Milne offers to deal on direct action if RET protected

Greens leader Christine Milne accused the Coalition of governing for the big end of town. AAP/Lukas Coch

Greens leader Christine Milne has said her party is willing to negotiate with the government “to knock Direct Action into shape” – but only if it is not separated from the Renewable Energy Target.

Milne said destroying the RET and pretending that Direct Action alone could bring down emissions “will not cut it”.

If he wanted the Greens to consider Direct Action, Prime Minister Tony Abbott must abandon his attack on the RET, she told the National Press Club.

“Over to you, PM,” she said. “The RET is popular, it is bringing down emissions, creating jobs, attracting investment. It must not only be saved by the Senate – it must be given certainty.”

Having abolished the carbon tax, the government needs to negotiate Direct Action through the Senate or it will be left without a climate change policy. Some voices on the left have been urging the Greens to play ball.

On RET, the government is considering a report from the Warburton review which gives options for scrapping or cutting back the scheme. But the Palmer United Party says it believes the RET should stay at least until the next election – if it holds to this view the government can’t get changes through the Senate. The RET is also popular in the community.

In a strong attack Milne accused the Coalition of “governing for the big end of town”.

“With big business wielding such power and influence over the Labor and Liberal parties, we need to face the cold hard fact that Australia is no longer a democracy. It has become a plutocracy, a country governed by and for wealthy people and corporations.”

She said that major reform was needed “to break the stranglehold that the vested interests of the fossil fuel era have over the government and the Labor opposition.

"We have reached such an extreme position that a coal magnate has his own political party to vote down the carbon price and the mining tax.”

The public wouldn’t have confidence in federal parliament until the political donation system was reformed and there was a national independent commission against corruption, she said. “We have to end the corrupting influence of the big end of town.”

Milne said there was a multi pronged attack coming on “old king coal”. The corrupting influence it had on politics was on the nose after being exposed in the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, ordinary people were divesting from old pollution fossil fuel industries, and the world was moving away from wanting to buy our coal.

“The market challenge facing coal is that it is in structural decline from which it will never return to its previous highs.”