Australia’s Climate Change Minister Signals Possible Carbon Tax

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Labor’s Climate Change Minister Greg Combet caused a storm of controversy after opening the door to a possible carbon tax on industry during an interview on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night.
     
Mr Combet told interviewer Kerry O’Brien that the government would consider "alternative policy options" in regards to energy policy and they would also "be looking at the various options for the development of a carbon price."
     
The Minister’s admission comes just days after calls from several major company chiefs for Australia to institute a carbon tax on business, including BHP Billiton’s Marius Kloppers and mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest. 
      
Max Sylvester, co-founder of solar energy solutions company, Energy Matters, also recommends a properly applied price on carbon as a simple and effective way of lowering carbon emissions and encouraging the uptake of renewable energy in Australia.
     
"I think it’s hardly surprising that the government has come out with this now," Mr Sylvester said. "You have the heads of serious corporations like BHP calling for a carbon tax, although as it turns out it was somewhat a loaded call, and a minority government with Labor only in power due to Green preferences. It’s clear Australia is ready to make the switch to a low carbon economy. A carbon tax revenue stream could give renewable energy sources in this country – which are being under-supported by government – a significant boost."
     
The Federal Opposition immediately leapt on Mr Combet’s comments, saying they contradicted Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s "sacred" pre-election vow not to introduce a carbon tax. 
      
Opposition Climate Change spokesman, Greg Hunt, criticised the government for acting solely out of political expediency.
      
"Julia Gillard should say whether she now endorses such electricity price rises and whether she will apologise for misleading millions of Australians on election-eve," he said.