Committee ignores third way in tackling climate change, say Federal conservatives
"Belief test" shows that it is religion, not science that is involved. Rather pathetic, really
THE Coalition has sharpened its attack on Labor's climate change committee, saying it's too secretive and based on accepting a pre-ordained outcome.
Squabbling over the committee intensified this morning before the official opening of the 43rd Australian parliament, the swearing-in of members and the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The government says members of the multi-party committee should be committed to establishing a price on carbon, and its deliberations will be in secret until an agreement is reached. The Coalition has refused the government's offer to sit on the committee.
Opposition spokesman for climate action Greg Hunt claimed today that a “belief test” had been imposed on the committee, saying the two options up for consideration were a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. “Our view is that there is a third way in terms of market mechanisms,” he told ABC radio.
“And that's the water buyback equivalent - what we would call direct action for a carbon buyback. “That's off the table. And you are not even allowed to participate in the committee unless you accept that the third way is not on the table,” he said.
“And I'm not aware respectfully of a belief test ever having been imposed. It's almost Orwellian to say we have a new openness but now in fact we have a) almost the most secret committee ever and b) certainly the only belief test committee in parliamentary history.”
Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said the government was effectively ruling him out of the committee, adding: “I'm probably the most highly qualified scientist in this place.” He said he was being ruled out because he didn't “believe in a carbon price”. “It's as simple as that. I'm being ruled out on that basis,” he said.
“It would make no difference if I thought that there were other mechanisms to tackle things. “And I think that there are things that you can do responsibly without needing to go to a carbon price regardless of what's your philosophical viewpoint on whether human beings are causing climate change or not.”
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet dismissed the criticisms as “hyperbole”. He said on Sky News it was “complete rubbish” that the committee required its members to have a pre-ordained position.
Mr Combet said membership of the committee membership was based on whether a political party respected the climate science, saying it would provide common ground to “move forward”. However, he confirmed the purpose of the committee was to “discuss the options for introducing a carbon price”.
Mr Combet also defended the confidentiality arrangements, arguing there would be some “very commercially sensitive” information being considered. However, he added that some of the information being considered could also be useful in stimulating debate, citing an updated version of Professor Ross Garnaut's climate change review.