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Australia Must Price Carbon as Soon as Possible, Bandt Says

Australia’s Greens Party want a carbon price imposed quickly and won’t automatically back policy proposed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose minority government relies on their support, lawmaker Adam Bandt said.

“We want to see a carbon price introduced as soon as possible,” Bandt said at a conference in Melbourne today. The Greens want a carbon levy, starting at A$20 ($20) a ton and rising each year, and public investment and loan guarantees for the development of clean renewable energy.

Gillard needs to retain the support of Bandt and three independent lawmakers after wooing them to form a government after the country’s deadlocked August election. Australia in April shelved climate change laws until after 2012 amid opposition in parliament’s upper house Senate and a lack of action by other countries. Gillard pledged to work toward charging for emissions after clinching the backing of the Greens whose support rose to a record 12 percent of the vote on Aug. 21.

Gillard has established a multiparty committee to study options for introducing a price on carbon in a country where coal accounts for more than 80 percent of power production. The group met for the first time last week and talks will continue through next year.

“Our participation on the committee does not mean we will automatically support any outcome,” Bandt said. “We need an approach that is both effective at cutting pollution and that will ensure that investment in clean energy can move forward, but also an approach that is capable of being supported by the parliament.”

The committee is “developing a plan for carbon pricing, and potentially a range of complementary measures that can be implemented as quickly as possible,” Bandt said.

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