Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Strategy wins praise, but devil's in the detail

Adam Morton 
The Age, July 17, 2008

UNIONS were last night lavishing praise on the Government's climate-change plan, with ACTU president Sharan Burrow saying it would act as a safeguard for future generations.

Business groups were more cautious with their praise, but said they were pleased that their calls for compensation for heavy polluters and coal-fired power stations had been heard.

With the campaign for compensation — if not the detail of the amount — won, Ms Burrow said industry and business had a responsibility to ensure jobs were not lost once they had to buy greenhouse permits.

"We will be looking very closely to ensure that in any compensation to business there is also an obligation to change their work practices to adjust to a low-carbon economy, or we risk seeing jobs in many industries going offshore," she said.

Ms Burrow said vulnerable families deserved compensation, but warned that others would have to bear a greater cost. "There are, of course, working Australians who will be willing and able to actually do their bit by absorbing small cost increases," she told the ABC.

The Business Council of Australia said the discussion paper released by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong was an important starting point for discussions about Australia's role in cutting global emissions.

"The devil remains in the detail in terms of whether the options put forward will achieve the twin objectives of sustaining growth while meaningfully reducing emissions," council president Greg Gailey said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the carbon-reduction green paper "ticked the right boxes".

She said the Government had acknowledged the difficulties businesses would face preparing to start by 2010 by including a price cap for carbon pollution permits for the first five years.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Government had provided clarity, but bemoaned the lack of modelling. Treasury modelling of the impacts of climate change on the economy have been pushed back until October.

The National Farmers Federation welcomed the Government's decision to exclude agriculture until at least 2015.

Tony Maher, national president of the CFMEU, the mining and construction union, applauded the Government for taking the community with it on "the first big nation-building project of this century".

"Today we have certainty for workers and families that the Government will be putting in place policies that protect jobs and the environment in a carbon-constrained future," Mr Maher said.

He called for more research on how trade-exposed industries would be affected.

Catholic Social Services Australia said the blueprint appeared to have met the needs of low-income households.

No comments: