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HG Alert: Moving Forward: The new government’s effect on Australian climate change policy - 10 Sep 2010

Labor, the independents and the Greens have come together to form a new government. This change in government will inevitably mean movement on climate change policy in Australia.

A key feature of the "Kevin 07" campaign was the promise of climate change legislation and a "price on carbon". Despite several attempts to pass legislation in both houses of parliament, the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was shelved until 2013.

During the recent Federal election campaign, both major parties seemed to avoid the topic of climate change, instead focusing on issues such as broadband, immigration policy, health, education and big ticket infrastructure projects in marginal electorates. With neither party promoting their climate change policy, the issue was left for the Greens to focus on.

The independents - Windsor, Oakshott, Wilke and Brandt (with Katter a potential to swing either way) - have all publicly discussed their views on climate change. In 2008, Tony Windsor sponsored the Climate Protection Bill in parliament, after criticising the coal industry and calling for 30 percent cuts by 2010. Rob Oakshott has said that climate change is a priority issue for him, while Andrew Wilke was formerly a Greens candidate in New South Wales, and again has shown strong support for policy addressing climate change.

Further, on 1 July 2011, the Senate will change and in effect become controlled by the Greens.

It would seem, based on the current make up of parliament, that some form of Climate Change policy will be up for debate before long.

As an illustration, this week saw the announcement of the formation of a Climate Change Committee, which will replace the strongly-criticised proposal for a Citizens Assembly. The Climate Change Committee will include experts, members from both sides of parliament, the Greens and independents. Members must be committed to climate change and acknowledge that a carbon price is necessary to reduce carbon pollution by 2020.

It remains to be seen how the Gillard Government will balance competing pressure from the independents, the Greens and the energy industry in responding to the climate change debate, which is now very much in focus.

For more information on climate change legislation, please contact HopgoodGanim's Climate Change practice.