Liberals’ plan to dismantle carbon laws BY:GRAHAM LLOYD, ENVIRONMENT EDITOR The Australian May 18, 2013 TONY Abbott would prepare for a double-dissolution election within five months of taking office if parliament blocked the repeal of the carbon tax, under a 12-month action blueprint to transform the nation’s environmental laws….( subscribers only) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/liberals-plan-to-dismantle-carbon-laws/story-fn59niix-1226645695162
It’s the only revenue-raising move in this year’s savings-based Budget. Mineral production was forecast to be worth $2.7 billion in 2013-14 but mining royalties are expected to raise $113.3 million, for a recovery rate of 4.2 per cent.
The first new Budget measure is a cap on the amount mining companies can claim as a transfer price for a mineral set at 5.5 per cent of its value……
The second measure would put a cap on the amount corporations can claim on tax for administrative costs for a foreign head office. Mr Tollner said they had been claiming expenses as NT costs……. http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2013/05/15/320899_nt-business.html
Coalition dances around renewables commitment – again REneweconomy, Giles Parkinson 18 May 13, Joe Hockey refuses to endorse support for renewable energy, saying he had only just received the Budget Papers. Meanwhile, Coalition politicians are said to have signed up to speak at an anti-wind rally outside Parliament House. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/coalition-dances-around-renewables-commitment-again-84662
Fact check: will scrapping the carbon price lower electricity prices? Fact check: will scrapping the carbon price lower electricity prices? The Conversation, Dylan McConnell, 18 May 13, Tony Abbott has said he will scrap the carbon “tax”, leading to a fall in electricity prices.
In his budget reply speech he stated: We will abolish the carbon tax – because that’s the quickest way to reduce power prices and take the pressure off cost of living and job security.
But will removing the carbon price really lower electricity prices, and if so, by how much?…….
wholesale costs only account for around 37% of retail electricity prices. Other major components of retail prices are transmission costs,
distribution costs (“poles and wires”), and retail costs (which include costs like the Renewable Energy Target).
Over the same period transmission costs went up 27%, distribution by 11% and retail costs by 17%. These components are independent of the carbon price, and account for the majority of hikes in retail electricity prices.
It’s worth remembering too that even without the carbon price, electricity prices are predicted to rise. Climate Change Authority
research suggests that without the carbon price, the rise would with be slightly smaller, with retail electricity prices just 6% lower. .http://theconversation.com/fact-check-will-scrapping-the-carbon-price-lower-electricity-prices-14408
Clean energy head disputes Abbott’s ‘green savings’ BY:LAUREN WILSON, The Australian May 18, 2013 A ROW has erupted over whether the Coalition could save money by axing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with the head of the green bank disputing Tony Abbott’s claims that about $400 million a year could be banked by abolishing the fund.
The opposition committed the Coalition, if elected in September, to scrapping the $10 billion CEFC, which provides commercial and concessional loans for companies investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs…..subscribers only http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/bank-head-disputes-abbotts-green-savings/story-e6frg9df-1226645636342
Government’s “consultation” on mining in Woomera more like a ram raid Australian Greens nuclear policy spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam. 17 May 2013. The Federal Government made a mockery of public consultation by allowing three working days for initial submissions on opening up the Woomera Prohibited Area to miners, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
“On Wednesday 8 May Defence Minister Stephen Smith and resources Minister Gary Gray released the draft exposure of legislation to increase access to Woomera Prohibited Area to miners, and three working days later on 13 May the submission period closed. It’s not good enough,” said Senator Ludlam.
“Lawyers representing the Maralinga people, who in addition to being the Traditional Owners own approximately 40,000sqkm of freehold land in the area, advise that they have not been consulted on this legislation despite approaching the Defence Minister on the issue in July 2011.
“It is a relatively short amendment at nine pages but it is high-impact legislation. This area has an estimated 78 per cent of Australia’s known uranium reserves. The implications are massive.
“After years of review and the production of an 82 page report, we do not want to see a long process brought to an abrupt and shallow end.”
Still – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency survives, and solar and wind power are going to keep growing. Heaven help us if Tony Abbot gets in in September and tries to wreck renewable energy and climate change action. We may well look back on this Budget as something quite good.
The uranium lobby will be squealing, as new rules tighten, to stop the rorts on tax exempt exploration. But they keep all their other $billion perks.
Nuclear agencies continue to gobble up their $millions. The old dead, but still dirty High Flux has costly cleanups indefinitely, the live OPAL nuclear reactor continues to cost. Then there’s the radioactive waste dump planning.
And there are the Counsellors in India and China being funded – their job sounds very like marketing for Australia’s uranium industry.
The mining industry has had a royal run from the Australian government. Up until this latest Federal Budget uranium mining companies could deduct the full cost of exploration immediately, or even 150 per cent of the cost of exploration in some cases. Tax breaks on exploration and equipment cost taxpayers more than $1 billion per year.
Now – mining companies will cry poor, as the new budget contains measures to tighten the rules on exploration deductions for miners. Companies will now only be able to deduct genuine exploration spending, rather than writing off the acquisition of a company that acquired mining rights and spent money on exploration. But hey, the Government is sacking more than 100 staff from the federal environment department, staff who help assess mining proposals
But don’t let’s feel too sorry for the uranium, or indeed, any mining corporations. For example BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto pay tax on their fuel, but the government gives nearly all of it back through the Fuel Tax Credits program. Fears the diesel fuel rebates could be targeted again proved unfounded, with no direct changes to the 32 cent rebate.
As Charles Berge wrote (in Sydney Morning Herald May 11, 2010) “And then there are direct government services. Geoscience Australia’s annual budget is $130 million, much of which goes to providing free data and services to the mining industry. The CSIRO and various government research centres chip in another $130 million per year in benefits to the industry. And for the research the miners have to do themselves, they get $160 million back per year in the form of research and development tax concessions.
A billion or two for fuel, … a billion for free pollution and a couple of hundred million for subsidised science . . . pretty soon we’re talking real money.
And that’s before we’ve even begun to talk about government-provided roads, rail, ports, electricity networks and other infrastructure.
Mining is different from most other industries because it directly accesses publicly owned, non-renewable resources. It is appropriate that it pay for this privileged access, over and above its fair share of company tax. In light of the $4 billion to $5 billion in benefits the mining industry receives each year from the Australian taxpayer, the government’s proposed resource rent tax starts to look modest (and anyway, uranium mining was exempt from that tax)…..
So don’t be snowed by the big miners’ shrieks about sovereign risk driving them out of Australia. The biggest risk is that we continue to subsidise mining operations that aren’t paying a fair return for their use of public resources and taxpayer dollars.”
- Nuke Dump – $35.7m over 4 years National Radioactive Waste Management — securing a site and First Stage business case to “secure suitable volunteer site” and undertake initial scoping and design work, establish a Regional Consultative Committee and First State business case. (p253 bp2)
- Counsellor in New Delhi - $3.1m over 4 years to continue posting a Resources, Energy and Tourism Counsellor in New Delhi – is this to do with Uranium??
- ANSTO = $38.7m for decommissioning High Flux Nuclear Reactor and $8.1 m for increasing costs of running OPAL Nuclear Reactor (nuclear fuel and electricity) Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation — additional funding for decommissioning and nuclear waste management activities
ARPANSA = $ 7.8 m over four years Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency — improving Australia’s capacity to deliver effective radiation protection and nuclear safety to enhance capacity to issue new licences and undertake compliance, upgrade Yallambie and to address workplace health and safety issues. 5.1 m to be recovered through revising licencing fees and testing fees.
More detail on these nuclear-related expenses in the Budget: Read more »
Budget 2013-14 And Renewable Energy http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3739, 15 May 13, Australia’s Clean Energy Council has expressed disappointment in last night’s Budget, stating more than $600 million of funding for clean energy projects has been put in jeopardy.
While acknowledging a tough set of financial circumstances for the country and ambitious new projects such as the NDIS requiring funding, the CEC says chopping and changing clean energy program funding unsettles investors.
A deferral of $370 million in funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) over three years from 2014-15 is causing some concern as the CEC says the process for returning that funding to ARENA’s budget beyond 2020 is unclear.
$260 million of funding for energy efficiency programs and large-scale solar was also cut; the latter being $160 million of unallocated solar flagships funding which was to go to the ill-fated Solar Dawn project.
However, it wasn’t all bad news. The Clean Technology Programs did not receive rumoured cuts and $58 million of unspent funds in 2012-13 has been reallocated to 2017-18. $160 million of funding has been brought forward to 2014-15 to provide earlier access to funds for industry.
Greens leader Christine Milne was particularly scathing of the Budget. In an email with the subject line of “weaker, dumber, meaner”; Ms. Milne said the Government’s cuts to renewable energy funding constituted “back-flipping on their commitments to the Clean Energy package made with the Greens”. Ms. Milne also said “This budget is bad but Tony Abbott’s extreme agenda would go even further.”
For potential buyers of small scale rooftop solar arrays, their was neither bad or good news in the Budget – it’s business as usual.
On a somewhat related topic, carbon capture copped it in the cuts; with $662 million of uncommitted funds for the controversial Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program being returned.
A full round-up of Budget 2013-14 winners and losers (renewable energy related and otherwise) can be viewed on ABC News.
ARENA plans new mechanisms as funding cut, deferred REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 15 May 2013 Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency – the independent institution charged with giving a kick-start to emerging renewable energy technologies and supporting infrastructure – has had its overall funding cut by around 5 per cent and a further $370 million deferred to beyond 2020 as part of changes announced in the 2013 Federal Budget on Tuesday.
The cut, which effectively reduces ARENA’s total budget from $3.2 billion to just over $3 billion – comes from a decision to return $159 million of unspent money from the Education Investment Fund – a $200 million facility that was to run alongside the now defunct Solar Flagships program – to the budget.
CEO Ivor Frischknecht said he was disappointed by the budget cut – which effectively removes 10 per cent of unallocated monies, even though these particular funds were not under its direct control – but he said the “reprofiling” of the funding for other programs could actually suit ARENA’s investment objectives.
Under the changes announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan, funding for ARENA would be trimmed by $70 million in 2014/15 and by $150 million in the two subsequent years, with the money backloaded from 2020 into a program that would be extended out to 2021/22.
The move to effectively delay around 7 per cent of its unallocated funds has been criticised by clean energy supporters. The Clean Energy Council said it was disappointed the funds had been sent into the “budget ether”, just one year after ARENA had been established as an independent body to provide long-term stability to investors, and to avoid this very problem of annual budget cuts. ARENA enjoys bipartisan support, unlike the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
However, Frischknecht told RenewEconomy in an interview that the “reprofiling” of funding was a “sensible” move because it would help align the funding with the agency’s own investment plans……..
Frischknecht said ARENA was particularly pleased to get a $6.1 million increase in operational funding, which would allow the agency to expand, adding in project managers and specialist financing and transactional teams to look at new projects. “This is a big vote of confidence in our work,” he said. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/arena-plans-new-mechanisms-as-funding-cut-deferred-81277
New website to rate politicians’ facts http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/new-website-to-rate-politicians-facts-20130512-2jfyx.html#ixzz2TDuKyJyi May 12, 2013 A new political fact-checking website has launched with lofty plans to keep politicians honest and voters better informed. PolitiFact Australia says it will fact-check claims by MPs, parties, candidates and other influential figures. The website is the first international affiliate of Pulitzer prize-winning US site, PolitiFact.
It will rate political statements as true, mostly true, half true, mostly false and false. The US website calls this scale “Truth-O-Meter”. Ridiculous claims will be rated “pants on fire”. The US website says facts are checked by writers and editors “who spend considerable time researching and deliberating” the rulings. ”We always try to get the original statement in its full context rather than an edited form that appeared in news stories. We then divide the statement into individual claims that we check separately.
“When possible, we go to original sources to verify the claims. We look for original government reports rather than news stories. We interview impartial experts.” The first fact-checks have delivered “mostly false” to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s statement the coalition’s broadband plan will “cost households $5000 to get connected”. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gets the same rating for his statement that “the carbon tax is adding $400 to the cost of every car manufactured in Australia”.
The site is headed by Peter Fray, the former editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald, published by Fairfax Media, owner of this publication.Mr Fray said PolitiFact Australia is a necessary addition to Australia’s journalistic scene because politics has become ”faster and noisier” and voters are overloaded with information.
The first step in any fact-check is to ask the source for details to support the claim, before seeking independent verification. ”We are here to help sort out the facts from the fictions … we are not really out to get politicians, we don’t think they are all liars. But we do think they should be accountable for what they say,” he said.
www.politifact.com.au went live overnight on Monday.
Why Labor should fight the 2013 election on climate change, The Conversation, Matt McDonald 10 May 2013,If climate change features prominently in the federal election campaign, it will almost certainly be driven by the Coalition. Under Tony Abbott, the Coalition has long smelled blood in the water on climate change and in particular the carbon tax. Abbott has stated repeatedly that the repeal of the carbon taxwill be his first order of government business if elected, while Coalition climate spokesperson Greg Hunt has claimed that the 2013 election will be a referendum on the tax.
But this is a risky strategy, and this is precisely why the ALP can and should consider taking on the Coalition on this issue, and taking up the challenge of making the election a referendum on the carbon tax.
First, public attitudes to the carbon tax are softening. Polling has indicated a steady decline in opposition to the carbon tax since it was first mooted. By the end of 2012 opposition to the carbon tax was still at around 56% but was continuing to decline.Complaints to the ACCC about the carbon tax dropped off substantially after three months in operation. Six months in the majority of Australians polled believed that the carbon tax had made no economic difference to their lives.
There is every reason to believe these trends will continue as the tax becomes more institutionalised. Some began to draw parallels to the GST: an unpopular tax but one that was gradually absorbed into the economy and everyday practises, and which stopped short of the economic Armageddon predicted by opponents.
Second, it seems to be working.
Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation hit a 10 year low in early 2013, driven by increases in cost for wholesale electricity and an increase in the share of electricity provided through renewable sources. Both of these dynamics are attributable to the carbon tax.
If part of the reason for opposing or repealing the tax was that it didn’t work this is clearly undermined by the figures to hand so far. The carbon tax is also clearly helping Australia track towards its 20% renewable energy target, at present a bipartisan commitment. One recent industry analysis suggested that without the carbon tax and associated investment incentives in renewables, the Coalition couldn’t hope to achieve this target.
Third, industry wants it. Tony Abbott has long claimed that Australia’s economic competitiveness is being fatally undermined by the carbon tax. The trouble is, the leadership of many of Australia’s largest corporations support it….. http://theconversation.com/why-labor-should-fight-the-2013-election-on-climate-change-13865
Senator Ludlam noted that Labor Party policy is opposed to nuclear power in Australia and that South Australian energy minister, Labor’s Tom Koutsantonis said nuclear power in Australia is not commercially viable.
“In Europe, Japan and the United States nuclear power is in retreat. 150 nuclear power stations in Europe alone are scheduled for closure. The world uranium price has collapsed from almost $US140 a pound in 2007 to just over $US40 today because nuclear is on the way out.
“Australia is blessed with perfect conditions for renewable energy generation
Minister’s loyalty to the mining industry warps his vision of nuclear power http://tonyserve.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/australia-ministers-loyalty-to-the-mining-industry-warps-his-vision-of-nuclear-power-senatorludlam/ 3 May 2013. “Gary Gray’s loyalty to the mining industry has blinded him to the fact nuclear power in Australia makes no economic or environmental sense,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said after the energy minister voiced support for a local nuclear power sector.
“The energy minister’s declared optimism that nuclear power generation ‘issues’ will ‘be attended to in a timely fashion’ is unfounded. Nuclear power generation’s ‘issues’ are fundamental and inextricable: the only way to avoid them is to avoid nuclear power completely.
“While the case against nuclear power anywhere in the world is strong, the idea of a nuclear power sector in Australia is particularly ridiculous. There is no business case for it whatsoever and that will remain the case. Read more »
AUSTRALIA’S URANIUM EXPORT REVENUE IN PERSPECTIVE YELLOWCAKE FEVER Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths , Australian Conservation Foundation “……BHP Billiton enjoys extensive subsidies in the form of fuel-tax credits (formerly known as diesel fuel rebates). Under the mine expansion plan, the company would have enjoyed $350 million in diesel fuel rebates over five years – more than was to be paid to the State in royalties from the existing underground mine over the same period – and an effective subsidy of $85 million annually to 2050.
A 2012 Australia Institute report found that at a time when the mining industry is earning record profits, it received subsidies and concessions worth more than $4 billion per year from the Federal Government alone. The biggest single subsidy comes in the form
of fuel-tax credits, valued at $1.9 billion in 2009/10
Uranium mining companies – and the Australian Uranium Association – fought the proposed Resources Super Profits Tax in 2010. Ross Gittins wrote in The Age in February 2013: “Last year the mining industry accounted for more than a fifth of all the profit made in Australia, even though it had a much smaller share of the economy. This was mainly because the royalties charged by the state governments failed to capture enough of the market value of the minerals the largely foreign-owned miners were being permitted to extract.
When the Rudd government tried to correct this with a resource super profits tax, the industry set out to bring about its electoral defeat.”
Uranium was to be included in the proposed Resource Super Profit Tax, but it was subsequently excluded from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax. A 2011 report by the Australia Institute notes that the average rate of corporate tax paid by the mining industry in 2008/09 was 13.9% – substantially below the theoretical 30%…..”http://www.acfonline.org.au/sites/default/files/resources/ACF_Yellowcake_Fever.pdf