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Australia PM plays down setback in carbon tax repeal plan

Published on Jul 11, 2014 12:22 PM

SYDNE (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday brushed off a defeat in the Senate on repealing the country's carbon tax, calling it normal "argy bargy" that would not derail a key election promise.

Abbott went to the polls in September vowing that the divisive pollution levy would go, arguing the cost was being passed to consumers, resulting in higher utility bills.

But his plans took a hit on Thursday when the Palmer United Party (PUP), which previously said it would support the repeal, made a last-minute about-turn and the bill was narrowly defeated.

The government must walk a tightrope in the upper house, needing the backing of minor party senators such as those from PUP to get its legislative agenda passed if it cannot secure support from Labor or the Greens. This includes not only scrapping the carbon tax but the massive spending cuts it has planned to bring the budget under control.

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