Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull’s latest climate change comments are evidence of a rift in Coalition ranks, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says.
Mr Turnbull has used a Sydney lecture to urge Liberals to accept and defend the science of climate change.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has previously questioned the science behind climate change and the role of humans in causing it but has since said he has changed his mind.Advertisement: Story continues below
Mr Combet said Mr Turnbull’s position was no surprise, given he supported the Rudd government’s carbon pricing plan.
“Malcolm Turnbull has highlighted yet again that he respects the climate science and supports the policies that the government is putting forward,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“Under mature political leadership in this country, if the Coalition had it, it would be getting behind carbon pricing.
“Malcolm Turnbull’s signalling very clearly I think that there are major differences on the Coalition side of politics.”
Mr Combet said Mr Abbott was being dishonest about Labor’s carbon tax being bad for Australia, and was trying to stir up fear among voters.
“At one time he supported a carbon tax, at another time he supported an emissions trading scheme, now he says it’s all no good and he’s just running around trying to instil fear in people,” he said.
“He’s dishonest and he should desist from it.”
Mr Combet denied Labor’s carbon tax agenda was being damaged by comments from Queensland’s Labor Premier Anna Bligh and former NSW Labor premier Morris Iemma.
Mr Iemma said the tax was costly and ineffective.
Ms Bligh said the carbon tax deal is not good enough for her state, and in some ways former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme was better.
“I simply don’t agree with Morris Iemma and I think it’s as simple as that. This is a reform that we need to make in our economy,” Mr Combet said.
“It’s a manageable reform and it’s one that we need to make for future generations.”
He said Ms Bligh was simply doing her job by sticking up for her state.
“We’ll be discussing the issues that she has raised and of course we understand the Queensland government’s position on some of the issues,” he said.
“But I make this point: this is a very strong package that the federal government has announced to support Queensland industry.
“We’re very confident that what we’ve put forward will work.”
Mr Combet denied claims by Mr Turnbull last night that the federal government’s carbon plan would suffer because it hadn’t embraced clean coal technology.
He said Mr Turnbull’s claim that the government had reduced funding for clean coal development was false.
“We’ve got $1.6 billion put aside for carbon capture and storage technology,” he said.
The challenge was not in funding but in making the technology commercially viable, he told reporters.
“Even that has been demonstrated, with the Gorgon LNG project in north Western Australia, which will be the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world, so we know that it can be done,” he said.
Mr Combet also promised that Queensland coalmines would be looked after under his government’s compensation package, saying “pollution intensive” areas such as Gladstone would receive significant compensation.
“The coal industry’s got a very bright future. A number of coalmines in Queensland will receive assistance from the federal government … to support job security in those industries,” he said.
“The Queensland economy will continue to grow, grow strongly, jobs will grow and output will grow under carbon pricing. We’re very confident of that.”
Mr Combet said Queensland’s black coal fuelled industry was in a better position than Victoria’s, which is largely fuelled by brown coal.
He says Queensland generators could benefit from the carbon pricing scheme, which would have a bigger impact on Victoria’s brown coal generators.
“We’re obviously keen to try and get the emissions intensity of that generation down overall and efficient generating capacity in Queensland could benefit from the overall changes,” he said.
And he defended Treasury modelling which found the impact of carbon pricing on commodities would be less than one cent in the dollar.
“Treasury … has a great track record, it did all of the modelling for the GST and of course it has performed exceptionally proficient work in advising for the federal government as part of federal government policy for many, many years,” he said.
“We’re confident of the modelling that’s been done.”
Mr Combet also said he did not think media coverage of the carbon tax policy had been unfair, telling reporters he had no complaints to make.
But he would not comment on whether criticism of Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd was warranted.
“I’ll leave the comments on News Ltd to others,” he said.
Someone on the right of politics get’s it !