The Power Index: carbon cutters, Coalition influencers at #9
“[I] haven’t been sounded out and [am] not expecting any offers presuming a Coalition victory. Busy doing what I do now in public policy (sustainability and defence), higher education and international business. Certainly would not rate on any ‘Power Index’.”
Hill is getting increasingly interested in international governance issues, which could pull him away from carbon. But don’t take those denials as gospel — Hill may pop up as a senior adviser or agency chief under the Coalition.
There will be other winners. Sympathetic consultants will be needed to polish up Direct Action: think Danny Price from Frontier Economics and Stuart Allinson and Adrian Palmer from Exigency Management. The Coalition might like ANU economist Warwick McKibbin on board, but his carbon tax criticism may not convert into support for Direct Action.
The Institute of Public Affairs may find its star rise on agenda-setting. The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell may wield greater influence over policy.
The Business Council of Australia’s Jennifer Westacott and Maria Tarrant have the ear of senior Coalition figures. An insider suggests miners would have more influence; some strongly oppose carbon pricing, and miners’ direct emissions are growing. Will Mitch Hooke from the Minerals Council of Australia — alongside BHP, and David Peever from Rio — dominate Coalition climate policy?
MCA chairman Peter Johnston is on the Coalition’s Business Advisory Council on climate. Other council figures to watch include ex-RBA board member and climate sceptic Dick Warbuton, ex-Western Mining CEO Hugh Morgan and ex-Transfield CEO John White.
Electricity generators like Origin’s Grant King and AGL’s Michael Fraser are likely to be powerful.
While Abbott wants to close the CEFC, could there be a new role for CEO Oliver Yates? The ex-Macquarie banker unsuccessfully sought Liberal preselection for federal NSW seats in 2009. When asked about Abbott closing the CEFC, Yates replied: “I believe in the democratic process.” Yates has financial nous — but he does express support for carbon pricing. He thinks the cost of carbon will be factored into the future, “somehow, somewhere”.
People reducing emissions through storing carbon in trees and soil may thrive under the Coalition. Andrew Grant has made good money from carbon farming and may influence policy. Grant has criticised Direct Action but acknowledges it may work for his business. He told The Power Index he’s not worried about a change of government and has been preparing for it. Biochar expert Jane Sargison may be picked up by the Coalition.
Of course, it’s possible the Coalition wins government but doesn’t dismantle the carbon price (nor the CEFC nor CCA), meaning more continuity in the carbon sector. Scrapping Labor’s policies may not pass the Senate, and Abbott may back away from a risky double-dissolution election. Or Joe Hockey or Malcolm Turnbull may wind up PM — neither shares Abbott’s deep-seated opposition to a carbon price.
It wouldn’t be the first time the climate sector has been surprised by a political shock the commentariat didn’t see coming.
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