News Election 2019 Costing climate change policy ‘impossible’: Labor
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Costing climate change policy ‘impossible’: Labor

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Labor has conceded it is “impossible” to cost its climate change polices because there is no direct carbon tax or price on business. 

After weeks of sustained pressure about the impact of the cost of its plans to deal with climate change – including Bill Shorten’s celebrated clash with a television reporter who demanded he “answer the question” – the ALP now says there is simply no answer. 

Its admission follows wild estimates by critics of the impact of Labor’s policy, which have varied from $25 billion to $60 billion.

Opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler noted again on Tuesday that Labor was using the Coalition’s own policy mechanism, albeit with tougher targets.

“The Parliamentary Budget Office would not model the safeguards mechanism for us, any more than it’s modelled the safeguards mechanism for Malcolm Turnbull – who introduced the mechanism – or for Scott Morrison, for whom it is continuing as part of its policy mix,” Mr Butler said.

“If I can go to the cost impact of the policy we have announced, it is impossible to cost this, because a Labor government, led by Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek, would not be imposing a direct carbon price on businesses.

“It certainly would not be imposing a carbon tax any more than Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison have, because what we have decided to do, after talking exhaustively with business groups over the last 12 or 18 months, is simply adopt the safeguards mechanism that was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull.”

Mr Butler said Labor was doing exactly what business had asked it to do, which was provide certainty and use the existing mechanism as the basis for its own scheme.

“All that mechanism does is set a limit on carbon pollution,” he said.

Mr Butler said businesses that stuck to their limit would have to report on it, but would suffer no price impact.

“If they are not able to stick to their limit, in the same way they are not under the safeguards mechanism as it operates now, they will have the broadest range of possible offsets,” he said.

But how business deals with that is going to be a matter for them. It won’t be dictated by Canberra, so it can’t be costed by Canberra.”

The issue flared in Perth on Monday during the first leaders’ debate

“We can’t keep ducking the issue, and we’re going to take on the Government’s scare campaigns because if we don’t we’re selling out the future,” Mr Shorten said.

The Prime Minister insisted the Liberal Party was not disputing the science of climate change.

“Australians should know what that’s going to cost,” Mr Morrison said