COAG concludes with little action
The usual veneer of agreement was missing after Friday’s COAG meetings.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meetings ended with division over a new competition agreement, and saw leaders take open swipes at the Turnbull Government.
At the news conference after the talks, Mr Turnbull reiterated his opposition any sort of national emissions intensity scheme (EIS) for the electricity sector.
He says he will keep his position even if inquiries in coming months support an EIS.
South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill said Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel had backed an EIS as the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions.
An EIS would impose an emissions intensity baseline for electricity generation, forcing power stations that operate above the set level to buy credits off those operating below it.
The Federal Government appeared to support talking about such a measure last week, before rushing to oppose it.
The Business Council of Australia wants all options for a lower-emissions future to stay on the table.
“The categorical ruling out of mechanisms to achieve this transition, or imposing arbitrary moratoriums on lower-emissions fuels such as onshore gas limits Australia’s options,” it said in a statement after COAG.
“Without all the policy options on the table, Australia risks relying on expensive subsidies to renewable energy or blunt regulatory instruments which would increase costs for industry and their customers.”
Meanwhile, the premiers of Victoria, South Australia and Queensland (all Labor governments) refused to sign an agreement on reforms to enhance competition and productivity.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said similar agreements in the past had not been honoured, and there was no money attached to motivate signing the latest one.
The leaders did manage some progress on the long-running issue of reclassifying the Adler lever action shotgun.
Shotguns with a magazine capacity of up to five rounds will be moved to the tougher category B, while any with greater than five rounds capacity will be put in the most restrictive category D.
This means they will only be available to professional shooters, and the federal government can lift its import ban on the weapon.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, who led the push to allow more access to higher-capacity shotguns, said in a statement: “There are now 800,000 firearms owners in this country who feel they have been placed in the ‘deplorables’ basket. They won’t be voting for the major parties at the next election.”