The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has welcomed the changes announced on Monday by Kevin Rudd to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
“For some time Ai Group has argued for a delay in the start date; an initial period of modest impact that gives business time to adjust; and improvements in the arrangements for trade exposed businesses through both the allocation of permits and the Climate Change Action Fund,” Ai Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout said.
“Robust measures to ensure the competitiveness of trade exposed industries are critical while costs of greenhouse gas emissions imposed on domestic industries are not also imposed on businesses in the countries with which we compete.
“The measures announced represent substantial steps in each of these directions and demonstrate the Government’s recognition of the need to address businesses’ concerns over the impact on competitiveness and the difficulties of implementation.
“Accordingly, Ai Group calls on all sides of politics to come together and work towards a CPRS that is in Australia’s national interest.
“Ai Group will continue to work with all political parties and independents to address outstanding areas of concern to members and to maintain the competitiveness of our economy.
“Ai Group regards the changes to the Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) as particularly important.
“The new Early Action Energy Efficiency Strategies for Business program is an important addition to the CCAF arsenal and will add to its ability to provide constructive support to the many trade exposed businesses that will not qualify for allocated permits under the Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed program.
“These businesses include many small and medium-sized businesses in the metals processing sector; in plastics and chemicals; and in the food processing industry for example.
“Ai Group also recognises the potentially important role in negotiations over a global climate change agreement of the decision to extend the 2020 gateway to include the possibility of Australia moving to a reduction in emissions to 25% below 2000 levels by 2020.
“This change in Australia’s international bargaining position does contain additional risks for Australian industry, employees and regions. It is therefore appropriate that the Government has agreed that very strong conditions must be satisfied in an effective and genuinely global agreement before Australia would contemplate these very steep reductions.
“Ai Group supports the passage of the CPRS legislation this year including the elements of the package announced today. Ai Group has consistently called for the legislation to be passed this year. This is critical to establish the degree of certainty business requires in assessing medium and longer-term investment decisions. It is particularly important in the current context because of the central role that business investment needs to play in recovery from the recession,” Ridout said.