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Warning: get ready to pay for carbon

| Sourced From SMH |

AUSTRALIANS have paid a ”high price” for the emissions trading scheme delay and the Gillard government should establish a carbon market as soon as possible, according to blunt advice from the federal Treasury in the normally top-secret ”red book” prepared for an incoming Labor administration.

The ”red book”, which landed on Wayne Swan’s desk the morning after the election, also warns the $43 billion national broadband network carries ”significant financial risks”, that the strong economy could fuel inflation and the rapidly rising population projections both parties disavowed during the election campaign were largely unavoidable.

Released following freedom-of-information requests, the advice will add to growing business pressure for Labor to legislate some form of carbon price during this Parliament and comes after the BHP chief executive, Marius Kloppers, called for Australia to move quickly on the matter.

Julia Gillard went to the polls promising a ”citizens’ assembly” to build public support before deciding whether she would proceed with Labor’s shelved ETS.

But Treasury told the Prime Minister that ”the sooner an ETS can be implemented the better. Too much time has already been wasted – for which the Australian community will necessarily pay a high price.”

Last night the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, also released the ”blue book” Treasury prepared for an incoming Coalition government. This said that even Australia’s minimum emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020, supported by both main parties, ”cannot be achieved without a carbon price unless damaging economic and budget impacts are to be imposed”.

Treasury tells the Coalition that its ”direct action” climate policy would be more expensive than a ”market-based mechanism”.

During the campaign both parties emphasised the need for a ”sustainable” population, but Treasury says strong population growth will continue for at least the next 15 years.

Even if internal migration slowed to 60,000 a year for the next four decades, well under the 100,000 average for the past 40 years, the population in 2050 would still hit 29 million.

”Net immigration figures well in excess of that low number are probably inescapable,” Treasury says, adding that strong population growth ”is not necessarily unsustainable

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