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NCREASING SOLAR ACTIVITY CLEANS UP SAT-DEBRIS: Earth's atmosphere has been puffing up in response to increasing levels of UV radiation from sunspots. This is good news for satellite operators, because a puffed up atmosphere helps clean up low-Earth orbit. "The number of cataloged debris in Earth orbit actually decreased during 2011," reports Nick Johnson in NASA's Orbital Debris Quarterly newsletter. "[The figure below] illustrates how the rate of debris reentries from the Fengyun-1C anti-satellite test of January 2007 increased during the past year."
Both the incumbent Howard Coalition government and the Rudd Labor opposition promised to implement an emissions trading scheme (ETS) before the 2007 federal election. Labor won the election, with the new government proceeding to implement an ETS. The government introduced the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which the Liberals supported with Malcolm Turnbull as leader. Tony Abbott questioned an ETS, saying "If you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax? Why not ask electricity consumers to pay more, then at the end of the year you can take your invoices to the tax office and get a rebate? It would be burdensome, all taxes are burdensome, but it would certainly change the price of carbon, raise the price of carbon, without increasing in any way the overall tax burden." Shortly before the ETS vote, Abbott defeated Turnbull in a leadership challenge, and from there on the Liberals opposed the ETS. This left the government unable to secure passage of the bill and it was subsequently withdrawn.
Julia Gillard defeated Rudd in a leadership challenge on the 24th of June 2010 and soon after called a Federal Election, 2010 election. During this election she said "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead". In the first hung parliament result in 70 years, the government required the support of crossbenchers including the Greens. One requirement for Green support was a carbon tax, which Gillard proceeded with in forming a minority government. A fixed-price carbon tax would proceed to a floating-price ETS within a few years under the plans. The government proposed the Clean Energy Bill in February 2011, which the opposition claimed to be a broken election promise. The Liberal Party vowed to overturn the bill if it is elected.
The bill was passed by the Lower House in October 2011 and the Upper House in November 2011.