Australian parliament plans extra sitting for carbon bills

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 4:23 AM
Australian parliament plans extra sitting for carbon bills

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's parliament has scheduled an extra week of sittings for the upper house Senate in November to help the government pass its landmark laws to put a price on carbon emissions.

The government, Greens and independent lawmakers have the numbers to pass the carbon bills, which will be introduced into the lower House of Representatives on Tuesday, ensuring a carbon tax can start on July 1, 2012, ahead of a full emissions trade scheme from mid-2015.

Manager of government business Anthony Albanese said the package of 13 bills would be sent to a joint House and Senate inquiry, with a lower house vote then due in the week of October 11, giving lawmakers one month to debate the bills.

"We are absolutely exposing this legislation to full and proper scrutiny," Albanese told reporters.

The Senate could then pass the laws by mid-November, although the timing of a final vote was a matter for the upper house, Albanese said.

The carbon price is a central policy of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is struggling in the polls and who has staked her government's future on a plan to price carbon emissions from Australia's top 500 polluting companies.

The carbon price is the key measure to help Australia, which accounts for 1.5 percent of global emissions, reach its target to curb emissions by five percent by 2020, based on year 2000 levels.

Last week, Gillard and European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to work toward linking Australia's carbon market with the EU scheme.

(Reporting by James Grubel)