price regime will begin in mid-2012 with a A$23-a-tonne carbon price. It will then transform to an emissions trading scheme with a floating price in mid-2015.

The Newspoll found that since the middle of September Labor has risen six percentage points from a record low, and was polling its best since late May. The latest increase comes at the expense of the Australian Greens, with support for the minor party falling three points to 12 per cent.

After preferences, the coalition still maintains an election-winning lead - 53-47 per cent.

But worrying for the coalition is the standing of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Nearly six out of 10 voters are dissatisfied with his performance, and only one in three are satisfied. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has slightly worse satisfaction ratings and she trails Abbott by one point as preferred leader.

- AAP

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