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 March 10, 2009
Australia's Climate Plan Faces Stormy Weather

 GLOBE-Net - Despite concerns from many quarters that now is not the right time for Australia to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions, the government of Prime Minister Rudd has released draft legislation for a national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

In releasing the draft legislation and explanatory materials for the pollution reduction scheme, Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, said "Australians have made it clear that they understand the challenge of climate change and they want a government that will act."

"As one of the hottest and driest countries on earth, Australia’s environment and economy will be one of the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we don’t act now," she added.

But the opposition to the plan is strong, and many industry groups have vowed to fight it, or to at least delay its implementation.

Australians are not prepared to pay "anywhere near the expected costs" of the Federal Government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme according to an Australian National University (ANU) survey of public opinion. The newly released study by the ANU Crawford School of Economics and Government’s Professor Jeff Bennett and PhD student Sonia Akter was conducted in November and December 2008 suggests the CPRS would make Australia worse off.

Large greenhouse polluting companies and their lobbyists have cited the study’s findings and plan to target politicians representing voters in coal mining, steel and aluminum producing towns. The campaign will warn MPs and senators of job losses, risks to regional economies and a downturn in investment unless the Government scheme gives greater help to industry.

"This is all about creating the jobs of the future," said Senator Wong. The CPRS is a whole of economy reform that will, for the first time, put a price on carbon and encourage investment in new, low pollution technologies."

Building on the Green Paper and White Paper released last year, the draft legislation sets out in legislation what is required of participants in the Scheme and the mechanics of the Scheme that will ensure Australia’s emissions reductions targets achieved.

The Government is seeking submissions from interested parties on the exposure draft legislation by close of business Tuesday, 14 April 2009. Senator Wong has also recommended that the Senate Standing Committee on Economics report by 14 April 2009 to ensure the findings of the Committee can be considered in the final legislation.

Senator Wong will move a motion in the Senate tomorrow recommending that the exposure draft legislation be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics to ensure the Senate has the earliest possible opportunity to consider the legislative package.

"The Government is very mindful of the need to deliver business certainty and a clear position in the lead up to the Copenhagen climate change conference. Passing the legislation during the 2009 winter sittings will deliver this certainty," Senator Wong said.

Copies of the draft legislation, commentaries, and details on how to make public submissions can be found on the Department of Climate Change website: http://www.climatechange.gov.au/.