By Andrew Bolt ~
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s everything-on-the-table review of climate policies is going as badly as last year’s everything-on-the-table review of tax options.
Here is what Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg suggested just two days ago – a form of carbon tax on power stations:
The electricity sector is the one which produces the most emissions — around a third of Australia’s emissions come from that sector. We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme.
Sure, not strictly a carbon tax. Coal-fired generators which emitted too much carbon dioxide would pay a penalty not to the government but to mainly foreign traders in (dodgy) carbon certificates. But for the electricity users, the effect would be the same: their electricity would cost more.
The reaction was swift and savage:
Yesterday Tony Abbott drew a line in the sand:
I’m sure the last thing ministers want to do is reopen questions that were settled for our side back in 2009. We’re against a carbon tax. We’re against an ETS [emissions trading scheme].
We’re against anything that’s a carbon tax or an ETS by stealth. We are the party of lower power prices and should let Labor be the party that artificially increases prices under Green pressure.
Interestingly, Minister Christopher Pyne also attacked his Cabinet colleague, who just happens to be a rival to Pyne’s ally, Scott Morrison, for conservative support in any future leadership battle:
Asked whether a price on carbon in the energy sector might help improve the stability and affordability of power supplies, Mr Pyne said, “no”.
“The last carbon tax was a $15.4 billion hit on the Australian economy,” he said. “As soon as that was removed, of course, energy prices dropped quite dramatically. So we have absolutely no intention of returning to a carbon tax.
The Coalition has vowed not to introduce an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector, as Malcolm Turnbull seeks to quell a backbench revolt over climate change policy and target Labor over its plans for a new price on carbon…
Following a cabinet meeting in Sydney, and in response to questions from The Australian, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg issued a statement ruling out any policy that would increase electricity prices, including an emissions intensity scheme. “The government will not be adopting new policies which increase the already high cost of electricity for Australian families,” he told The Australian.
“In particular, the government will not introduce an emissions intensity scheme, which is a form of trading scheme that operates within the electricity generation sector. It is the Labor Party which, by putting ideology ahead of common sense, promises both more expensive and less reliable energy.”..
“We are committed to tackling climate change without a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme that will hike up power bills,” the government said in a statement.
I seriously doubt Frydenberg suggested this emissions intensity scheme all by himself.
After all, the Government is led by Turnbull, who once backed emissions trading. Head of Turnbull’s department is Martin Parkinson, who as head of Kevin Rudd’s Department of Climate Change crusaded for emissions trading. And head of Turnbull’s social policy formation is Lin Hatfield Dodds, the former Greens candidate who has argued “the introduction of emissions trading is central to achieving significant reductions in Australian greenhouse gas emissions“.
Just one week ago the Turnbull Government was given a great political gift: blackouts in wind-powered South Australia and price hikes in Victoria caused by the announced closure of its biggest coal-fire generator gave it a powerful platform for attacking Labor over its 50 per cent renewable energy target.
Instead, it floated putting its own price hit on coal-fired power. Turned itself into a target.
What a stupid, stupid mistake.
We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme, which is effectively a baseline and credit scheme, we’ll look at that.
Frydenberg on Tuesday:
I didn’t mention an emissions intensity scheme, its not in any document that the Coalition has put out, in relation to this review. The Turnbull Government is not contemplating such a scheme … we’re not advocating for such a scheme.
Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.