2011/05: Should Australia introduce a carbon tax?

Introduction to the media issue

Video clip at right:
A Ten news clip from February 2011 showing the political fallout from PM Gillard's announcement of a carbon tax. (This news item also contains comment). If you cannot see this clip, it will be because video is blocked by your network. To view the clip, access from home or from a public library, or from another network which allows viewing of video clips.

What they said...
'If we don't change as the world moves, we could get stuck with an old fashioned high carbon pollution economy and not have the jobs of the future'
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard

'This tax will not only hit your home, it will hit every single item you purchase, every business that you deal with, every price that you pay - this will be the tax that keeps on taxing'
John Alexander, the Liberal member for Bennelong

The issue at a glance
On February 24, 2011, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (together with her government's Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet,) announced that as of July 1, 2012, Australia would have a 'carbon price'. This means that those companies producing goods that emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will be taxed. The tax is intended to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and Australia's contribution to global warming.
The Prime Minister gave no detail as to the precise size of the tax. Nor did she give any detail as to how consumers (to whom the cost of the tax would be passed on in increased prices) would be compensated. It has also not yet been explained how businesses will be assisted to make the transition.
The proposed tax has the backing of key Green and independent MPs in the lower house of Parliament but could still face obstacles in the upper house where three earlier carbon pricing schemes have been defeated.
The leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has declared the tax an 'utter betrayal' of the Australian electorate, claiming it runs counter to promises Ms Gillard made prior to the last election.
The Gillard Government intends that within three to five years of the introduction of the carbon tax, Australia should shift to an emissions trading scheme (ETS).  
The immediate political debate is focused on the proposed carbon tax which the Opposition opposes and which it hopes will win it the next federal election.