UNCERTAIN: Prime Minister Scott Morrison   with member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd met workers at Boyne Smelters Limited during his visit to Gladstone  in   2018.
UNCERTAIN: Prime Minister Scott Morrison with member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd met workers at Boyne Smelters Limited during his visit to Gladstone in 2018. Matt Taylor GLA071118MORR

CLIMATE POLICY: Uncertainty over impact on key industries

AS the climate policy debate heats up, some within the aluminium industry have concerns about the lack of information surrounding Labor's action plan.

Despite promises for safeguards for the aluminium industry in Labor's emissions reduction plans, an industry group worries it still does not know the full extent of the impact the changes could have on the aluminium sector.

Labor released its Climate Change policy earlier this month which identified ways it would reach its 45 per cent emissions reduction target on 2005 levels, without endangering businesses.

It said $300 million would be used to establish the Strategic Industries Taskforce to help industries, including steel and aluminium, cut pollution while remaining internationally competitive.

The plan would offer industry-specific solutions to reduce pollution, under its expanded form of the Safeguard Mechanism.

But what this would mean for the aluminium sector and individual businesses remains unclear, Australian Aluminium Council executive director Miles Prosser said.

"In addition to the more ambitious targets, Labor has indicated an intent to maintain the competitiveness of key industries such as aluminium,” Mr Prosser said.

"At this stage, there is insufficient detail to determine the precise impact of the policy.

"We would imagine a future Labor Government would consult closely with the aluminium industry in developing the detail of the policy to ensure it meets its objectives.”

In a bid to cut pollution Labor would allow high-polluting businesses to cut or offset emissions by buying or selling international carbon credits.

Last week there were estimates the policy could cost businesses up to $25 billion in international credits over the next decade to offset their carbon emissions.

But Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the figure was a "lie” and was based on high-cost estimates of credits on European markets rather than others much cheaper.

Concerns were first raised about the potential impact the changes could have on Boyne Smelter Limited when Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the smelter in November.

During his recent visit Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack doubled down on Mr Morrison's comments the smelter would "shut down” under Labor's climate action plan.

Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers defended the policy and labelled the LNP's comments as a "desperate scare campaign”.

"Labor will be working with industry right through this process to protect output and protect jobs,” he said.

"Every industry is different and will have different needs - that's why we'll work side-by-side to make sure our policy protects jobs.

"Businesses like BSL know that we'll be working with them to make sure their future is secured.”

The Observer approached Boyne Smelter Limited for comment, but was referred to a statement made by general manager Joe Rea on the topic in January.

"In our discussions on climate policy at the federal level, we expect that all parties will properly consider how to manage the treatment of emissions-intensive, trade exposed industries when aiming to reduce Australia's national emissions,” Mr Rea said.

"We will continue to work with all parties to ensure BSL has a vibrant, long-term future.”

Mr McCormack insisted Australia was doing "the right thing by the environment” and the government was on track to reach all targets, even though official figures recently showed emissions up by 0.9 per cent over the past year.