The Carbon Wars

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For nearly a decade Australian political leaders have been at war over the best way to tackle climate change. Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull was the first casualty. He lost his job because he supported a price on carbon. The former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was next to go, after his polls collapsed when he dropped his plan to put a price on carbon. Now Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces an electoral revolt led by activists who say she doesn't have a mandate to introduce a carbon tax. And Opposition leader Tony Abbott is supporting this "people's revolt", hoping to force an early election.

There's little doubt that climate change and carbon reduction has become a deeply divisive issue in Australian politics - scientists and politicians have received death threats, the Prime Minister has been abused, talkback radio hosts have led protests to Canberra.

Reporter Marian Wilkinson investigates the campaign against the carbon tax, talking to Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and other key players. She also talks to the scientists who have been threatened and asks why the issue has created so much division. She examines the facts behind the claims being made about the impact of the new carbon price and the emissions trading scheme that will follow.

The program also examines one of the industries that opponents of a carbon pricing scheme say will be most affected - coal mining. On a recent visit to Queensland, Tony Abbott claimed the carbon tax would destroy jobs in the coal industry. Four Corners goes to the Bowen Basin in Queensland to find out what's really going on. Will investment stop? Will jobs be lost? Will these regions be devastated?

With the Government's Clean Energy Bill now being debated in Parliament, the Opposition has vowed do everything it can to thwart its introduction - which means there will be more protests and more political casualties. And inside Labor, there is anxiety about Julia Gillard's ability to sell the policy and whether her leadership can survive it.

This article is extracted from ABC Australia's web site and can be found at:

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