Monday, March 9, 2009

Carbon polluters to hit campaign trail

The Age, March 9, 2009

THE campaign to overhaul the Federal Government's climate change policy will escalate this week as big greenhouse polluting companies and their lobbyists target politicians representing voters in coal mining, steel and aluminium towns.

The campaign will warn MPs and senators of job losses, risks to regional economies and a downturn in investment unless the Government scheme gives greater help to industry.

Lobbyists and MPs said Labor and Coalition backbenchers will be targeted by companies and their lobbyists including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata when Climate Change Minister Penny Wong releases the new draft laws for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme tomorrow.

The Australian Coal Association will be taking a slide show campaign to backbenchers pressing its case for compensation under the scheme.

The head of the association, Ralph Hillman, claims coal companies have been unfairly treated under the scheme because of the political sensitivity of giving compensation to the industry.

Many companies will be fielding their own executives in the campaign but a search of the Federal Government's new lobbying register reveals that almost all the key players have also engaged some of Canberra's leading lobbyists.

Listed on the register are Gavin Anderson and Company representing BHP Billiton and BlueScope Steel and Businesscertainty representing Woodside.

Businesscertainty's John Daley is Canberra's most experienced lobbyist on the carbon emissions trading scheme and previously worked closely with the Howard government on drafting a scheme that was more generous to industry.

Woodside has got a better deal for the liquefied natural gas business from the Government but wants more changes to the new scheme.

Environment groups are heavily critical of the Government's scheme, saying it gives too many free permits to pollute to industry and too much compensation.

In Four Corners on the ABC tonight, the Government's former climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, says there has been, "a huge investment in seeking to influence the political process" of over the scheme. Lobbying has intensified with the profits downturn of the big polluting companies.

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