The government is facing an unprecedented environmental backlash, with the backing of the most powerful industry lobby group in the country.
The Coalition is trying to rewrite the rules governing Australia’s environment in a way that will allow it to pursue its climate change agenda while remaining economically viable.
The latest proposal by the government to re-write Australia’s environmental laws comes as the Coalition is seeking to gain support for its plan to abolish the carbon price.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt says the government will seek to make it easier to build new coal-fired power stations by using a “pipeline” of projects, including some that could potentially create jobs.
But a report released by the Greens, the Greens-aligned Opposition, on Tuesday suggests that the Coalition could end up scrapping the carbon tax altogether.
Greens MP Adam Bandt, who has been pushing for a carbon price since 2016, said the plan could put Australia’s economy at risk.
“If the carbon pricing does come into force, we will have an enormous impact on the economy and our ability to export jobs,” Mr Bandt said.
“There is no question that this will be a disaster for the country and for our economy.”
The Greens-affiliated group says that in the long term, the carbon-pricing plan could cost jobs and the economy $200 billion.
“It is not just a matter of ‘we’re going to get rid of the carbon subsidy, but also how we do it’,” Mr Bandts told 7.30.
“What we are doing is creating a pipeline to extract more carbon.”
He said there was also a potential for new fossil fuel projects to be built in Queensland and NSW without a carbon tax.
“We are talking about coal-based power stations, and gas-fired plants,” Mr Hunt said.
In the past, Mr Hunt has been criticised for being too soft on carbon emissions.
He has previously been accused of “blaming the climate change crisis on people not buying into the science”.
The carbon tax has been used to support the Australian economy.
Last year, it helped the country shed more than 400,000 jobs.
In January, the Government announced it would end the carbon market by 2020, which was the biggest cut in the coal industry since 2001.