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Anti-carbon tax protesters interrupt question time

The federal government has agreed to expand the carbon tax legislation committee to 14 members.

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Four will be government MPs, three opposition MPs, one Green MP, one independent MP, two government senators, one Green senator and two opposition senators.

The announcement comes after a bitter debate over the government’s carbon price legislative package before the main debate even started.

The opposition opposed the government’s plan to refer the 18 bills to the special parliamentary committee, saying it had too many cross bench members.

Liberal Christopher Pyne now says it still leaves the coalition under-represented.

ALBO BLAMES COALITION FOR PROTESTS

The news came after senior government minister Anthony Albanese said the federal opposition encouraged anti-carbon tax protesters to disrupt parliament.

During Question Time around 40 people stood up in the public gallery and yelled “no carbon tax”, “shame Labor” and “shame Gillard” as the prime minister was speaking.

They were removed from the chamber – one male forcibly by a security guard.

After Prime Minister Julia Gillard finished her answer she received applause from a second public gallery on the other side of the lower house.

Mr Albanese later accused the coalition of being behind the rowdy protest.

“Some of those who’ve been escorted out of the gallery of course had lunch with a number of the (coalition) members prior to today,” he told parliament.

“They are now not just inciting their backbench they are inciting the gallery for their little people’s revolt.

“There is no decency from those opposite.”

In particular, Mr Albanese took a swipe at Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella whom he said had taken part in a “grubby” protest outside his Sydney electoral office two weeks ago.

Labor backbencher Ed Husic also tweeted from inside the chamber: “Some of those ejected guys had lunch in Private Members dining room with Lib MPs. See what having lunch with the Coalition does 2 u!”

The Gillard government on Tuesday introduced 18 bills to establish a carbon price regime under its Clean Energy Future policy.

Debate on the draft laws will begin on Wednesday and is expected to dominate lower house proceedings for the rest of the week and all of next week.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it would be a “travesty of democracy” for the government to rush its 18 Clean Energy Future bills through parliament because it had no mandate for a carbon tax.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said every federal MP will be given the opportunity to debate the legislation.

Mr Albanese said Labor had offered to sit extra hours but the coalition wasn’t interested.

“Those opposite say that we don’t have enough time to debate the bills but they’re opposed to sitting extra hours,” he said.

Mr Albanese argued there would be a month of debate on the package before an October 12 vote in the lower house.

That compared to just eight days for the former Howard Coalition government’s Work Choices legislation, he said.

Ms Gillard on Tuesday also promised to release updated Treasury modelling on the impact of the $23-a-tonne carbon tax next week “well before the parliament votes on this legislation”.

“But let’s be frank,” she said.

“The updated modelling won’t change anybody’s mind in the opposition because they are not interested in the facts.”