Andrew Probyn And Andrew Tillett, The West Australian
The Government will legislate to put a price on carbon by September after Cabinet last night approved the carbon tax package for release.
Ms Gillard said that outstanding details were expected to be finalised in further talks with the multi-party climate change committee this week before another Cabinet meeting.
"This weekend, the Gillard Government plans to announce a price on pollution as the central element of a comprehensive policy to tackle climate change, cut pollution and drive the transformation of the Australian economy to a clean energy future," she said.
The scheme will start with a fixed price on carbon emissions on July 1, 2012. An emissions trading scheme with a flexible price and an emissions target will start three years later.
Ms Gillard promised last week that nine out of 10 households would receive tax cuts or rises in benefits to offset the impact of the carbon tax and the three million lowest-paid households would be overcompensated for increases in prices.
She has also promised that households, tradespeople and small businesses would be spared a carbon tax on their fuel, but the Government was challenged yesterday to reveal how the carbon tax would affect heavy transport, buses and ship operators.
Ms Gillard refused to confirm suggestions that the Government would recoup the estimated $2 billion-a-year revenue shortfall from exempting fuel by cutting the various fuel tax offsets for farmers and industry.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed credit for Labor's pledge to shield fuel from the carbon tax.
But Mr Abbott, who has repeatedly argued that a carbon tax would increase prices at the bowser by 6.5¢ a litre, said Ms Gillard's decision to exclude petrol, LPG and diesel from the carbon tax would be undone by the Greens.
"Do you really think that petrol would be excluded had I not been campaigning hard to protect the motorists of Australia from this hit on their cost of living," he told ABC TV's 7.30 program last night.
National secretary of the Transport Workers Union Tony Sheldon threatened "go slows" from truckies if they were subjected to the carbon tax.
"The Government has more respect for cows than they do for truck drivers," he said.
Shadow environment minister Greg Hunt said the Government's decision to announce its carbon price policy at the start of Parliament's five-week winter break was cynical.
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