Albo slams Govt's ‘ignorance’ on climate, truce blown apart
ANTHONY Albanese's call to bury the climate wars and develop a bipartisan energy policy lasted less than a day as he branded the Morrison Government "ignorant" on science.
The Opposition Leader yesterday used a major speech on science and the economic recovery from coronavirus to flesh out his plan for bipartisan negotiations with the Government on an energy framework.
But despite writing to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday offering to set aside divisions in the hope of ending a decade of policy failures, he continued hammering the Coalition's record on science and energy.
"We've had, since 2013, no energy policy in this country. That's not good for the national economy in terms of jobs given the recession that we're in. But it's also not good for action on climate change," he said.
"We're here to help. We're being constructive."
Mr Albanese endorsed the Government's technology investment road map and welcomed its "new-found acceptance" of renewable energy but ruled out elements such as nuclear power.
He said Labor was committed to Australia reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but refused to outline interim targets to reach that goal, saying they would be decided before the next election.
But he also reignited past policy disagreements and said the Government had a history of ignoring science that was not just "mere incompetence".
He attacked comments Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack made earlier this year downplaying the role of climate change in the summer bushfires.
"It is embarrassing, but not surprising," he said
"When it comes to listening to science, this Government has been conveniently ignorant."
He said the pandemic had been a "wake-up call" for the Government on science and it had "begrudgingly shelved ideology in favour of expertise".
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said Labor had not explained how its policies would create jobs, bring down power prices or keep the lights on.
But was noncommittal on whether the Government would take up Mr Albanese's offer and join bipartisan negotiations.
"We'll always consult with all stakeholders to make sure we're getting the best ideas," he said.
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott welcomed the call for bipartisanship and called on the parties to continue the "unprecedented co-operation" achieved during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We have long called for a bipartisan, national climate and energy framework that is scalable and provides business with the confidence they need to drive new investment, create new jobs and accelerate our transition to net-zero emissions," she said.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Climate and energy policy has been a major political battleground since Kevin Rudd's election in 2007. He tried and failed to legislate a carbon trading scheme. Julia Gillard instituted a carbon tax, breaking an election promise, which contributed to her downfall and was scrapped by Tony Abbott. Malcolm Turnbull tried to implement the National Energy Guarantee - to reduce emissions, drive down prices and stabilise the electricity grid - but that divided his colleagues and also sparked his removal as prime minister. All of this has meant Australia has lacked a comprehensive energy and climate policy for a decade, which experts, industry and business groups, environmentalists and unions say has constrained investment in renewable technology and forced up household energy bills.
WHAT IS ALBO PROPOSING?
The Labor leader wants to negotiate a bipartisan policy framework with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which would include allowing both parties to set their own emissions targets. Albanese is open to taxpayer support for clean coal but wants continued funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
WHAT DOES THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT THINK OF THAT?
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has welcomed Albanese's support for his energy technology road map as "great news". He would not commit to a joint approach to forming a new policy framework, but said the Government would "always consult with all stakeholders".
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES TO AN ENERGY TRUCE?
Both parties have internal divisions on climate and energy policy, which has made it difficult for their leaders to deliver an effective and comprehensive policy.
Originally published as Albo slams Govt's 'ignorance' on climate as truce blown apart