Wednesday, July 1, 2009

States 'get raw deal' under emissions scheme

ABC News Online, 2 July 2009

Public policy think-tank The Australia Institute says the states and territories will be among the hardest hit by the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme.

It estimates rising energy prices under the scheme will add billions of dollars to the electricity bills of state-run schools, hospitals and other bodies.

The Institute's Richard Denniss says state and territory governments will be asking for compensation from the Commonwealth at the Council of Australian Governments meeting.

Dr Denniss told ABC 1's Lateline the Federal Government is putting polluting industries ahead of the providers of crucial services.

"It's inconceivable that anyone could think that the big polluters are more deserving of assistance and compensation than the state governments that provide essential services like health and education," he said.

"And the terrible choice that the state premiers are going to face, if they can't get compensation, is do they want to increased taxes or do they want to reduce the quality of services?"

The Greens say they will be insisting the Federal Government give the states and territories compensation under its emissions trading scheme.

Greens leader Bob Brown has told Lateline the Government's legislation ignores the state and territories, while giving billions of dollars in compensation to foreign-owned resource companies.

"The money will drain out of Australia instead of into public schools and hospitals," he said.

"It is just not logical, it's not ethical, it's poor policy and the Greens, of course, will be moving to amend that part of the legislation and to make sure that the public health and education systems are given due compensation before the polluters."

Senator Brown says the states need to make sure they are not ignored by the Commonwealth.

"It will now mean that the states will have to take notice, defend their patch, look after their health and education systems and put the case to Kevin Rudd that they should be in the queue long in front of the coal industry and the big polluters," he said.

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