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Prime Minister Julia Gillard says global economic instability should not be an excuse to put off introducing a carbon tax.


As an opinion poll showed Labor’s popularity falling to a record low, Ms Gillard was addressing environmental groups in Sydney on Monday to sell the contentious climate change policy.

“In the midst of uncertain global economic conditions we should not lose sight of this country’s strong economic backbone, a backbone that has been constructed by reforming governments over decades,” she said in her speech.

“And we shouldn’t lose sight of the need to ensure that backbone stays strong in the years to come.

“The costs of inaction are greater than the cost of action both immediately and in the longer term.”

Speaking to ABC Adelaide this morning, she dismissed suggestions her unpopularity with voters is damaging the government’s case.

“Democracy is not one long opinion poll,” she said. “It’s actually about showing the leadership that is necessary for the country’s future and that’s what I’m doing.”

Ms Gillard said she was determined to deliver the carbon pricing scheme despite the poll showing 56 per cent of voters opposed to its introduction in July 2012.

“I’ve well and truly got the courage of my convictions and I will be out there providing the leadership necessary as we tackle this big reform,” she said.

Appearing at the Green Capital Business Breakfast at the Sheraton on the Park hotel, Ms Gillard acknowledged that consumers were still more cautious than they were before the global financial crisis.

But she said the heightened economic risks in the US and Europe were very different to the fundamentals in Australia and the surrounding region.

“We are located in the right part of the world at the right time,” she said.

“The prospects for our region remain much stronger as the weight of global activity continues to shift in our favour.”

Ms Gillard predicted that in years to come, “carbon productivity” would be as important in luring investment from multinationals as labour costs and tax rates.


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