Greens bank on Labor win but hope to exploit Senate shortfall

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Greens bank on Labor win but hope to exploit Senate shortfall

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Posted

April 17, 2019 03:34:28

The Greens are putting Bill Shorten on notice that if he wins the federal election, they’ll be there to drag Labor to the left.

Key points:

  • Senator Hanson-Young said her party would hold Labor to climate action promises if they are elected to government
  • The Greens have proposed a plan to help save threatened species, costed at $2 billion a year
  • But experts have questioned the party’s plan to use a carbon price to pay for its policies

The Greens are launching the final significant plank in their election environment and climate change policy today.

It details the various ways they would like money raised by a proposed carbon tax to be spent.

The wish list is extensive and includes a $2 billion-a-year plan to save Australia’s threatened native species from extinction.

“We’re going to push for the environment to have proper protection to restore our natural world and to make sure those gorgeous creatures — whether they are the whales in the Great Australian Bight or koalas in New South Wales or sea lions currently being assessed as endangered — that those animals are given some priority in terms of protection,” Greens environment spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said.

It also features more investment in Indigenous rangers, money to combat invasive species, cleaning up Australia’s rivers and oceans, and 10,000 new environmental manager jobs across the country to help with habitat restoration and conservation.

The plans aim to build on policies the Greens have already announced, like the move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and an overhaul of Howard-era environment laws.

“It’s all very well and good to say we want to protect the environment,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“We need to ensure there’s laws in place that make that happen.

“And then we need to have the funding there to actually do it.

“There’s no point just paying lip service.”

Greens strategists believe Bill Shorten’s team is on track to win a majority in the Lower House, but that Labor still won’t be able to control the Senate.

The party is planning to exploit that, with Wednesday’s announcement laying down markers for any future negotiations with a potential Shorten government.

“If Labor were to win on May 18, the Greens are putting up very clearly that climate action and protecting our environment are going to be key priorities,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The voters want this, and we’re going to be pushing for it.”

This is the sort of thing the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has been warning about.

On Tuesday, he told voters at a town hall meeting that if elected, Labor would “take their cues” from the Greens.

Macquarie University politics lecturer Jonathan Symons said the Greens’ plans were clearly ambitious.

“Their goal to de-carbonise the economy in many areas by 2030 is important and they have a bunch of specific schemes — such as increased funding for Indigenous rangers, increased protection for marine conservation areas, for protected forests et cetera — that people who are concerned for biodiversity conservation will be very enthusiastic about,” Dr Symons said.

“It’s a document with enormous ambition.

“If you were to critique it, it would be about its feasibility.”

One of his concerns was that the Greens wanted the policies announced on Wednesday to be paid for by a carbon price.

“The whole thing hangs on the reintroduction of a carbon price [but] there’s very little detail about that carbon price,” he said.

And energy expert Tony Wood, from the Grattan Institute, said a carbon price was not a realistic option right now.

He said the Green’s refusal to accept Kevin Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme because it didn’t go far enough had resulted in a disastrous policy impact in the years that followed.

“As a result of all of that we suffered from not having any effective climate change policy ever since and I think it would be a tragedy for all Australians and for our environment if that was to happen again,” he said.

“The prospect that between them — the Greens and the Coalition if they are in Opposition — could basically thwart the capacity of a Labor government to put in place what might actually be a climate policy that would almost, if not quite, end the climate wars… that would be a serious setback.”

But he said it was still early days in the election campaign and it was natural that no one was thinking about having to compromise just yet.

So he’s holding out hope that cooler heads will prevail after polling day.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

politics-and-government,

greens,

political-parties,

environmental-policy,

australia

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