The Australian Labor Party has pledged to reduce Australia’s emissions, generate jobs, and cut power bills if it wins power at the next election.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Friday unveiled the long-awaited emission policy, which he said will help to cut emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and keep Australia “on track for net-zero by 2050.”
Albanese promised the policy, dubbed Powering Australia, will create 604,000 jobs, with five out of six of them to be created in the regional area and cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year for homes by 2025, compared to today.
“Every major economy in the world is moving toward renewables, and if we do not seize this moment to invest in a homegrown renewables sector, Australia will be left out and left behind,” he said.
“The Morrison government is unable and unwilling to rise to this challenge. Labor will, and as we do, we will create jobs, economic opportunities across regional Australia and cheap power.
“What we didn’t do was adopt a target and then work back.”
The opposition leader also said his plan would spur $76 billion of investment, pour $3 billion in clean energy, make electric vehicles cheaper and install 400 community batteries across the country.
While Labor has agreed to gradually strengthen obligations on polluters through a tightening of the government’s existing safeguard mechanism, the coalition labelled the move as a carbon tax by stealth.
Speaking ahead of the Labor policy launch, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Albanese’s emission target would force up electricity prices and put people out of jobs.
“I don’t agree that that’s the right policy for Australia. I don’t think that policy does get the balance right,” he said.
“Getting to net zero by 2050 means you invest in the technologies that get you there by 2050. You don’t do it by forcing people’s electricity prices up or forcing people out of jobs.”
The coalition government is projecting a cut of between 30 and 35 percent has a 2030 target of a 26-to-28 percent emissions cut on 2005 levels, which Morrison believed to be “balanced” and “does get that right.”
“Labor’s learnt nothing since the last election. That’s what today’s announcement shows,” he said. “When Opposition’s don’t learn in Opposition, that doesn’t mean they’re safe, they’re just as dangerous as they’ve always been.”
The argument was echoed by Energy Minister Angus Taylor, who said Albanese previously claimed that a 45 percent target was a “mistake”.
“He’s now saying that 43 percent is OK,” he noted. “There’s nothing safe about a target that will drive up electricity prices. There is nothing safe about a policy without clear plans that will ensure those crucial industries in Australia – agriculture, mining, manufacturing – continue to be sustained for many years to come.”
Meanwhile, Greens leader Adam Bandt said he was “bitterly disappointed in Labor’s capitulation to Morrison,” claiming Australia’s climate target should be a 75 percent cut to emissions by 2030.
“These targets take us past the point of no return. The Liberals are taking us over the cliff at 200 km/h while Labor’s promising to do it at 180 km/h,” Bandt said.
Polling from progressive think tank the Australia Institute shows about a quarter of 1010 people surveyed saw climate change as the most important political issue, roughly on par with the economy.
Climate change rated the most important issue for 30 per cent of Labor voters, while 37 per cent of coalition voters saw the economy as paramount.
The Business Council of Australia in October backed an emission cut of between 46 and 50 per cent by 2030.