After the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’s defeat in Senate last August, the Australian Opposition, the Coalition (Liberals + Nationals), had until last Sunday to propose amendments before the reintroduction of the bill in November (for previous developments, see here). After a Party meeting lasting more than four hours yesterday, Mr. Turnbull, the Opposition leader, confirmed the partyroom had endorsed his strategy, backing “commonsense amendments” which, if agreed to, “would save thousands of Australian jobs”(The Australian 19/10/09).

Most provisions intend to provide greater exemptions to key industries. Amendments include exemptions for the coal industry, greater assistance to power generators, a permanent exemption for agriculture, greater exemptions for energy intensive industries, and protection for food processing. The detailed list is available on the Liberals’ website. The Coalition won early support for its position last night, with the Minerals Council of Australia backing its amendments. “The proposed amendments will better align the CPRS with other emissions trading schemes around the world, promote investment in low-emissions technologies and provide the necessary flexibility to adjust to the outcome of the United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen in December,” chief executive officer Mitchell Hooke said. (SMH 20/10/09)

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, set a six-week timetable for negotiation and debate before a vote in November. The bill will be introduced to the House of Representatives this week, and should reach the Senate by mid-November. The government will push very hard for the passage of the bill by Copenhagen and may extend Senate sittings if necessary (SMH 18/10/09). However, the Nationals and some key Liberals strongly oppose the ETS, and threaten to cross the floor if Mr. Turnbull strikes a deal with the government. The legislation might still pass under this scenario, but Mr. Turnbull will face the embarrassment of a Coalition split on the issue just weeks after declaring he would stake his leadership on success.

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