24 Jul 2010

Gillard launches revised climate change policy

6:05 am on 24 July 2010

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heckled by protesters as she released her party's revised climate change policy on Friday, which includes the establishment of a citizens' assembly.

The ABC reports the citizens' assembly would be made up of up to 200 volunteers and would work alongside a group of scientists appointed by the government to advise it on climate change.

The assembly would sound out public support for a price on carbon.

When Ms Gillard took over from Kevin Rudd three weeks ago she said she wanted to establish community consensus before going ahead with an emissions trading scheme.

The announcement has already been roundly criticised by the Opposition and Greens. Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt says the committee will make no difference, while Greens Senator Christine Milne said Ms Gillard was showing a complete lack of leadership.

Ms Gillard faced a small but vocal group of protesters during her speech at the University of Queensland. One protester was wrestled to ground by police just metres from the podium.

Also under the policy, new coal-fired power stations will have to meet greener standards before they can be built, Ms Gillard said.

Ms Gillard has promised to spend more than $1billion over 10 years to connect the country's electricity networks to renewable energy sources.

Ms Gillard says industries would be rewarded for acting immediately to cut their emissions, rather than waiting for an emissions trading scheme to start in 2012 or later.

But she has rejected calls from green groups to adopt an emissions trading scheme earlier.