Senator Xenophon says Clive Palmer's ETS a 'con'

INDEPENDENT senator Nick Xenophon has labelled Clive Palmer's plan for an Emissions Trading Scheme as "a con".

Mr Xenophon, who also holds influential voting rights in the Senate, said he would support scrapping the carbon tax if there was a workable ETS framework in place.

But he said what Mr Palmer was proposing would start at some indeterminable time in the future, suggesting it could be anything from five years to 30 years before it started, and at an undetermined price.

"There is no set time because it's so conditional on other countries adopting an ETS," he said.

"For that reason I think it's a con.

"There's nothing there."

Mr Xenophon said there must be another option or there was no alternative to carbon abatement on the table.

Mr Palmer, whose three Palmer United Party Senate-elects with Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party's Ricky Muir, will essentially have the balance of power in the Senate from this week.

Standing this week aside former US vice president Al Gore, who campaigns against global warming, Mr Palmer announced he would help the Coalition push the carbon tax repeal - its key election promise - through the Senate.

But, in return, he wants electricity savings passed on to consumers and an emissions trading scheme ready if needed.

Mr Palmer told APN on Sunday that he hoped Australia's main trading partners - such as China, Japan and the US - would have an ETS in place within the year.

He said one reason Australia should time its own ETS with those countries was market access.

"If someone wants to export goods from Australia to the US and we haven't got an ETS in operation then we have to pay their ETS to get market access," he said.

"That fee will go to the American government if Australia doesn't have its own ETS."

Mr Palmer said if Australia did not link the ETS implementation to other countries then industries would take their enterprises overseas and jobs would be affected.

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen told ABC's Insider program that Labor supported moving from a fixed carbon price to a floating carbon price.

When it was suggested that left no mechanism in place to get Labor to its 5% reduction target, he said the Opposition would consider each piece of legislation that came before the Senate but the ETS should be linked to the market.

"We will consider steps we think should be taken, we will consider the Opposition's approach to the government's policies of the day," he said.

"The decision we are very clear about is that Australia needs an emissions trading scheme.

"If the government is determined to deny Australia an emissions trading scheme, then the Labor Party will consider its position after that."

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