Australian carbon tax faces constitution challenge

Clive Palmer says the carbon tax in its current form is unconstitutional. [AFP]
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Clive Palmer says the carbon tax in its current form is unconstitutional. [AFP]

Last Updated: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 13:16:00 +1100

Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer has indicated there will be a High Court challenge against the government's carbon tax because he has advice the legislation is unconstitutional.

The legislation has passed both houses of Parliament and is due to come into effect in the middle of the year.

The opposition Coalition has promised to repeal the legislation if it wins the next election.

Mr Palmer, who is a financial backer of the Coalition, first threatened to challenge the legislation last year and now says he is going to act on it.

"Our advice is that the carbon tax in its current form is unconstitutional, and that's recognised in the legislation itself when it says if it's found to be unconstitutional," he told the ABC's 7.30.

"Now, I think the constitution of Australia's much more important than having a number of lawyers or Parliament trying to slip around it.

"The constitution sets out how it should be changed, how the states should vote - the majority of Australians have a democratic right to vote."

When asked on precisely what grounds the tax is unconstitutional, Mr Palmer said: "I can only go on the advice that I'm given, and so we'll be looking forward to the challenge."

'Freedom of speech'

Mr Palmer says the legal action will be brought on by the companies he owns.

"The companies I own - who are large corporations - have got the rights to go to the High Court, that's what it's set up to do," he said.

"That's the country we live in - freedom of speech.

"We've all got the right to say what we think. You may not agree with it, but that's a right we fought for in many world wars."

But the Federal Government says its carbon tax legislation would withstand a legal challenge.

A spokesman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says the Government is confident in the legal basis for the legislation.

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