Monday, 27 September 2010 13:21
Julia Gillard will move fast to try to reassert the government’s credentials on climate change when Parliament sits for the first time since the election.

The Prime Minister will announce as early as today the make-up of a committee to forge the way to a price on carbon, a signal of the government’s wish to gain the initiative on an issue that bedevilled its first term in office.

The committee is expected to include the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, the Green’s climate change spokeswoman, Christine Milne, and academic experts.

In his weekly economic note yesterday, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, laid out the government’s  direction: “I’m looking forward to the new parliament adopting a more co-operative approach to tackling the key issues for our future, like putting a price on carbon and delivering certainty for business.” It was the first mention of a price on pollution in Mr Swan’s note since February.

The cause of a carbon price was given a boost on Friday when Treasury decided to release, after freedom-of-information requests, its Red and Blue books of incoming advice to the government and opposition.

The briefs delivered a strong endorsement of using market mechanisms – such as emissions trading scheme – to curb pollution levels. The Blue Book, which Treasury would have handed to the Coalition had it won power, strongly queried its “direct action” plan to tackle climate change without a carbon tax or trading scheme.

Cutting emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 “cannot be achieved without a carbon price unless significant economic and budget impacts are to be imposed”, the Blue Book said.

Yesterday Ms Gillard reiterated her offer for Coalition MP’s to sit on the climate change committee, an offer the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has rejected on behalf of his MP’s.

“We’re putting together a committee that is open to representatives of all sides of politics who agree that climate change is real and we need to price carbon in order to reach the targets we’ve set ourselves in 2020,” said Ms Gillard, who moved in to the lodge yesterday.

Mr Combet suggested on Thursday that he was likely to sit on the committee. “It’s obviously going to be a pivotal part of my work…and I’ll be closely involved with the development, or the discussion and the consensus building and the expert advice and the consideration of the policy options on how we develop a carbon price,” he said.

Source: Cool Sydney.