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Abbott cannot scrap carbon price: Milne


Leader of the Greens, Christine Milne believes that if elected in 2013 Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be unable to repeal the carbon pricing mechanism.

She stated that Abbott must advise as to how the Coalition would finance the 5% reduction of green house gas levels they have agreed to.  Milne alludes that this will be unachievable without the carbon pricing mechanism.

Abbott and his ministers have been on message for the majority of 2012 about the evils of the carbon price. Before 1 July 2012, Opposition rhetoric concerned apocalyptic predictions of industry collapse, and post 1 July 2012 the rhetoric has been equally as vitriolic although now it relates to the effect the carbon price is having on electricity prices. This point was emphasizes by a parroting Opposition climate action spokesman, Greg Hunt, “the whole purpose of the carbon tax is to increase power prices. It is designed to increase power prices, it is intended to increase power prices and it does increase power prices". Here Hunt is using the carbon price to disguise a larger elephant in the National Electricity Market. The carbon price has increased prices because the majority of electricity comes from the combustion of fossil fuels and the price placed on carbon emission is passed from generator to end-user, but the other component of price increases has been spending by networks on infrastructure. When compared, the carbon price is responsible for every one dollar in ten, while the spending of networks in six dollars in ten.

The Coalition’s plan is to begin the first day in power by directing the public service to draft legislation to scrap the carbon price. Following that, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan will be implemented. Like the Government, it states that it will be sufficient to reduce carbon to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. Although, it states that it will do so without ‘a great big new tax’. This policy is currently more bones than meat and it is difficult to see how it can spur action into emissions abatement.

Key to the policy is the establishment of an Emission Reduction Fund that will enable businesses to be financially supported as they reduce their emissions. While details of the Fund are ambiguous it is said to exist to ‘directly support CO2 emissions reduction activities by business and industry’. What is also unclear is the baseline emissions levels used to calculate how much a business can emit and from where reductions are measured, and also what they will be penalized if the breach this level.