Australia: New Government Takes Axe To Climate Schemes
Public servants are drawing up plans to collapse 33 climate change schemes run by seven departments and eight agencies into just three bodies run by two departments under a substantial rewrite of the administration of carbon abatement schemes under the Coalition.
Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt briefed public servants on the dramatic restructure of the federal climate change bureaucracy before the election was called and yesterday confirmed the Coalition was committed to proceeding with the plan.
Under the simplification, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Resources and Energy will run all of the climate change programs under the Coalition’s direct-action program.
The move is forecast to save the government tens of millions of dollars. The Coalition budgeted for savings of $7 million this financial year rising to $13m in each of the next three years for a saving of $45m across the budget period.
The changes will see all carbon abatement schemes run by three bodies: the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which will be overseen by the Department of Resources and Energy; and the Clean Energy Regulator and Low Carbon Australia, which will be run by the Department of the Environment.
The Climate Change Authority, which sets emissions caps, the Climate Commission, which has conducted research into climate change, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which funds renewable technologies, are all slated to be abolished under the plans.
Treasury has responsibility for Low Carbon Australia and the CEFC, while the Industry Department has control over a range of clean technology programs. The Department of Agriculture runs a series of carbon farming programs, while the Department of Families runs household assistance packages, home energy savings programs and the remote indigenous energy program.
Under the Coalition, Low Carbon Australia will be responsible for purchasing emissions reductions under the Coalition’s direct action program.
“What we’ve said is we will commence the merger as soon as the process of appointing the ministry and swearing in the ministry has been complete,” Mr Hunt told the 2GB radio station in Sydney yesterday. “To be frank, during the course of the pre-election period, when we were allowed to consult with departments, we laid out the fact that there would be a merger. “We were express and clear and absolute about that, and we indicated we would like it to begin right from the outset. I imagine that the public servants are preparing to do that. Our agenda was clear and open and that is an official process we’ll go through as soon as possible.”
The moves came as Tony Abbott continued briefings with senior public servants, including the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Ian Watt, as he continued his transition-to-government plans.
The CEFC confirmed yesterday it had stopped making loans for energy efficiency and clean energy programs. Staff at the $10 billion green bank are seeking a meeting with the incoming Abbott government as a top priority.