Abbott claims CET 'a tax on coal'
TONY Abbott has warned taxpayers or homeowners will likely bear the brunt of a Clean Energy Target being considered by the Turnbull government.
The former prime minister has spoken out against the recommendation by Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, calling the CET "effectively, a tax on coal”.
It puts Mr Abbott once again at odds with senior government ministers, who are touting Dr Finkel's report as the "way forward” to end the political deadlock on climate and energy policy after almost a decade.
Speaking to Sydney radio station 2GB yesterday, Mr Abbott criticised news reports that framed as "a magic pudding” Dr Finkel's plan to reward low-emission fuels while not punishing high-emissions fuel.
"We all know there's no such thing as a magic pudding,” Mr Abbott said.
"If you are rewarding one type of energy, inevitably that money's got to come from somewhere, either from consumers or taxpayers. If it's from consumers, well it's effectively a tax on coal and that's the last thing we want.”
Mr Abbott's warning is at odds with Dr Finkel's finding that the CET or "Low Emissions Target” is the best way to force power prices down and bring stability to the energy market over the next three decades.
On Sunday, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg confirmed he had spoken to Mr Abbott and other Liberal backbenchers to ask that they consider the report on its merits.
While some Liberal backbenchers have raised concerns about how Dr Finkel's CET will impact coal-fired power and electricity prices, left-wing politicians have slammed the report as a political fix that does not tackle climate change.
"There's no point having certainty if we lose the Great Barrier Reef, if we end up in a warming world where we see more extreme weather, heatwaves and cyclones and bushfires,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC yesterday.
"That is the future that lies ahead of us so we need to make the transition and we need to make it rapidly,” Dr Di Natale said.
Dr Finkel has rejected warnings that power prices could rise as a result of the proposed changes.
In his first interview since handing down the report on Friday, he also hit back at criticisms his proposed CET would force out coal-fired power.
"There is no aspects of allowance or permission here,” he told The Australian. "Permission comes from government.
"Permission is not decided by the clean energy target at all. So it's just not right when people say it's not allowing something.”
Dr Finkel also said: "There are many people who think that business as usual is the key to lower prices, but there is no evidence of that.
"In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.”
His review leaves it up to government to set the emissions intensity threshold of any CET.