The Government has already offered the coal export industry a $750 million compensation package over five years, after refusing its demand to be part of the free permits scheme for big greenhouse emitters.
The executive director of the Coal Association, Ralph Hillman, says the offer on the table is inadequate.
“The industry’s made it very clear that that does not meet the competitiveness problems posed for the industry by the CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme),” Mr Hillman said.
The Coal Association has warned 10,000 jobs will go and 16 mines will be forced to close over the first decade of carbon trading, and has not accepted the Government’s offer.
Now AM understands the Government has left the door open to offer the industry more compensation instead of the free permits coal producers argue they are entitled to.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong’s office is saying little, except that the $750 million assistance on the table is “substantial” and “appropriate”, and the Government is talking to industry about how best to target that money to the “gassiest” or highest-emitting coal mines.
Mr Hillman and senior industry representatives will discuss coal’s treatment under the carbon scheme with Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet tomorrow.
Mr Hillman says nothing extra has been offered at this stage, but another $500 million would not be enough.
“We estimate the industry’s going to have to buy $13.5 billion worth of permits in the first 10 years of the scheme. Now you can see that the $750 million on the table is worth about 4 per cent of that; whereas the LNG industry for example is getting 66 per cent,” Mr Hillman said.
“You can see the inequity and the unfairness of the treatment of these two industries, or coal versus other trade exposed emissions intensive industries.
“So even if you were to double the $750 million, it would bring the assistance level from 4 per cent to say 8 per cent. Still not serious, not significant.”
Debate on the scheme began in Parliament last night and is expected to continue well into this evening before a vote is taken on the legislation tomorrow.
But it will almost certainly be defeated when a vote is taken in the Senate in coming weeks.
The Greens regard the current blueprint as a “dud” and are poised to vote it down.
As the Senate debate and vote approach, the Penny Wong is meeting the Greens today in a bid to find common ground.
Greens leader Bob Brown warns any more assistance to the coal industry would be unacceptable.
“It would be very strange for the Government to be approaching the Greens when there’s such a gap between their inaction and the appropriate action we want to see on climate change,” Senator Brown said.
“With a story about that at the same time they’re going with a big cheque to the coal industry, which is unwarranted, unnecessary and should be going to renewable energy – the green economy.”