Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has conceded he needs Liberal Party support to achieve Labor’s ambitious renewable energy target.
Days after revealing Labor would aim for 50 per cent renewables by 2030, Mr Shorten acknowledged boosting large-scale clean energy – such as wind and solar farms – required bipartisanship.
Labor’s pledge is separate but linked to the legislated renewable energy target, which was recently slashed from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000 after months of political stalemate.
Both parties believe bipartisanship must underpin the RET for investment to flow.
Mr Shorten’s comments open a loophole for Labor to blame its inability to achieve 50 per cent renewables on the coalition.
“(For our) goal of 50 per cent renewable energy, we need a Liberal Party equally committed to the future,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
He believes that backing will be achieved once Prime Minister Tony Abbott is ousted from the top job and the party becomes “far less extreme right-wing”.
“Sooner or later, the once great Liberal Party of Menzies and Malcolm Fraser and indeed others who believe in action on climate, will restore,” he said.
The ALP national conference at the weekend endorsed Mr Shorten’s renewables goal and his plan to take an emissions trading scheme to the next election.
The climate debate once again descended to semantics on Monday, after Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon admitted on Sunday he didn’t care the policy was labelled an ETS or a tax.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh corrected his Labor colleague on Monday, maintaining it was not right to call an ETS a tax.
“This is a scheme which has international linkage, puts a cap on pollution and the price of that cap floats,” he told Sky News.
But the coalition was quick to grab onto the admission, with Treasurer Joe Hockey saying Mr Fitzgibbon had “belled the cat” on Labor’s proposal.
The prime minister found some new rhetoric on Monday, calling Labor’s policy an “electricity tax scam” while saying the renewable target could cost up to $60 billion.
“(It) will be scamming the consumers of Australia for years and years and decades if it was to be put in place,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who supported an ETS as leader of the Liberal Party, isn’t so concerned with the label, insisting either way it will be an added cost.
But you can’t reduce carbon emissions without a cost, he said.
The Australian Wind Alliance is calling on Mr Abbott to halt his scare campaign, lamenting his “extraordinary and untrue” claim a 50 per cent renewables goal could cost $60 billion.
The Australian Greens say Mr Abbott is again trying to convince the public climate change isn’t real through a scare campaign over electricity bills.
“There seems to be no lows to which our prime minister won’t stoop when it comes to fear campaigns,” Greens senator Larissa Waters told reporters in Brisbane.