Cabinet meets to talk climate

Voters may have to wait a little longer to find out about the Gillard government’s new plan on climate change.

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Cabinet met this afternoon to work on its pre-election climate policy, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard has hinted she’s not in a hurry.

“The government is working its way through these issues,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Parliament House before the cabinet meeting. “And we will do so methodically, taking the time necessary to get it right.”

Ms Gillard is to give her first speech as prime minister to the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday, but her office says the speech will not be about climate change.

There is speculation Ms Gillard will call the election in the next fortnight, possibly by Saturday, for a late August poll. It’s not clear if she intends to release her climate policy before calling the election.

With Labor shelving its ETS until at least 2013, cabinet was expected to continue new measures to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Restrictions on new coal-fired power stations and moves to encourage the protection and planting of forests are also believed to have been considered.

Ms Gillard reiterated her message that it will take time to introduce a carbon price, acknowledging some were disappointed at the delay

“I understand there are millions of Australians disappointed that we have not yet been able to put a price on carbon. I am disappointed by that too,” she said.

The opposition warned that Labor’s new climate policy would push up electricity prices. Opposition leader Tony Abbott said his climate plan, which sends money from the budget directly to programs to cut emissions, would not put impositions on consumers or producers.

Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said Labor was “all about increasing electricity pricing, not about decreasing emissions”.

Don Henry, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, called on Ms Gillard to release her climate policy soon.

“Australians are hoping for leadership on climate change and they’ll be very frustrated if the government and the opposition are just sitting on their hands,” Mr Henry told AAP.

The Climate Institute’s John Connor said the government needed to make public a “detailed plan on pollution and climate change”. AAP ca/sb 13-07-10 1825