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PM Gillard acknowledges many are worried

Addressing 600 delegates at the NSW Labor State Conference in Sydney on Saturday, Ms Gillard reassured families and pensioners they will be looked after under the tax due to be implemented next year.

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“Most people will find that when all is said and done, they are not a cent behind,” she said.

“And many will come out ahead.”

Details of the tax will be revealed by the federal government on Sunday, ahead of Ms Gillard’s televised address to the nation later that evening.

Ms Gillard said on Saturday the government’s plan to price carbon came from “deep within Labor’s progressive roots”.

“From July 1 next year the freedom to pollute our skies must cease,” she said during a 22-minute speech.

“Two decades of denial and delay will come to an end.

“Polluters will have to pay.”

Ms Gillard told delegates the science on climate change was clear.

“And friends you know we must lead because the science says we must and friends we’ve know that for an awfully long time,” she said.

Ms Gillard said federal Labor won’t be knocked off course by opposition to the tax.

She accused the coalition of a “cynical campaign of fear” against the tax.

The setting of a price on carbon – expected to be $23 a tonne – was a historic act, she said.

“We will cut pollution, we will protect the household budget, we will protect jobs.”

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese told AAP at the conference at the Sydney Town Hall the nation was entering a critical period.

“It is a critical period for the nation and we’re in government not to just sit there and occupy the treasury benches,” he said.

“We’re in government to make a difference to people’s lives.”

Mr Albanese said Ms Gillard’s speech was inspirational.

“This package tomorrow will be extremely important not just for this generation but for generations to come,” he said.

“The prime minister’s speech outlined her passion and her commitment was there for all to see.

“And I think we’ll be seeing that right around the country, door to door in coming weeks.”

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Ms Gillard’s speech was “brimming with the positive opportunities that lie ahead”.

“The warmth of feeling here in town hall is a very strong indication of what a great job the prime minister is doing,” he told AAP.

Asked about the mood in cabinet ahead of Sunday’s announcement, Mr Garrett said ministers were keen to prosecute the government’s position.

“Putting a price on carbon pollution means our economy will start to do the job for us we know it can do,” he said.

Mr Garrett said he’d be wearing out his shoe leather to sell the tax.

But Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said he will wait for the detail of Sunday’s announcement before deciding his stance on the tax.

“I’ll look at tomorrow’s details. We obviously have 130,000 members who will be affected by tomorrow’s announcement,” he told AAP.

“We will look at that all of next week.

“I’ll be visiting all the major steel works and smelting facilities around the country.

“And then on July 18 our national executive will meet and we’ll be making a decision then.”

Federal MP David Bradbury said the government faces an enormous challenge selling the tax.

“This is an enormous challenge, I don’t think any of us understate the magnitude of the challenge,” he told AAP.

Ms Gillard also on Saturday urged NSW Labor to learn from its March 26 state election defeat and undertake the reform necessary to rebuild the party.

“Gathering here today we understand reform begins by understanding what happened in March – a defeat as bad as we’ve ever known,” she said.

 

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