The Environment Minister in Australia’s new conservative Liberal-National government, Greg Hunt, saying the job of meeting the country’s emissions reduction target is easier than first thought.
Mr Hunt insists the coalition’s Direct Action plan will ensure Australia meets its emission reduction target, saying the job is easier than he first thought.
Doubts were cast during the recent election campaign over whether the target five per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 could be achieved with such a small amount of money.
Mr Hunt said he argued for the cap on spending because that was a responsible way to budget.
“We’ll not just reach our target, we’ll reach them easily,” he has now told Sky News.
AAP reports departmental briefings to the new minister had revealed that “on early, preliminary unofficial advice” the gap in tonnes of emissions to reduce was a lot lower than previous estimates.
He reiterated calls for the Labor opposition to “step out of the way” and let the coalition repeal the carbon price legislation.
Both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Australian Greens Party, which jointly hold the balance of power in the upper house Senate, have said they will block any moves to repeal the legislation.
However, Mr Hunt said the impost, on about 300 of the most polluting companies, would continue to be collected until that happened.
“The law is the law until it’s changed and until the ALP steps out of the way the carbon tax is there,” he said.
He still believed Labor would let the repeal legislation pass, despite leadership hopefuls Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten both saying they’d oppose it.
Meanwhile Liberal backbencher Dr Dennis Jensen says he supports a royal commission into climate change science.
“There are so many questions to be asked on this that it would need something like a royal commission,” he told Network Ten television.
Dr Jensen, a self-confessed climate change sceptic, said he was glad the coalition had abolished the Climate Change Commission.
Dr Jensen said it had been set up to put the “scare of God” into people when Labor introduced the carbon price legislation.
He said he supported the coalition’s Direct Action policy because “there are benefits apart from just reduction in CO2″.
“I personally would like to see some more money spent on energy research which will obviously benefit us in terms of intellectual property and scientific research capacity,” Dr Jensen said.
Meanwhile, master plans for several of Australia’s largest coal, iron ore and gas regions will be fast-tracked by the coalition government, after it was discovered Labor left 50 major gas and energy projects in limbo after changing environment laws to include a water trigger for extra assessments.
Mr Hunt said it was a “major surprise” to discover the projects had been left hanging.
“They brought in a water trigger and then made no decisions,” he told Sky News.
“So 50 major gas and energy projects are in complete limbo.”
He uncovered the projects during departmental briefings after being sworn in as minister last week.
Mr Hunt is yet to see detailed briefings on the 50 projects but said he would start this week working through making decisions on whether to refer them for further environmental assessment.