27 November 2013 –
CEFC fightback: You can make money or lose it – you choose Mr Abbott

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has hit the national headlines in fightback mode after chairman Jillian Broadbent told the Abbott government the CEFC model was more “fiscally responsible” than Direct Action’s government handouts.

Ms Broadbent, responding to a Senate inquiry into the abolition of the carbon tax on Tuesday, didn’t mince words.

14 November 2013 – So who believes in Direct Action then?

Well there’s a lot of people trying hard and working double time to make their submissions to the public consultation process before it closes on 18 November.

Among these is the property industry and the entire might of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, which is engaged in crafting a workable response that includes the residential sector.

14 November 2013 – From The Conversation: Australia makes a bad start at Warsaw climate change meeting

By Ian McGregor, University of Technology, Sydney

Read more

11 November 2013 — [UPDATED 12 November 2013] Axing of National Housing Supply Council a “disaster”

The Federal Government’s decision to abolish the National Housing Supply Council has been widely condemned.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia and The Greens have all come out in opposition of the move, saying it removes a vital source of independent information.

2 November 2013 – Double dissolution on the way?

After a week of speculation, the Labor Party says it will only help the government repeal the carbon tax if an emissions trading scheme is introduced instead. Environment . Environment minister Greg Hunt says the government will do everything in its power to repeal the tax.

24 October 2013 – Environment Minister Greg Hunt checks his environment facts with Wikipedia.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has had a testy exchange with a BBC presenter in an interview over bushfires and climate change, the ABC reported.

“I looked up what Wikipedia said for example just to see what the rest of the world thought,” he said.

“And it opens up with the fact that bushfires in Australia are frequently occurring events during the hotter months of the year, large areas of land are ravaged every year by bushfires, and that’s the Australian experience.”

18 October 2013 –Australian Industry Group says Direct Action won’t work

The powerful Australian Industry Group has told the Federal Government its climate policy won’t work and a carbon trading system to reduce emissions is the best bet.

The government would be better off buying carbon credits in developing countries, AiGroup chief executive Innes Willox said on Friday, after meeting with Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Wednesday.

“Least-cost abatement is a fundamental policy principle for industry and internationally linked emissions trading has been the obvious way to achieve this,” Willox wrote in an opinion piece published in The Australian Financial Review on Friday.

Buying cheaper carbon credits overseas could be the answer, and these should be part of the Direct Action mix, Willox said.

“We might be an island nation but we are not an island economy and emissions don’t recognise borders.

“Offshore emissions reductions are an immense opportunity that the Government should grab with both hands.”

Australia was committed to reduction emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, and the target was likely to rise beyond 2015.

As flagged in The Fifth Estate on 30 September, The Climate Institute says that there are triggers in legislation that will force the government to raise its targets on emissions cuts if it doesn’t heed the recommendations from the Climate Authority expected in draft form in November.

Mr Willox flagged the possibility that Australia could not meet its commitments through the government’s Direct Action policy, leaving open the possibility of failing to meet targets, forcing much bigger government spending or by “pursuing the sort of expensive, interventionist carbon regulation that US businesses are up in arms about.”

(The Climate Institute indeed believes the government could use direct tough regulation to achieve targets. See above link to article)

Cheap UN Certified Emission Reduction Credits, currently 75 cents a tonne, could be the answer, Willox says.

17 October 2013 —Polluter gains could total $4 billion

 Experts have warned that Australia’s largest polluters could get windfall gains of up to $4 billion dollars due to a carbon tax repeal, because government must compensate them for free permits issued beyond the tax’s scheduled abolition date, which is unlikely to be met given the current Senate.

If the carbon tax is still in effect after July 1, large trade-exposed emitters, which under the legislation are entitled to free permits, could start to claim these. Estimates are that the permits will be worth $3 billion by October 31.

On September 1, energy companies will too be entitled to $1 billion in assistance.

Contrary to Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s claims that clauses making the abolition of the carbon tax retrospective to July 1 would eliminate the case for compensation, legal Professor George Williams has said the permits are a property right and there would still be grounds for compensation.

17 October 2013 — Australian Industry Group: we support an emissions trading scheme

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says his group supports the abolition of the carbon tax, but wants it replaced with a market-based mechanism, such as an emissions trading scheme.

Speaking to ABC’s World Today program (programme for those in the Coalition), Mr Willox said he was “very pleased” the Coalition was acting on its promise to introduce legislation to eliminate the carbon tax.

“But then there’s the process of replacing the carbon tax with another system which is at least cost, which is market-based and which will reduce the cost for businesses more generally,” he said.

He also told the Australian Financial Review: ‘“We’ve always said we want a market-based mechanism with least cost. That’s our final position. We’re not averse to what Labor did, or a version of it.’’

17 October 2013 — Experts say effect of removing carbon tax not quantifiable

Contrary to claims by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday [14 October] that removing the carbon tax would leave households $550 a year better off, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has said in a statement that the impact of removing the carbon price would not be quantifiable.

”The ABS is not able to quantify the impact of the introduction of carbon pricing, compensation or other government incentives and cannot produce estimates of price change exclusive of the carbon price,” the statement said.

”Similarly, the ABS will not be able to quantify the impact of removing the carbon price.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Pitt&Sherry principal consultant Hugh Saddler had also said the carbon price footprint had been “almost impossible” to see, and that it would be no easier to see if removed.

16 October 2013 — Hunt refuses to say if companies will be liable past July

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has refused to say if businesses will continue to pay the carbon tax after next June if the Government’s repeal bills have not passed.

According to the ABC website, “Mr Hunt, who will today start consulting business and environment groups about the legislation, has told AM the repeal bills need to pass for the tax to be scrapped.

He would not spell out whether businesses would continue to be liable if that did not happen until after June.”

Highlights from the article include:

  • Mark Butler agrees the carbon tax must go, but says Labor will not support the legislation to repeal it unless an emissions trading scheme is put in place.
  • The Greens indicate they will not support the repeal legislation, which means the government may have to wait for the new Senate [mid next year].
  • Fact Check: Coalition wrong on $550 figure – The Coalition says households will be $550 a year better off if it scraps the carbon tax. ABC Fact Check finds that figure to be outdated.
  • Climate Institute chief executive John Connor says the Government should release more details of its emissions. “Our view is the Coalition also had a commitment to reduce up to 25 per cent of Australia’s 2000 emissions by 2020, and our view is they should reveal the details of how their policy can do that before they repeal this piece of legislation which can do that,” Mr Connor said.

Double dissolution trigger

The legislation to repeal the carbon tax has been deliberately designed to give the Abbott government a trigger for a double dissolution election within 12 months if it is rejected by the current Senate and then the incoming Senate, The Australian Financial Review said on Wednesday.

The draft legislation also provides the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with “sweeping new powers to ensure electricity and gas suppliers pass on to consumers respective deductions of nine per cent and seven per cent if the carbon tax is repealed”.

Negotiating with Palmer

Clive Palmer said in a nationally broadcast news conference last week that his Palmer United Party would support the repeal of the tax only if the government handed back all taxes collected from it, understood to be about $10 billion. He is also refusing to pay his own carbon tax of about $6.5 million, it is understood.

Mr Palmer had demanded more resources for his party, which now has a deal with Motoring Enthusiasts senator Ricky Muir, under threat of a very slow review process of legislation that could see just one piece of legislation passed in a year.

Windfall for polluters

Carbon advisory firm Reputex said the carbon tax repeal could unleash a $2 billion windfall for polluters.

The firm said: “The lack of support for the bill in the current Senate means that the carbon tax is unlikely to be repealed until October 2014 – mid way through the final year of the carbon tax.”

This could lead to “additional costs for the government, due to the cashing in of freely allocated permits to companies under industry assistance programs”.

“Under the Carbon Price Mechanism, brown coal generators and high emitting trade exposed companies receive free permits to help them adjust to the impact of carbon pricing. Free permits may be surrendered in place of buying carbon permits or, under a buy-back clause, surplus credits may be sold back to the government by liable entities.

“Should the CPM be unable to be disbanded until the end of September 2014, RepuTex notes that the government can expect companies to utilise the buy-back facility before the permits become worthless, with government facing a bill in excess of A$2 billion to cash in nearly 87 million freely allocated permits.

“In such a scenario, the Metals, Energy, and Power sectors – Australia’s largest emitters – stand to receive a significant cash windfall, while avoiding almost all liability for their emissions.”

2 October 2013 – Greg Hunt misleading and plain wrong on emissions claim

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has misled the Australian public on his claims that emissions went up with the carbon tax and that this proved the tax was ineffective, an ABC  Fact Check report said on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt has said that under the carbon price emissions have actually increased. In an interview with Lateline last week he quoted figures to back up the claim. And he repeated the claim in an opinion piece in The Australian Financial Review on Monday.

Read our full article

30 September 2013 – Global warming: What the Feds really think & Tony Abbott’s secret FOI letter

The Coalition Government will be forced to ramp up its commitment to climate action after the International Panel on Climate Change warned of severe global warming and sea level rises, and the world’s leaders ramp up emissions reductions targets ahead of another round of climate talks next year and the United Nations Climate Change Conference Warsaw in early November.

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