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Desperate Costa launches counter-offensive against Garnaut

Media Release: 7 July 2008

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa's misleading attack on climate change reviewer Professor Ross Garnaut's emissions trading proposal is a last-ditch attempt to rescue the Iemma government's electricity privatisation push, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Commenting on an opinion piece by the Mr Costa in today's Australian ("Garnaut Report a first step that falls short"), Dr Kaye said: "The Treasurer is working hard to undermine Professor Garnaut's argument for not compensating the electricity generators for the costs of the proposed emissions trading scheme.

"Michael Costa is threatening the nation with blackouts and economic chaos if the generators are not given at least 30 percent of their permits for free.

"The only blackout will be the Treasurer's career if the loss of power station profitability undermines his attempted privatisation.

"Professor Garnaut has nailed yet another nail in the coffin of the Iemma government's power sell-off. Investors would not want to buy power stations that have to fork out billions of dollars each year for permits.

"Mr Costa wants the people of NSW to have no faith in the ability of the national electricity market to maintain capacity to meet demand.

"The Treasurer's tirade ignores the effects of rising wholesale electricity prices on encouraging other lower carbon sources to be developed and operate.

"It is ironic to watch a leading neo-liberal economic ideologue like Michael Costa argue that markets do not work.

"In desperation, the Treasurer also argues that the power stations have property right to pollute the atmosphere.

"Australian society has never accepted the right of corporations to do harm just because they have done so in the past. As Professor Garnaut pointed out, this nation reduced the profitability of tobacco companies and asbestos mines without compensation.

"It is time for Premier Iemma to reign in his Treasurer before he does yet more damage to the government's credibility," Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

John Kaye
Greens member of the NSW Parliament
phone: (02) 9230 2668
fax: (02) 9230 2586
mobile: 0407 195 455
john.kaye[AT]parliament nsw gov au