ETS critics point to Australia for solution

Published in the National Busines Review of 15 August 2008

Critics and commentators in the debate over Labour's emissions trading scheme are drawing a contrast between the way the New Zealand and Australian governments have handled the issue.

The Australian government under Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is said to have a more pro-active approach to sharing information with the public and to have done more effective work on the impact of an emission trading scheme on its economy.

Catherine Beard of the business lobby group, the Greenhouse Policy ETS Coalition, said Australian Ministers had been frank about the climate change policy being the biggest shift in economic policy since the dismantling of tariffs.

"And they've been upfront that there will be pain."

Kensington Swan's energy partner Bryan Gundersen said there was value in looking at how the Australians had handled the greenhouse gas issue.

"Australia will protect its exposed business sectors and lower income households. A lot more work has gone on about these and other issues than has been apparent from the New Zealand government to date," Mr Gundersen said.

Ms Beard said in New Zealand the story has struggled to get out of the business pages.

"The general tenor has been that $25 a tonne for carbon equals 4 cents a litre on petrol, so why wouldn't you do that to save the planet. There's a lot more to it than that as we have been pointing out, but the public doesn't know or understand what it all means."