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Thursday, 24 April 2014




Date:  24 April 2014

The Abbott Government has
cynically released its so called Emissions Reduction White Paper on the
eve of a long weekend in a desperate attempt to hide the lack of detail
and commitment to tackling climate change, Shadow Environment Minister
Mark Butler said.

More than four years in the making,
the White Paper has revealed what economists and scientists have long
suspected – that the centrepiece of the Abbott Government’s Direct
Action plan is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and yet more
unanswered questions around how the scheme will operate.

“Cynically announced the afternoon
before the Anzac Day long weekend, there is no detail, no leadership, no
concrete commitment, no incentives for polluters to change their
behaviour, and no certainty for our future,” Mr Butler said.

With a price tag of $2.55 billion at a
time when the Government is telling pensioners they are costing too
much, they will pay polluters to keep polluting without any clear plan
on how it will reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

“This a policy con that isn’t about
long-term behavioural change. This is a one-off deal offering taxpayer
dollars with no incentive for long term change.

“This week, we’ve seen a so-called
budget emergency requiring cuts to pensions and health, yet Tony Abbott
can find an extra $2.6 billion to pump into a dud policy that no one
says will work – talk about twisted priorities.”

The ERF offers no funding certainty beyond four years – grossly inadequate if it is to attract any major abatement projects.

“Greg Hunt says that ‘additional
funding will be considered in future budgets’ – these are hardly words
of certainty, or of a government of ‘no surprises’.  This is policy
fraud – an expensive con that will do nothing to tackle climate change.”

“Despite constantly bleating that
Labor’s policy hasn’t worked, Greg Hunt today said that a recent report
showed that Labor’s policy is set to exceed emissions reductions beyond
our Kyoto target.

“Greg Hunt’s response is to do less and take Australia backwards, with no plan for reducing emissions beyond 2020.

“Under Labor Australia was a world
leader on tackling climate change. Under Direct Action we will fall
behind and fail to act in the interest of future generations.”

Significant details that were absent
in the White Paper – unacceptable for a policy that Mr Abbott took to
the 2010 election and which has already been the subject of a Green

  • Penalties that would apply to
    over-polluters: Mr Hunt said he’ll wait and see if industry
    over-pollutes and then there “may be cause for discussion or activity”.
    This is a cop out that confirms what the Coalition’s policy is all about
    – paying big polluters to keep polluting.
  • Still no detail on the Abbott
    Government’s so-called “safeguard mechanism”: Mr Hunt confirmed today
    that he will think about that between now and 2015.
  • Contracts allocated under the
    ERF will typically be for a five year period, according to the White
    Paper: It doesn’t explain how he would do that on a 4-year funding base.
  • Crediting periods under the ERF are stated between 3-15 years: Yet the only financial commitment is for four years.
  • Mr Hunt couldn’t explain how Australia could meet its target without applying a cap on pollution.
  • Mr Hunt couldn’t explain why
    business would participate when there are insufficient incentives and no
    indication of what the benchmark auction price will be. 

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