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Saving The Economy: Climate Change Ministry Faces The Axe

OPPOSITION Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said last night he would consider disbanding the Department of Climate Change if the Coalition were to win the next election.

Mr Hockey, appearing on the ABC’s Lateline program, had been asked about the Coalition’s plan to cut 12,000 public servants’ jobs in a bid to rein in budget spending and went on to single out the department.

Mr Hockey attacked the accuracy of modelling carried out by the department in relation to the government’s carbon tax.

“This is the same Department of Climate Change that has been party to Treasury modelling where the carbon price was put at $20 a tonne instead of $23 a tonne,” he said.

“The Department of Climate Change would be very high up the list for close scrutiny (under budget cuts).”

Pressed by host Tony Jones if he would consider disbanding the department, he replied: “Yep.”

This came after Climate Change Minister Greg Combet was challenged by advocates to put nuclear electricity generation on the table as Australia debates the best ways to produce low-emissions power and cut carbon pollution by 80 per cent by 2050.

Speaking after Mr Combet again ruled out nuclear power as an option in the carbon debate as it was too expensive, nuclear advocates Ziggy Switkowski and Tim Wilson called for a debate on harnessing the energy source in Australia.

They said uranium represented a cheaper alternative to renewable technologies such as wind and solar and could produce reliable baseload power.

Asked about nuclear power on ABC radio in Sydney yesterday, Mr Combet said nuclear energy was “still a lot more expensive than any of the energy options we’ve got available to us”.

“And in particular in our country we’ve got tremendous resources available that will deliver us cheaper energy whether it be from more efficient generation from coal or conversion to natural gas-fired electricity,” he said.

“That’s going to be, I think, the next generation of electricity as an energy source in this country.”

Mr Wilson, director of climate change policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, said while nuclear was more expensive than coal and gas, it was cheaper than renewables.

The Australian, 4 August 2011