Labor loses key carbon supporter Heather Ridout

TONY Abbott has vowed to scrap Julia Gillard's carbon tax and demanded she seek a mandate for the plan as Labor's closest business adviser, Heather Ridout, refused to back the Prime Minister's package.

As the Opposition Leader labelled Ms Gillard a "fraud" for breaking her pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax, the Prime Minister branded Mr Abbott the most irresponsible political leader in 15 years over his vow to scrap the program.

But Ms Ridout, the Australian Industry Group chief executive, last night declined to back Ms Gillard's proposal to introduce a fixed carbon price from July 1 next year and an emissions trading scheme three to five years later.

"The jury is very much still out on the introduction of a carbon price in Australia, with industry very concerned about the competitive impacts," Ms Ridout said.

"In this regard, all options should still be on the table, including that of rollback until the final shape of the government's proposal is clear.

"While certainty is important for decision-making around major long-term investments, this certainty should not come at the cost of a loss of competitiveness that sends jobs and emissions offshore or risks the continuity of energy supply."

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally yesterday insisted she had no qualms about Ms Gillard's decision to resurrect a carbon tax in the final weeks of the NSW election campaign, and said former prime minister Kevin Rudd "miscalculated" when he ditched an emissions trading scheme last year.

Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard's pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax smacked of "political desperation".

"This Prime Minister is not frank - she is a fraud," he said.

"This house demands that the Prime Minister first seek a mandate from the people before introducing her carbon tax."

However, on the ABC's Q&A program last night, Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull warned there was a danger the Coalition's direct action policy could result in "waste".

Asked to nominate any economist who was backing the Coalition's plan, Mr Turnbull said he could not name one ...




NZ Govt welcomes Australian carbon price initiative 

24 February 2011Media Statement    ---- M                         Media statement

Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith today welcomed the announcement by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard that Australia is to put a price on carbon from 1 July 2012.


“Today’s announcement confirms Australia will introduce a fixed carbon price under the structure of an emissions trading scheme to reduce greenhouse gases,” Dr Smith said. 


“This proposed market-based mechanism will be very similar to New Zealand’s ETS. It will include all six greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol and will apply to the electricity, stationary energy, transport and industrial process sectors of the economy – with the exception of agriculture. It also includes a fixed price transitioning to a market in the future.


“The New Zealand Government will keep a close eye on progress to price carbon across the Tasman. Late last year the New Zealand Government announced the establishment of a panel to review our ETS requiring it to give careful consideration to progress made on climate change by our closest trading partners, including Australia. This development will impact on the review although important details are yet to be finalised with the Australian scheme.


“The New Zealand and Australian economies are closely integrated and it makes good sense for us to work closely together on climate change and carbon emission pricing. Today’s development in Australia reinforces the close working relationship our governments have on this global challenge.”     

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