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June 26, 2017

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Australia abolishes its controversial carbon tax

SYDNEY--Australia on Thursday axed a divisive carbon tax after years of vexed political debate, in a move criticized as regressive and out of step with the rest of the world.

The upper house Senate voted 39-32 to scrap the charge, which was imposed by the former Labor government on major polluters from 2012 in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It followed days of protracted negotiations with the minor Palmer United Party, which embarrassed the government last week by pulling its crucial support for repeal of the tax at the last minute.

Power-broker Clive Palmer backed the legislation after winning concessions for tougher measures to ensure cuts to electricity and gas prices were passed through to consumers and businesses.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott went to the polls in September with repealing the pollution levy as a central campaign platform, arguing the cost was being passed to consumers, resulting in higher utility bills.

"Scrapping the carbon tax is a foundation of the government's economic action strategy," said Abbott, who once said evidence blaming mankind for climate change was "absolute crap."

"A useless, destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families' cost of living and which didn't actually help the environment is finally gone," he added.

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