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Many Australians against carbon emissions tax: poll

SYDNEY -- Most Australians oppose a tax on the carbon emissions blamed for global warming and want Prime Minister Julia Gillard to call an early election over the issue, according to a poll released on Monday.

The findings were published a day after thousands of people rallied around the nation in support of the controversial plan, which is the subject of intense debate in Australia.

The Galaxy poll for News Limited newspapers, conducted countrywide on June 1 and 2, revealed 58 percent were against the tax, with just 28 percent in favor and the rest undecided.

Gillard pledged ahead of her election last year that she would not introduce a carbon tax, and the poll showed 64 percent of the 500 voters questioned want her to call a fresh ballot.

Only 24 percent said she had a mandate to implement her proposal.

Heavily reliant on coal-fired power and mining exports, Australia is one of the world's worst per capita polluters and the government wants the tax levied on major industrial polluters by July 1, 2012.

This would give way to an emissions trading scheme within three to five years.

But the conservative opposition says it would damage the economy and drive up the cost of living by making energy far more expensive, bumping up electricity bills.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled believe it would leave them financially worse off and deliver little or no benefit for the environment.

“The problem for the government is that most voters believe the personal cost outweighs the environmental benefits,” said Galaxy pollster David Briggs.

The findings came in the wake of rallies around the country on Sunday in favor of the tax that attracted tens of thousands of supporters.

“We think momentum is building, people-power is building, because Australians want action on climate change,” Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Don Henry said at a rally in Melbourne.

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