Steve Lewis and Simon Benson
July 09, 2010

Daily Telegraph

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard will nail down the final plank of her election platform by taking a new climate change policy to Cabinet within days. But the policy could be bad news for the family hip pockets, with tighter restrictions expected on energy-sapping appliances like clothes dryers.

As Ms Gillard tries to restore Labor's "green" credentials, families and business owners would be offered energy-saving appliances and incentives to cut power usage. Corporations are also likely to receive financial support to "retro-fit" old buildings with state-of-the-art technology.

With the election likely to be called within just weeks, Ms Gillard is preparing a major policy announcement on climate change by early next week - addressing the third of three key policy problems for the Government after asylum seekers and the mining tax.

It is believed it will include tighter restrictions on energy-sapping household appliances such as clothes dryers, with some even being phased out, as part of a new policy to make Australia a world leader in energy efficiency. Having pushed back an emissions trading scheme to at least 2012, Ms Gillard knows she has to restore the Government's environmental standing with voters.

She is preparing to outline major new initiatives on energy efficiency and to boost renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal in what will be her final pre-election policy statement.

Key measures are being finalised, including plans for a national "energy savings initiative". The mandatory scheme will replace a patchwork of existing State-based schemes by about 2012.

Power companies will go to the homes of customers to give energy efficiency advice, with Ms Gillard pledging to reduce "our carbon footprint as a country" by starting with co-operation between households and energy companies.

But while households will be big winners from the "green" push, well-placed Government sources claim Ms Gillard will also focus on the energy savings to be made across business and in the public sector.

Power companies will be required to meet tough new efficiency standards by conducting audits of their customers and installing improved technology where appropriate.

The plan is designed to provide a so-called "step-change" in national energy usage as a key aspect of the Government's international commitment to greenhouse gas reductions, which was signed at Copenhagen.

Ms Gillard is also expected to announce a rise in energy standards for homes, office buildings and motor vehicles.

The tougher emissions code will also apply to consumer appliances including refrigerators, air-conditioners and clothes dryers. Australia allows a number of appliances that are banned from the more greenhouse-conscious countries such as Europe and Japan.