Turnbull dumped; ETS in doubt


Tony Abbott elected new leader of the Liberal Party, putting in doubt the passage of emissions trading

By Brad Gardner | December 1, 2009

Malcolm Turnbull has been dumped in favour of Tony Abbott as the leader of the Opposition, putting in doubt the Rudd Government’s ability to pass emissions trading legislation.

Abbott, who won by one vote, pledged to support a move to send the Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to a Senate committee to report back next year.

The Government wanted the CPRS passed before climate change negotiations began in Copenhagen later this month, while the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has repeatedly supported emissions trading.

The scheme is expected to increse fuel prices for trucking operators because fuel manufacturers will be forced to buy permits to pollute, with the cost of permits to be passed on to consumers.

A one-year transition for the trucking industry will be introduced that will cut the fuel excise by one cent for every one cent rise in fuel as a result of the CPRS.

The National Party will not support the scheme despite the Opposition agreeing to vote in favour of emissions trading in return for the Government accepting amendments to help the coal and electricity sectors.

"The Nationals have had a consistent position on this matter from day one. We have not – and will not – support a tax on everything that does nothing to help the environment," Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss says.

The issue has divided the Coalition, with some Liberals and the entire National Party refusing to support emissions trading, while some Liberals such as Judith Troeth and Gary Humphries support the Government’s plan.

However, Truss says he and other colleagues have been inundated with emails and calls by people concerned about the impact of emissions trading on them.

Senator John Williams last month claimed the CPRS would increase the cost of new trucks because the cost manufacturing would rise.

Although the ATA says the CPRS will be an expensive impost on the industry, the lobby group argues the alternative is increased regulation and attempt to force more freight to be carried on rail or by sea.

"If the Coalition and the Government can’t agree on a workable emissions trading system, it will leave a policy vacuum that will be filled by the states, territories and local government," ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says.

"In response to public pressure, they will end up putting in place inconsistent sector-specific regulations that will impose a huge compliance burden on Australian businesses."
The Government’s White Paper on the CPRS says transport must be included in an emissions trading scheme because it contributes 14 percent of the country’s emissions, with road transport responsible for 90 percent of that figure.

The paper argues that increases to fuel prices will encourage the development of new cleaner technologies and force fuel users to reduce their demand on the resource.


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