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Coalition should stand up for farmers

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THE HON GREG COMBET AM MP Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Cabinet Secretary


GC 159/11 7 June 2011


The Gillard Government today called on the Opposition to stop political game-playing which could delay farmers and rural communities from securing significant benefits under the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative legislation is to be debated in Parliament next week.

The legislation will establish a carbon offsets scheme to provide new economic rewards to farmers and other landholders who help the environment by reducing carbon pollution.

Actions which store carbon - such as tree planting or changes to soil management practices - would generate credits which could be sold to companies wanting to offset their own carbon pollution. Credits will also be created by actions to reduce agricultural emissions, such as reduced methane emissions from feedlots and reduced nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser use.

But following a split between the Liberal Party and the Nationals, the Opposition is attempting to delay the legislation indefinitely.

The Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt has enthusiastically supported the Carbon Farming Initiative in the past.

But when the Nationals cracked the whip last week, Mr Hunt did an about-face and said he would move to have the legislation deferred.

“This is a capitulation by the Liberal Party to the ill-informed and wrong-headed stance of the Nationals on the Carbon Farming Initiative,” the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet said.

“The Opposition would rather play petty politics than support legislation giving farmers and landholders access to carbon markets worth millions of dollars a year for regional and rural Australia.”

The Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, said the Nationals had not done their homework.

“Nationals leader Warren Truss showed how out of touch he was when he claimed incorrectly in Parliament that the Carbon Farming Initiative was ‘just another subsidised tree planting scheme - an MIS [managed investment scheme] on steroids’,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“The Government has already said that managed investment scheme forestry activities will be ineligible for benefits under the Carbon Farming Initiative to ensure the market for agricultural land is not distorted.”

Mr Combet said it was not too late for the Coalition to do the right thing by farmers and vote for the legislation when debate resumed in Parliament next week.

Media contact: Mark Davis (Mr Combet) 0400 295 560 Fiona Webber (Mr Dreyfus) 0478 170 650