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Coalition's carbon plan 'a secret tax'

Some electricity and coal companies would have had to pay for their rising emissions last year under the Coalition's direct action climate change policy despite the opposition stressing they would not be penalised, according to a Labor analysis.

It found the direct action policy would have raised $158.8 million - more than the hotly contested mining tax - under a clause that promises companies would have to pay only for greenhouse gas emissions above ''business-as-usual'' levels.

The analysis was based on the emissions figures reported to the federal government under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting system. It assumes penalties would be levied at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.

It found about 220 companies met the criteria for penalties under the direct action scheme by increasing their emissions in 2011-12.

Climate Change Minister Mark Butler said it showed the direct action policy was a ''secret new carbon tax'', but opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt rejected the analysis outright and insisted the direct action plan would not raise any revenue.


The analysis found International Power would have faced a $14.9 million bill under direct action, Queensland power generator Stanwell would have been penalised $10.4 million and Woodside Petroleum $8.9 million.

Other major polluters exposed under direct action would include Alcoa ($8.7 million), Rio Tinto ($8.4 million), AGL ($8.2 million) and BHP Billiton ($7.2 million).

Based on the latest budget estimates, the total cost to big polluters is higher than that raised by the mining tax once administration costs are factored in.

''This is Tony Abbott's own carbon tax that he's keeping secret, just like the savage cuts he's hiding from Australians,'' Mr Butler said.

''The man who said he'd fight a price on carbon until his last political breath has a great, big, new carbon tax sitting in the fine print of his own policy documents.''

Mr Hunt said the analysis was ''wrong, fabricated and false''.

Asked to expand on how the figures were wrong, Mr Hunt said: ''The reason is that we have booked no revenue from direct action and therefore those figures are completely wrong.

''We are budgeting zero revenue - repeat zero revenue - from direct action. The ALP is currently raking in $9 billion from the carbon tax and this is set to rise by 50 per cent by 2019, according to the [pre-election economic and fiscal outlook].''

Iain MacGill, a director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets at the University of NSW, said the data released by the government was a ''useful analysis''.

''As far as we know from the bits of detail we have seen about direct action, this appears to be how it would be implemented … But we really need the opposition to release the details of the policy to understand how it would work,'' Dr MacGill said.


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