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Australia’s Climate Policy Paves Way for Controls, Wong Says

July 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Australian Labor party’s climate protection policies will pave the way for creating limits on carbon emissions, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.

“We have to put a limit on Australia’s pollution, we need to do that through a market mechanism,” Wong said on Channel 10’s Meet the Press program today. “We need to look at how we take this forward.”

Climate change will be among the top agenda items today when Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott hold their only debate scheduled before the Aug. 21 general election. The meeting will be broadcast live on national television tonight at 6:30 p.m. Sydney time.

Gillard has announced climate policies including a A$394 million ($353 million) plan to replace old cars with energy-efficient models, mandatory emissions standards for vehicles from 2015 and a plan today to make buildings more environmentally friendly. She drew criticism from environmentalists after she announced July 23 she’ll delay charging companies for pollution until 2012.

Businesses that invest in improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings will be able to apply for a one-off bonus tax deduction of half the cost of the improvement, the Labor Party said in an e-mailed statement today. The A$180 million ($161 million) program will be paid for through the Renewable Energy Future Fund, the statement said.

Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as prime minister on June 24 after a slump in voter support to election-losing levels sparked by his move in April to shelve carbon trading, the mainstay of his 2007 election campaign.

Abbott debated with Rudd in March on his health overhaul plan that shifted control of the nation’s public hospitals, aged care and funding for doctors to the federal government from individual states. Polls among viewers of the debate showed Rudd emerged the winner.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nichola Saminather in Sydney at nsaminather1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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