Direct Action looks set to pass the Senate after concessions negotiated by Palmer United Party and independent senator Nick Xenophon that will see contracts for carbon reduction programs extended to seven years, retention of the Climate Change Authority, a commitment for the authority to re-examine Clive Palmer’s proposal for an emissions trading scheme.
However, Mr Xenophon’s proposal to allow the government purchase international carbon permits was rejected.
According to Guardian Australia,” former Australian Conservation Foundation head Don Henry and co-chair of Greg Hunt’s own expert committee on Direct Action, Danny Price, have been involved in months of backroom talks to win the backing of PUP, Xenophon and DLP senator John Madigan during the three months since the government succeeded in repealing the former government’s carbon pricing scheme.”
According to a letter obtained by The Australian Financial Review, Mr Hunt told Mr Palmer that the amount of funding the Climate Authority will be given to continue its work will be agreed by the Environment Department secretary and Authority chairman Bernie Fraser.
“Mr Hunt also promised Mr Palmer that the government does not intend to reintroduce bills to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency before the end of 2014,” the AFR said.
Labor and green groups were not happy. Labor said it was a “waste of taxpayers’ money”, despite the amendments.
Direct Action will still pay billions in taxpayer dollars to big business to reduce their pollution, rather than making the polluters pay,” a Labor media statement said. It added:
Tony Abbott’s promise to include safeguards that prevent any reductions in carbon pollution being offset by increases in carbon pollution elsewhere in the economy has been exposed as a mirage.
What we end up with is a situation where Tony Abbott will hand billions of taxpayer dollars to some polluters while others will be free to increase their pollution levels with impunity.
Over the past four years, expert after expert have agreed that Direct Action has no chance of achieving meaningful reduction in Australia’s carbon pollution levels.
Australia will be left looking utterly foolish at international forums, like next month’s G20, as countries like the US and China present serious plans to tackle climate change.
In relation to the Palmer amendments, Labor respects the work of the Climate Change Authority, but we don’t need another report to describe what’s happening in the rest of the world.
Labor leader Bill Shorten told ABC news media that “Prime Minister Palmer” was “calling the shots”.
“Tony Abbott has once again sold his soul to Clive Palmer and Australia will pay the price,” he said.
“This is a dirty deal that will send our country backwards.”
Greens leader Christine Milne has slammed the direct action policy as “embarrassing”.
“What we have here is no contribution to bringing down emissions, no modelling to backing up the claims, a government and Clive Palmer which tore down an emissions trading scheme which was bringing down emissions,” she said.
The Australian Conservation Foundation
The Australian Conservation Foundation said the promise of another study into emissions trading did not make the Federal Government’s Direct Action an effective climate plan.
“Australia had a working price on pollution, which was set to convert to an emissions trading scheme, but it was wiped out by the same people who now propose yet another review into emissions trading schemes,” ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy.
“Since 1992 Australia has had more than 35 inquiries into climate issues and proposed schemes.
“The Government’s so-called Direct Action plan sets no cap on pollution and places no obligation on polluters, it hands taxpayers’ money straight to polluting companies and ignores the advice of economists and scientists on the best way to reduce pollution.
“The only direct aspect of Direct Action is the subsidies the Abbott Government will be handing straight to big polluters.
“It’s certainly not a direct way to cut pollution.
“The Government has set up a review into emissions trading schemes, even though it has vowed not to establish an ETS; this is a mess and an insult to the intelligence of Australians.
“Despite the stay of execution for the Climate Change Authority, there are still fundamental flaws in the Government’s plan, leaving Direct Action weak, incomplete and ineffective.
“The rest of the world is moving to cut pollution; Australia must not be left behind.”
Guardian Australia said:
But deep concerns about the adequacy of the policy remain. The government has not modelled whether the fund has enough money to meet Australia’s minimum 2020 target to reduce emissions by 5 per cent, with Abbott saying during the election campaign he preferred to just “have a crack”.
But Modelling by Reputex climate analytics, commissioned by the environment group WWF-Australia, found it was likely to fall short by $5.9 b a year between 2015 and 2020, or between $20b and $35b in total. Separate Modeling by Sinclair Knight Merz/MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies, commissioned by the Climate Institute, which used assumptions more generous to the Coalition, found it would need at least another $4b. Abbott has said if Direct Action falls short he will not allocate any more money.