PM expected to reveal climate policy

Prime Minister

It is understood the new policy, to be revealed by Ms Gillard in a speech in Brisbane, does not include a carbon price in keeping with the prime minister’s commitment to conduct a review in 2012.

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A major boost to solar power and geothermal energy will be at the centre of the new policy while much of $652 million set aside for the emissions trading scheme will be redirected to renewables.

There are also measures aimed at encouraging greater energy efficiency through cuts in electricity use.

The announcement will open up a new front in the election campaign as Labor tries to rebuild its climate credentials ahead of the August 21 poll.

It will challenge the coalition which has been claiming to be the only major party with a climate change policy since Labor shelved its carbon pollution reduction scheme.

The announcement will also shift the focus from the population debate and future of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, two issues which have dominated the election campaign to date, and comes as the mining industry threatens a new anti-government advertising blitz.

As Ms Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott paused on Thursday to attend the funeral of digger Nathan Bewes, killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on July 9, Mr Rudd again stole the limelight after it was revealed he had been sounded out about a United Nations job.

A spokesman for Mr Rudd said the former prime minister had been approached by UN chief Ban Ki-Moon about taking up a part-time job as a member of a panel dealing with international development issues.

But he said the former prime minister remained committed to serving a full term in his Brisbane seat of Griffith, if re-elected.

“It would not cause any impediment to him discharging his responsibilities as a local Member of Parliament or as a minister in a future Labor government,” he said.

Ms Gillard has said on a number of occasions that Mr Rudd would be offered a senior cabinet position if Labor is returned to office.

The opposition seized on the development.

“I can’t see how he could combine being a senior minister in a government, particularly in the area of foreign affairs, and hold down a part-time international job that would take him overseas and could create a potential conflict of interest,” opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said.

The confirmation of Mr Rudd’s job offer came as mining representatives, including Fortescue Metals Group boss Andrew Forrest, weighed into the election campaign with fresh calls for the government to dump the mining tax.

The threat means Ms Gillard now faces an anti-government campaign from the miners just three weeks after reaching an agreement which seemingly neutralised what was a major issue ahead of the election, and one which had so severely damaged the Rudd brand.

The new scheme taxes profits above a 12 per cent threshold at 30 per cent, instead of 40 per cent at a lower threshold, and only applies to iron ore and coal.

But junior mining representatives remain unhappy with the deal and claim it unfairly hits smaller companies.

They are also angry about being excluded from the negotiations with the big mining groups that lead to the super profits tax being dumped in favour of the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), which represents small- to mid-tier miners, has threatened to revive its anti-government campaign within days.

Mr Forrest, who did not contribute to the first ad blitz against the super profits tax, said he was now prepared to personally help bankroll a new campaign against the MRRT.

“The rest of the Australian mining industry, which is working to deliver the major job growth opportunities for all Australians, has not had a word of consultation but is being asked to believe that everything will be dealt with after the election,” he said.

“Frankly, that is just not good enough.”