Thursday, 3 December 2009

Business laments deal delay

Tuesday 1/12/2009 Page: 4

BUSINESS leaders were viewing the uncertainty surrounding the government's emissions trading scheme and the Coalition's possible alternative climate change policies with increasing alarm yesterday. The industry most affected by the introduction of any carbon price aluminium said the ETS deal negotiated between Malcolm Turnbull and the Rudd government was probably the best it was going to get." target="_blank">Australian Aluminium Council executive director Miles Prosser said: "This ETS deal addresses a lot of our concerns. We would rather see it go through because we can't see the circumstances emerging that would deliver a better outcome."

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, representing the LNG industry among others, was concerned that a policy vacuum would mean more piecemeal regulation. APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson said: "We made real progress in the ETS negotiations.., above all else, we do not now want to see a return to a piecemeal uncoordinated approach to climate change through state and federal regulations."

Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte, an outspoken critic of earlier versions of the government scheme, wrote to the Opposition Leader yesterday saying passage of an amended ETS would provide the LNG industry with vital investment certainty. The Business Council of Australia said its views had not changed since a statement released last week "commending' the deal and saying it would "enable Australian businesses to plan for and make the required decisions about investments to transition Australia to a low-emissions economy".

The Energy Supply Association of Australia was concerned at the prospect of delay and the suggestion that the Coalition could favour reducing emissions through regulation. ESAA executive director Brad Page said: "We really need to see a final carbon policy sooner rather than later because large-scale investment is waiting for it." Mitch Hooke, chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, which has opposed the government's ETS model, said a deferral "gives us the opportunity to get the design right".

"We know we have to have a carbon price but we can look at partial auctioning under a better designed ETS, or at a carbon tax," he said. Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said his members strongly supported the passage of the CPRS. "Delaying the certainty of a carbon price simply delays investor certainty. The most important thing is to make a start on these investments." he said.