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Australian leadership coup revives carbon pricing plans

| Sourced From Businessgreen |

Australia’s shelved emissions trading scheme was given a new lease of life this morning after the country’s new prime minister Julia Gillard vowed to ” re-prosecute the case for a carbon price”.

Gillard was sworn in as the new leader of Australia this morning after confronting Kevin Rudd yesterday in a surprise leadership challenge. Rudd’s support in caucus quickly collapsed as news of the challenge emerged and within 24 hours he decided to concede the premiership.

Rudd’s government had been sliding in the polls over the last two months, partly as a result of his U-turn over plans for an carbon emission trading scheme. Rudd had been elected on a platform of urgent action against climate change, but he dropped his flagship climate bill earlier this year after the Liberal opposition repeatedly blocked the proposals in the Senate.

In her first press conference as prime minister, Gillard put tackling climate change back at the top of the government’s list of priorities.

“I believe human beings contribute to climate change and it is as disappointing to me as it is to millions of Australians that we do not have a price on carbon,” she said. “In the future we will need one.”

Gillard said she would ask the Governor General to call an election “over the next few months”. If elected she said her government would look to reintroduce climate change legislation, raising the possibility that the bill could still be passed before the end of the year.

However, Gillard will still face an uphill struggle if she is to secure sufficient support for a carbon pricing scheme.

The support in the caucus for Gillard’s leadership bid came largely from the right of the party, who were unhappy with a perceived leftwards drift in the Rudd administration and are ambivalent about the need for carbon pricing.

The opposition Liberal party are also staunchly opposed to climate change legislation with leader Tony Abbott having led a series of successful attacks on the government’s plans.

However, Gillard may still be able to secure more support in the house for carbon legislation than Rudd did.

The resignation of finance minister Lindsay Tanner this morning puts the Green party a step closer to securing a toehold in the House of Representatives at any forthcoming election as the party has a bedrock of support in Tanner’s inner-city Melbourne seat.

Support for the Greens is reaching new heights with 15 per cent of voters saying they would support the party last weekend, almost double the 7.8 per cent they received at the 2007 election, and the party could yet be convinced to support carbon pricing plans.

In his final address as prime minister this morning Rudd lamented the fact that he had not passed climate legislation despite his best efforts.

“I’m proud of the fact that we tried to get an ETS (emissions trading scheme) three times through this parliament, but we failed,” he said. “If I had one goal of future policy it would be to pass a carbon pollution reduction scheme in the next session of parliament so that we can make a difference on climate change.”

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