(Sonya Feldhoff: Good afternoon, Senator.) Good afternoon, Sonya and listeners, a pleasure to be with you. (Feldhoff: This policy, how does it differ from the climate change policy we’ve seen from the Government in the past?) Sonya, this is a markedly different approach that the Coalition is taking to climate change in Australia and it’s an approach centred on direct action… by that we mean actually focusing Government efforts and policy efforts on the areas where you can reduce emissions or achieve carbon abatement rather than implementing some type of all-encompassing tax type scheme as the Government’s emissions trading scheme plans to do. So our policy is much more cost effective than the Government’s, it’s much less complex than the Government’s in terms of achieving direct action, and 100 per cent of our policy is dedicated to focusing on how you reduce carbon emissions whereas the ETS approach of the Government with a five per cent target is really five per cent action but 95 per cent of it is all about tax and revenue and churning money through. And the evidence really lies in the difference in costs during the forward estimates period of the budget our Emissions Reduction Fund, that the Coalition will support, will be a 2.5 billion dollar fund. The Government’s ETS will churn through some 10.4 billion dollars more than four times the amount and that of course will have a far greater impact on the costs for Australian families and small businesses. (Feldhoff: So let’s look at the differences. As I understand it, you’re scheme involves an incentive program for industry to choose to do the right thing, I guess, as far as carbon emissions go. Is that correct?) That’s right, the Emissions Reduction Fund will go out into the market… will ask for businesses, farmers, groups that can reduce carbon emissions or abate carbon in soil… ask them to put in tenders to the Government and say ‘we can make a certain abatement, a certain reduction in carbon in the atmosphere and can do so for a certain price.’ The Coalition has spoken to numerous industry organisations, companies and others and sought their letters of comfort and commitments from them that this is achievable, that we can actually achieve the carbon reductions by going out into the market, asking people what type of incentive, or subsidy if you like, they will need to take that action and reduce that carbon so it is very much a carrot-driven approach rather than the big stick tax approach that the Government is taking. (Feldhoff: Are you confident that enough industries or businesses will take up that carrot approach, though?) We are… (Feldhoff: … to make it effective, I guess?) Absolutely. The assurances and the commitments we have had from people who believe they would be interested in this program and the way that it’s been funded and budgeted is such that we can more than adequately meet the Government’s five per cent target as is… there’s plenty of room to move in that regard, so we know that this can be done in a far less costly and more cost effective manner than the Government’s ETS is proposing and that’s what this policy today is about providing Australians with a very clear choice on climate change and climate action, one where we can say exactly how we will achieve carbon reduction in the atmosphere and how we will go about it in Australia and provide win-win benefits for the environment, versus the Government who are simply saying ‘we’ll put a tax on everything and hope that reduces emissions.’
[Sonya Feldhoff speaks with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong]
(Feldhoff: Just to respond to some of her [Senator Wong’s] comments let’s quickly go back to Senator Birmingham. Senator?) Penny Wong has claimed a few things there. She claims that Australian working families will be better off, well that is just laughable under the Government’s ETS. The reality is that the New South Wales independent regulator has been looking at electricity price rises purely related to the ETS, not accounting for any other pressures on electricity, of up to 25 per cent between 21 and 25 per cent by 2013, so if people wish to be paying for a quarter as much again for their electricity, see those costs pushed right through the economy, all for the fact that it is a big tax and churn money-go-round, the Government’s ETS… what we’re looking at here is a real contrast between… the Coalition and Tony Abbott offering direct action, where we will say100 per cent of the money that we choose to spend on climate change will go to carbon abatement and reducing carbon in the atmosphere… the Government wants to tax 100 per cent of carbon emissions in the atmosphere and hopes to get a five per cent reduction from it… so ours is a far more focused and cheaper approach. (Feldhoff: Simon Birmingham, thanks for your time Simon.) It’s a pleasure, Sonya, any time.