The termination of the Contracts for Closure program represents a breach of trust on the part of the government and a short-sighted failure to negotiate in good faith on the part of both the government and the coal generators, the Australian Greens said today.
"Following this failure of good faith and good sense by both Minister Ferguson and the coal generators, the Greens will use every political and parliamentary lever we can to speed up the transition to a clean energy economy," Australian Greens Leader, Christine Milne, said.
"Putting Martin Ferguson in charge of this process was always giving the fox control of the hen house and he is now responsible for the first serious breach of faith in the implementation of the Clean Energy Act.
"This is a breach of the commitment made to the public and to the planet to close down our dirtiest coal fired power stations and it shows once again that, with people like Martin Ferguson running the show, you simply can't trust Labor to protect the environment.
"Since the coal generators clearly don't think their asset value has been damaged by the price on pollution, they don't need the compensation that has been allocated to them and we will immediately move to bring forward the Productivity Commission review of levels of compensation.
"This was the best chance coal generators were ever going to get to be helped with an orderly exit. Their failure to negotiate in good faith shows contempt for their investors as well as for the climate, since they will now have to close without the benefit of government assistance.
"It is hard to see that any serious negotiations could have taken place since the linkage to the EU ETS was announced, a decision that will substantially lift the price on pollution from 2018.
"If coal generators did not take the long term price into account in their negotiations, or if Minister Ferguson did not adequately negotiate with them in the last week, both of them have demonstrated a lack of good faith and good sense.
"The only logical step from here is to cut back the compensation for coal fired power stations and bring on the transition to clean, renewable energy faster.