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Abbott says carbon tax will sink Government -

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Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has attacked the Government's carbon tax legislation as 'the longest
suicide note in history.'

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The great carbon tax debate is now underway in the federal Parliament, with
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott describing the Prime Minister as being on the wrong side of the
truth.

But exactly where Tony Abbott's predecessor Malcolm Turnbull stands in the debate is unclear.

From Canberra, Philippa McDonald reports.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD, REPORTER: Tony Abbott was on his bike, but he's not about to give the Government
a free ride when it comes to the carbon tax.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: The Prime Minister said yesterday that the question for members of
this parliament was: are you or are you not on the right side of history? Well let me say, Mr
Speaker, this is arrogant presumption by a prime minister who is on the wrong side of truth.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: When I spoke those words yesterday about being on the right side of
history, I was absolutely convinced they were true. I am convinced they're true. Just the same way
they were true when Labor brought Medicare in and just the same way they were true when we brought
superannuation to this country, bitterly contested by the Liberals every step of the way.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Tony Abbott says the tax is all about economic pain for no environmental gain.

TONY ABBOTT: This tax is all about making the essentials of modern life more expensive.

So if this tax comes in as the Government wants it to come in, we won't be able to turn on our
air-conditioner or our heater without being impacted by this tax.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: And the Opposition Leader sounded a dire warning on the ultimate consequence of
the clean energy bill.

TONY ABBOTT: It is going to turn out to be the longest political suicide not in Australian history.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: One by one members debated the bill, but there was a no-show, his name
apparently a mistake on the Speaker's list. Ultimately, Malcolm Turnbull would not be speaking.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE HOUSE: The Member for Wentworth, who was due to speak this morning
on the clean energy bills, took himself off the list. But he knew that he could contribute.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: The former Opposition Leader is in an uncomfortable position as a supporter of a
price on carbon.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, OPPOSITION COMMUNICATIONS SPOKESMAN: I'm going to study the debate, you know,
listen to the debate and read the contributions by members of the House and study the legislation
carefully and then I'll make a decision.

All of these schemes, whether it's the one Peter Shergold canvassed when we were in government or
the Rudd CPRS, as amended in the negotiations with Ian and myself, or this one, have a lot in
common.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Another Government move today announcing the terms of reference for its media
inquiry was easier political terrain for the Opposition's Communications spokesman.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Today's announcement by Senator Conroy underlines how this Gillard Government is
held to ransom by Greens. They're having an inquiry at the Greens' request, at the Greens'
insistence for no other reason other than that Bob Brown demanded it.

STEPHEN CONROY, COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: The Press Council for many, many years has usually been
seen as a fairly toothless tiger. I don't think anyone - I don't think any editor or any of you
would quake in your boots about a complaint to the Press Council.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: But concentration of media ownership is not included in the inquiry's brief.

STEPHEN CONROY: I don't need an inquiry to establish that the Murdoch press owns 70 per cent of
newspapers in this country. We've all known that for 20 years.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: News Limited says it's more like 30 per cent of print, but it's still in the
government's sights.

STEPHEN CONROY: The Daily Telegraph have a democratic right to be biased and I have a democratic
right to point out their bias. We therefore need, Mr President, media that is independent and
diverse.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: In a statement, News Limited CEO John Hartigan said, "This inquiry started life
as a witch-hunt by the Greens and has morphed into a fairly narrow look at a mixed bag of issues
ostensibly focused on print journalism."

The Opposition is now set to receive a briefing on the details of the Government's amendments to
the Migration Act on Friday and Tony Abbott could meet with the Prime Minister over the weekend to
try and negotiate a deal before Monday's shadow Cabinet meeting.

Philippa McDonald, Lateline.