News | 29th Jul, 2011

Carbon price sell ready to roll out

Friday, 29 July 2011
Michelle Grattan, The Age

The Gillard government will start next week to blitz households with a $4 million mail-out to explain and sell its carbon price.

It is also launching a consultative process on its legislation, put out in draft form yesterday.

But it has made it clear that it will not make substantive policy changes.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the brochure to households would explain the impact of the carbon price on them and the assistance they would get to help with the ''moderate price impacts''.

The opposition attacked the mail-out, labelling it junk mail, with spokesman Greg Hunt saying the government could find $4 million for a brochure ''without telling you how much your electricity will go up''.

Releasing the legislation, which includes 14 bills, the government said submissions would be taken from the public until August 22.

In the meantime, the Climate Change Department will meet stakeholders and legal experts to discuss the bills.

The final legislation will go to Parliament in September.

Environment Victoria, the state's leading green group, said it was deeply concerned that the legislation failed to enshrine the government's key commitment to replace 2000 megawatts of Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power stations.

''The draft law signals the government's intent to try to achieve this, but it fails to lock it in,'' leading to a threat that the biggest polluters such as the Hazelwood power station could keep polluting indefinitely, the group said.

The Business Council of Australia said it was modelling elements of the package and would release its analysis. It repeated that there were areas of major concern.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said her party would go over the draft with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it reflected the agreement the Greens had signed up to.

Elisa de Wit, from the law firm Norton Rose Australia, which practices in the climate change area, said significant parts of the legislation were the same as the previous Rudd government's legislation for an emissions trading scheme.

''The main differences include a higher target of emissions reduction of 80 per cent by 2050, and no statutory target set for 2020 – although the bipartisan target of 5 per cent reduction by 2020 is currently the adopted position of all political parties,'' she said.

''The significance of this omission is that it may be possible for the 5 per cent target to be increased prior to the 2020 deadline.''

But the government pointed out that the legislation included a ''default setting'' that would achieve a 5 per cent reduction by 2020.