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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 6398

Senator BOSWELL (2:56 PM) —Has the minister seen the recent UN report—

The PRESIDENT —Sorry, Senator Boswell, who is this addressed to?

Senator BOSWELL —Senator Wong.

The PRESIDENT —In what capacity?

Senator BOSWELL —As the Minister for Climate Change and Water. Has the minister seen the recent UN World Economic and Social Survey 2009 that calls for existing climate change funding of $21 billion to be astronomically increased to US$500 billion or US$600 billion a year to be paid by the developed countries? How much of taxpayers’ money will the Australian government commit in this regard?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I say to the coalition and those sensible people, perhaps in the Liberal Party—

Government senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Order! When there is silence, we will proceed.

Senator WONG —I am trying to not—

Senator Abetz interjecting—

Senator WONG —I am genuinely putting this proposition, Senator Abetz. I know you find that difficult to comprehend. If you are interested in an international agreement then clearly financing is part of that. I suggest those on the other side who want to play a role internationally, those on the other side who say they want a global agreement—and there are many Liberals who do—consider with some—

Senator Ian Macdonald —Do you know the answer to the question? If you do, give it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Macdonald!

Senator WONG —Those on the other side who say they want a global response to climate change will have to deal with the fact that financing will be part of that agreement. That would be the case under our government or under your government. I remind you also that you and your leader have in fact said you want a global agreement.

On the issue of financing, we have been very clear that this is a matter still for significant discussion and dialogue in the negotiations. We have been very clear that this is part of the whole of the negotiations for an international agreement. I have read with some concern Senator Boswell’s comments. Again I invite those who want to be sensible on this issue to remember that, if an international agreement is in Australia’s national interest, which it is, then Australia, like all other countries, will have to deal with the issue of financing. That is self-evident. (Time expired)

Senator BOSWELL —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Has the minister seen reports that the European Union suggest Australia pay $3.8 billion a year in overseas climate aid, which is close to our existing foreign budget? We need answers from the government before you go to Copenhagen with a blank cheque. How much money will come out of the Australian budget over the next few years to help developing countries tackle climate change?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I want to be clear that financing will require a multiplicity of financing vehicles and it will require significant leveraging of carbon markets. It will require significant leveraging of private sector investment through carbon markets. This is a complex discussion that is being negotiated both through the UNFCCC and has also been discussed in the G20 context. Clearly, Australia will need to be part, as we are, of the current discussions and to be clear about this being part of the international negotiations. There have been no clear commitments made as yet, Senator Boswell, because these issues are still being negotiated. But I do want to again say to the Liberal Party: if you are serious about an international response to climate change, you cannot run away from this issue. And we invite the Liberal Party—

Senator Abetz interjecting—

Senator WONG —I do not include Senator Abetz in the ‘sensible Liberals’ collective, especially with those interjections. I invite those opposite, genuinely, to approach this— (Time expired)

Senator BOSWELL —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I ask the minister: does the Australian government support an international tax levy in order to finance green aid to developing countries, as suggested by the UN report? If so, what extra tax will Australians have to pay?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I am aware of the UN report and the EU report—you have referenced both, Senator Boswell. I am not aware of the specific proposal that you reference, from what you say. I may well be, but I may not understand it in the way you describe it. What I can say is that there are a whole range of means by which financing may well be delivered. They do not simply involve public financing. They also necessarily involve private sector financing. That is why the role of carbon markets is so important. The nature of the transformation the world has to make during our lifetime is beyond the capacity of governments alone to fund. That is why policies such as the CPRS and policies internationally that involve the development of carbon markets are so critical. These are issues to be negotiated. And, as I said, I invite the Liberal opposition to take a mature, sensible approach to this issue, because if you want to deal— (Time expired)

Senator Chris Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.