Government may negotiate on ETS: Hunt
The Environment Minister has not ruled out negotiating with Clive Palmer over amendments to the government's climate policy.PT1M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3atkk 620 349 June 25, 2014
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Clive Palmer says Tony Abbott is not an "evil person" and he believes a solution can be found around the Fairfax MP's announcement yesterday on the carbon tax and wider action on climate change.
Speaking to reporters after his Thursday morning meeting with the Prime Minister in Canberra, Mr Palmer said that Mr Abbott was taking time to consider the Palmer United Party's proposal.
Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer arrives for his meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
"To be fair to the PM, our agenda we announced yesterday was a surprise to him but with any good idea, he's taken time to get some advice and that's what you would expect him to do," Mr Palmer said.
His comments come as climate groups warn that Australia may be left with no plan to tackle climate change if the Senate votes to repeal the carbon tax but rejects the Coalition's direct action policy. .
And Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, who is also a scientist, has attacked former US vice-president and climate change campaigner Al Gore, who appeared with Mr Palmer at his media conference on Wednesday, as a hypocritical ''climate warming guru''.
Mr Palmer announced on Wednesday that his Palmer United Party Senate team would back the repeal of the tax only if legal guarantees are in place to ensure energy companies pass on savings to consumers.
He also wants a new emissions trading scheme drafted with a zero-dollar starting price, plus the retention of key climate bodies.
The PUP will oppose the abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority, and allow the renewable energy target to continue until at least 2016.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation board member Martijn Wilder said on Thursday that it was "unfortunate" that Australia was removing its main measure to cap emissions from pollutants – the price on carbon – "at a time when many other governments around the world are putting in place those measures or already have them in place".
"I think the most important thing, and no one should miss this, is that what is actually proposed is to remove all obligations on polluters in Australia," Mr Wilder told ABC radio.
"This could leave Australia in the position where within three weeks time, we actually have no cap on greenhouse emissions . . . and no clear path forward as to when or how that will happen."
Climate Change Authority chief executive Anthea Harris told ABC radio on Thursday the nation needed "strong policies" to meet even its minimum commitment of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 2000 levels by 2020.
"We will need policies in place to achieve that, and certainly going beyond 2020 we need to be thinking about how to achieve stronger targets to there," she said.
"The Climate Change Authority thinks we need to be thinking about somewhere in the range between a 40 to 60 per cent reduction by 2030. We need to be putting in place the sorts of strong policies that are going to allow us to meet those kinds of targets."
PM 'not an evil person'
Mr Palmer said on Thursday that he did not want to engage in "ideological wars" and respected Mr Abbott as Australia's leader.
"I have known him for a long time. He is not an evil person. In 2010 I stamped around Australia trying to get him elected more than anybody else. It's important we stop and think, we don't want ideological wars," he said.
"What we are as Australians together is more important than the things that divide us. With all these political parties, we live in an adversarial position where there are good guys and bad guys but in the final analysis we are all Australian."
He said he and the PM were committed to getting electricity prices down and while he said the renewable energy target was not discussed, the talks did encompass retaining the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, but he stopped short of confirming any stand on an emissions trading scheme.
"It's premature [on emissions trading], we need to come to a final solution," Mr Palmer said.
"I made it clear what I thought yesterday. I don't want to make any announcements until we see the legislation."
Mr Palmer also said he believed that Mr Abbott recognised that climate change was a problem, which is why he had the direct action policy, but he refused to confirm whether the PUP would reject the scheme in the Senate.
"That is another item on the agenda. It's important we work with the world in synchronisation because from my experience in business, we want to access as many markets as we can, create as many jobs for Australians as possible," he said.
"We want to do it on a fair basis. We have [in] our proposal that we only operate when our trading partners do. It's unfair for us to have a penalty if other countries are not doing the same thing."
A spokesperson for Mr Abbott said the talks were ''genial'', but would not comment further.
But Liberal MP Dennis Jensen attacked Mr Gore in the Federation Chamber, cautioning the chamber to look after their wallets if Mr Gore was around.
"Gore will take money for anything," he said.
He also criticised the former US vice-president and climate change advocate for flying around the world and living in a mansion.
'Worst of both worlds'
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said Mr Palmer's opposition to direct action, and his support for the carbon tax repeal, is the "worst of both worlds".
Senator Xenophon has been working on amendments to the direct action policy, saying it could work with enough alterations.
Greens leader Christine Milne said she would try to convince Mr Palmer not to back the carbon tax repeal bills, which would also scrap the transition to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.
The mining magnate abstained on the carbon tax vote in the lower house because of his mining interests, and she said the PUP senators should do the same.
Asked what chance she had of changing the PUP leader's mind, Senator Milne said: "Last week, he wasn't very sure that climate change was real.
"This week he's saving the Renewable Energy Target, the (Clean Energy Finance Corporation) - I couldn't have predicted that last week," she told ABC radio.
"I think it would be foolhardy to predict what might happen next week, and that's why I will continue to argue that we keep the scheme we have got because it is working."
Muir's position uncertain
To add to the uncertainty, an adviser to Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator-elect Ricky Muir, who is an alliance with the PUP, told Fairfax radio that he might not vote with the PUP senators on the carbon tax repeal.
Senator-elect Muir's adviser, Glenn Druery said his boss was still getting his head around the issue, and would get a briefing from the government next week.
He said Senator-elect Muir, who will take his place in the Senate next month, was ''leaning towards'' voting to repeal the carbon tax and had a ''keen interest'' in clean energy projects.
Mr Druery insisted his boss was ''absolutely not'' a puppet for Mr Palmer.
''I don't think you can take it for granted that Ricky will vote with the Palmer United Party on all issues,'' he said.