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Australia: Election Fears May Force Labor To Change Climate Policy

Rosie Lewis, The Australian

[Australia’s] Labor Party could dump its emissions trading scheme policy ahead of the 2016 election after climate change spokesman Mark Butler revealed the party would look to build “an alternative” strategy.

Mr Butler said he wanted to have a “broad ranging, free discussion” with stakeholders and the community about “a range of different” policies, including an ETS, as international schemes developed.

“If Clive Palmer and his party are going to support the abolition of everything (in the new Senate) … we’ll obviously as an opposition have to take stock and over the next year or two build an alternative policy arrangement to take to the Australian people,” Mr Butler said on Sky’s Australian Agenda program.

“We will do that in a deliberative way. We will talk to the community, we will talk to stakeholders, to business, to environmental organisations, to the renewable energy sector.

“We will also have a look at what the context is, what the international background is depending on how negotiations proceed in the lead in to (the United Nations Climate Change Conference in) Paris.”

Labor has been favour of an ETS since Kevin Rudd campaigned on the policy at the 2007 election.

At the 2013 election, Labor promised to scrap the carbon tax and move to have a legislated cap on emissions, effectively an ETS.

But Mr Butler said climate change was a “very fast changing area” that needed to be continually reviewed.

“It would be unusual if a party that lost government simply dusted off its 2013 election platform across a whole range of policy areas and took it to 2016 without having reviewed it,” he said. “This is also a very fast changing area of policy — particularly during this term of the parliament — there are going to be very significant developments internationally one way or the other.

“The Labor Party is committed to taking action on climate change, strong and sensible actions on climate change, but we want to look at a range of different options.”

His comments come as Tony Abbott visited Houston, Texas, to promote his plan to scrap the carbon tax.

While the Prime Minister said Australia should look towards new energy sources, he said cheap and reliable energy should also be key.

“Australia should be an affordable energy superpower, using nature’s gifts to the benefit of our own people and the wider world,” he said.

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