Australian Senate OKs carbon tax on big polluters

November 7, 2011 - 9:35 PM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian Senate has passed bills that will make the nation's 500 largest polluters pay a tax on the carbon they release into the atmosphere.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard had promised not to push for a carbon tax during elections last year, but has since said it is the best option for Australia's future. Members of the public applauded Tuesday when the bills were passed with support from her Labor Party minority government and the minor Greens party.

Critics including the center-right Liberal Party say the tax will drive up the cost of producing energy and make everything else more expensive.

Beginning July 1, Australia's largest polluters will pay 23 Australian dollars ($24) for every metric ton of carbon gases they produce.