It was a rainy welcome for Labor leader Bill Shorten on the northwest coast of Tasmania, as he pledged $75 million to create 70,000 in the clean energy sector.
His latest climate-related policy announcement comes as new modelling by a former government economist claimed Labor’s plan to cut emissions by 45 per cent could slow economic growth by up to 0.8 per cent over a decade, or less if more international permits are allowed.
The modelling is by Brian Fisher, a former director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economis.
But Mr Shorten says its conclusions are wrong.
“This fellow and his report remind me of the doctors that big tobacco companies used to roll out in the 70s and 80s to say that smoking was healthy,” he told reporters in Tasmania on Thursday.
“We will file this report under ‘P’ for propaganda. It’s full of wrong assumptions.”
Mr Shorten announced the northwest coast of the state would be a renewable energy zone under his government, to receive a $5 million down payment to build renewable industry.
The area is the heart of the seat of Braddon, which Labor holds by 2.3 per cent.
Under the renewable jobs plan, Labor will put $45 million towards apprenticeship incentives through which employers could get up to $8000 for taking on a trainee.
The apprentices themselves would get $2000 to help with education costs.
If Labor wins the May 18 election, a Shorten government would also put $20 million towards upgrading TAFE facilities so equipment such as batteries and solar panels are industry standard.
A further $10 million would go into a clean energy training fund so workers can be trained and upskilled for renewable industries.
Mr Shorten has spent the past few days spruiking his climate policies across the country, announcing renewable energy zones in Western Australia and South Australia.
In response to the new climate policy modelling, Mr Shorten questioned who paid for it.
“Was it right-wing think tank the Menzies Research Centre who has current Liberal MPs on the board, former Liberal MPs on the board?”
Mr Shorten says paying for climate action is an investment, banking on voters being more concerned about climate inaction than the price attached to it.
Labor has also promised to match a $308 million coalition promise for faster access to cheaper and free medicines for 1.4 million Australians.
Mr Shorten will spend the afternoon at Agfest in Launceston, which lies in the seat of Bass which Labor holds notionally by 5.4 per cent.