Labor to scrap direct action policy

Labor will scrap the Abbott government’s direct action climate change policy if elected.


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will use a speech to the University of NSW on Friday to declare the nation cannot afford to waste taxpayer money on a policy that will not work.

Labor will continue to honour contracts already awarded by the federal government under the $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund – where companies bid against each other to win funds to slash pollution.

Several bidders in the first ERF auction were farmers and organisations with existing projects funded under the now defunct carbon farming initiative.

“We will not continue to subsidise windfalls for companies that are already acting,” Mr Shorten will say.

The government costs its direct action policy at $200 million a year, but independent modelling suggests taxpayers could fork over hundreds of billions by 2030.

The opposition has pledged to introduce an emissions trading scheme if elected to government, saying it’s a more efficient way to tackle climate change.

While Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been warning this week of the cost of climate change action, his counterpart will stress the economic impact of doing nothing.

Mr Shorten will detail the risk of hundreds of billions of dollars because of extreme weather if global warming is not curbed.

Australians should be concerned about droughts, flooding, bushfires and rising sea levels, he will say, which will inflict costly damage to infrastructure and homes.

Mr Abbott revealed the government’s future carbon pollution goals on Tuesday, setting a 26 per cent emissions reduction target on 2005 levels by 2030.

In announcing the target – which will be submitted to the United Nations before the climate conference later this year – Mr Abbott stressed the economic danger of setting goals too high.

He detailed modelling that showed a 26 per cent target would cost Australia $4 billion in lost GDP by 2030, while a 40 per cent target would inflict a burden of $40 billion.

Climate groups and opposition political parties were quick to slam the ambition as weak.

Mr Shorten will continue that attack on Friday, labelling the target “sub-prime”.

He will claim the government does not have the tool box to reach the target and relies on vague plans for energy, vehicle efficiencies and technology improvements.

“When it comes to fossil fuels, we are bumping our heads on the ceiling of efficiency,” he will say, adding that return on investment is diminishing.

He will accuse Mr Abbott making policy decisions based on his personal prejudice against wind farms.

“This is not leadership, this is gambling.”