CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The Australian Parliament passed a carbon tax that would make 500 of the country's top polluters pay for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit, officials said.
The lower house of Parliament passed the tax the government said was central to its strategy to combat climate change, but the opposition charged it would cause job losses and raise the cost of living, the BBC reported Wednesday.
"Today is a significant day for Australians and the Australians of the future who want to see a better environment," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said before the vote.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate with the support of the Green party next month.
There have been protests against the bill, with the opposition accusing Gillard of lying before last year's federal election when she said she would not introduce a carbon tax.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said he would ditch the tax if he wins office.
Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and one of the biggest per-capita greenhouse gas emitters, the BBC reported.