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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

18 August 2004

Another backflip - Latham's climate change policy in tatters


Labor leader Mark Latham's greenhouse policy is in tatters with the news that he would delay the implementation of his national greenhouse emissions trading scheme.

There can be but one reason for this - he now realizes that the scheme that he and his environment spokesman have been advocating for months is bad policy.

A recent report by Allen Consulting for the Victorian government indicated that a national emissions trading system could cost up to 15,000 jobs and drive up household electricity prices by as much as 27 per cent. A New Zealand Labour government estimate of its own proposed emissions trading scheme estimated petrol prices could rise by 6 cents a litre as well as significant hikes in power prices.

With an emissions trading scheme off the table, Mark Latham is now left with two greenhouse policy threads.

The first is ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which is highly unlikely to enter into force this year and will never do so unless Russia chooses to ratify. Kyoto's main effect on Australia will be investment losses and jobs exported to countries which are not confined by Kyoto targets.

Latham's other commitment on greenhouse is to raise the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 5 per cent by 2010, which would necessitate stopping the Kogan Creek power station development in Queensland, and shutting down perhaps two existing power stations, probably in South Australia.

Mark Latham's climate change policy boils down to this: He wants Australians to bear the enormous costs of a treaty that, at very best, will reduce global greenhouse gases by around just 1 per cent, and he wants to shut down inexpensive and reliable electricity power stations when the nation is crying out for increased base load capacity.

Labor's tattered climate change policy contrasts with the practical action pursued by the Howard Government, which will, without imposing ridiculous imposts on industries, without sacrificing jobs and without playing havoc with electricity prices:

During the Cunningham by-election in October 2002, Mark Latham called the Greens' climate policy "extremist". Since assuming the ALP leadership, however, he has openly courted the dark green forces with ideas designed merely to grab their votes. Now, he's backflipped again.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Fine Cotton racehorse affair, a timely reminder that we should all be very careful about betting on those who won't deliver. And on climate change policy, Mark Latham can't.

Commonwealth of Australia