News | 23rd Jul, 2010

Gillard plan cops criticism

Friday, 23 July 2010

The new plans for tackling climate change announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday have provoked mostly negative responses, not the least that of protester Bradley Smith who was arrested at her speech.

Mr Smith, a 26-year-old university student, was taking part in a protest by the Friends of the Earth environment group, who accused Ms Gillard of showing a "failure of leadership" when people wanted action.

"That means adopting strategies to drive down our greenhouse emissions rather than spending millions of dollars on yet another talk-fest," said national liaison officer Cam Walker, referring to Ms Gillard's plans for a "citizens assembly".

The citizens' assembly was also criticised by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Environment Victoria, who said no commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions existed and mining of coal seam gas wells would expand.

"An Auspoll survey in June found 79 per cent of Australians support a price tag on pollution," ACF executive director Don Henry said.

"The Government is already supporting the construction of two solar power stations; we should be building 30 of them."

Environment Victoria held a protest in Melbourne about the government's policy on Friday, describing it as "appalling" and giving the "green light" for 15 new coal-fired power stations nationally, including the HRL proposal in Victoria.

"The promise that new coal-fired power stations will have to be carbon capture ready is greenwash, particularly given that the commitment does not apply to the 15 existing proposals to build new coal-fired power stations," campaigns director Mark Wakeham said.

The Australian Geothermal Energy Association, representing producers of the renewable energy, said their members had mixed feelings.

They were pleased Labor would make it easier to connect renewable energy projects to the electricity grid but disappointed no new funding was given to geothermal projects.

The ACTU welcomed Ms Gillard's speech, saying jobs would be protected by Labor's move to support businesses that begin to reduce emissions ahead of a price on carbon.

"Acting now is the best way to minimise the impact on workers across the economy by helping new clean energy industries to grow and existing industries to modernise their processes," ACTU president Ged Kearney said.

World Vision chief executive Tim Costello called on the Gillard Government to reserve places on its proposed citizens assembly for neighbouring countries such as Tuvalu and Indonesia, that he said were already suffering from climate change.

For Environment Victoria's full response, swing past here