Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet.
Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. Cathy Adams

Minister accused of distorting speech

FEDERAL Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has accused a Queensland government minister of deliberately distorting a speech by a key Gillard government adviser on the carbon tax.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle on Friday released a statement claiming Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce had delivered a speech warning the carbon tax was "already damaging Australia's global market standing".

The statement sparked a tit-for-tat argument, deepening the divide between the Queensland LNP and federal Labor.

Mr Pierce's address, at the World Energy Forum in Canada, warned of "significant uncertainties" for global markets if the carbon tax was changed or repealed in the event of a change of government.

But Mr McArdle's statement incorrectly took this to mean he was "alluding to brawling within Labor ranks".

Mr McArdle said "the warning vindicated the LNP's opposition to the carbon tax".

"His criticism is a damning indictment of Labor's lies to the Australian people about carbon tax," Mr McArdle said.

"It says a lot about their methods that one of their top advisers had to go offshore to tell the truth: the carbon tax is a ticking time bomb buried in Australia's economy."

But a spokesman for Mr Combet said if Mr McArdle's media release had been a high school essay, "his teacher would have given him a fail for misquotation and distortion".

"Mr Pierce did indeed discuss the impact of uncertainty over carbon pricing in Australia's electricity market," he said.

"But what Mr McArdle fails to point out is that the real reason for uncertainty in the electricity market comes from Tony Abbott's negativity on tackling climate change.

"The federal Liberal leader's reckless stance is more costly for our economy and would disrupt the efficient functioning of our energy markets.

"Furthermore, Mr Pierce's speech emphasised the importance of market mechanisms, like the carbon price, as the lowest cost policy option."

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