Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Meet The Press -

View in ParlView




MEET THE PRESS PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to Meet the Press. The battle
lines are clearly drawn in the climate change debate.

ECONOMIST SIR NICHOLAS STERN (Wednesday): Setting a target for reductions for 2050 of at least 60%,
as part of a rich world responsibility, is the right thing to do.

PM JOHN HOWARD (Wednesday): That would have a devastating effect on the Australian economy. It
would cost thousands of jobs.

OPPOSITION LEADER KEVIN RUDD (Wednesday): Sir Nicholas Stern recommended that we reduce our
greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050, that's Labor policy, it's not the Government's policy.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is our guest. And later, a perspective on the
David Hicks saga from human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC. But first, what's making news in the
nation's papers this Sunday April 1 - The 'Sunday Mail' leads with "Drug claim shocks Thorpe."
Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe is deeply shocked and distressed at claims he possibly
returned a positive drug test. The out-of-competition test was conducted in May last year. The
Adelaide 'Sunday Mail' has "Out in time to celebrate New Year." Confessed terrorist David Hicks
will return to Australia within 60 days and walk free from Yatala jail on December 30. The mother
of David Hicks's two children says she feels like she's been "hit by a truck" at news he will
return home soon. The 'Sunday Age' reports "Rudd plans China talks on climate." Labor leader Kevin
Rudd will take a delegation to China in three months to discuss measures to combat greenhouse gas
emissions. The emerging giant is the world's second biggest polluter. The announcement came at the
end of the ALP's climate summit.

KEVIN RUDD (Yesterday): We do face a gathering storm. And our challenge is whether we see the signs
of the times and act or whether the storm engulfs us.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Australian bowler Glenn McGrath overnight has set a World Cup record for most
wickets. His haul of 3/16 from 5 overs against Bangladesh pushing McGrath with 57 wickets, 2 ahead
of previous record holder Wasim Akram. Al Gore called his documentary on global a warming 'An
Inconvenient Truth' and according to polling commissioned by the non-partisan Climate Institute,
80% of Australians want a plan from the Government to cut greenhouse gas pollution with legal
targets for 2020 and 2050. It's a challenge for Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Welcome to
the program, Minister.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, will you accept that challenge? According to the Climate Institute's national
poll, people want legal targets by 2020, 2050. Will they get them?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, there is no country in the world that is doing more practically and
effectively to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes of global warming. I
notice Mr Rudd talked about going to China. I met only last week with the Chinese environment
minister to discuss more cooperation on environmental matters. And we already have a very important
agreement, both a multilateral one through the AP6 to cooperate on the clean coal technologies that
will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly for China, which is so dependent on coal, and
also a bilateral agreement, just China and Australia, on the same thing, so the Chinese-Australian
collaboration which is so important because China will be within a few years the world's biggest
emitter, is operating very well.

PAUL BONGIORNO: So Mr Turnbull, that's a no, isn't it?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, we will not set targets that are going to devastate the Australian economy.
All of the research that we've seen - and of course research 50 years out is inevitably pretty
speculative - but all of the research we've seen demonstrates - and this is common sense - that if
Australia were to set a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions unilaterally, without the rest of the
world joining in, that would devastate our economy.

PAUL BONGIORNO: How can you claim that no Government, not one, has done more, when for example the
Government of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California has set a target of 80% by 2050?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: But he has no way of meeting that. This is aspiration. By 2050...

PAUL BONGIORNO: It's a pretty good aspiration!

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Arnold Schwarzenegger will be contributing to the carbon cycle himself as
probably you and I will, as will Mr Rudd. So, it's easy to set these long-term targets, but you can
kill your economy. The fact...

PAUL BONGIORNO: You say you can kill the economy, the Treasurer for example has ruled out an audit.
Kevin Rudd yesterday called for a Stern-like audit on what will be the effects on Australia.
Shouldn't we at least put some meat on these claims by doing an audit?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: ABARE published a number of studies on the potential costs already. There was one
published in July 2006 which looked at a number of scenarios, but let me just go through what the
cost to the Australian economy would be. If you assume you're going to have a big cut in greenhouse
gas emissions by a particular date, the first big assumption is what is the rest of the world going
to do, because if you increase the cost of electricity significantly, for an energy intensive
industry that is a largely an exporter like gas, like coal, like aluminium and the rest of the
world doesn't, all that you do, Paul, is you export the emissions, that those businesses move
somewhere else and the world is no better off.

PAUL BONGIORNO: What about solar, you can cut emissions without having to be going that way?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Paul, the thing that Labor misses, the thing that they completely miss, they do
not understand climate change, is it's a global problem. It's a global problem. A tonne of carbon
that goes into...

PAUL BONGIORNO: We're the biggest emitters on earth at the moment.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We're not the biggest emitters on earth at the moment. That's completely untrue.
The reason we do have big emissions, let me finish, per head of population, is because we have so
many energy intensive export industries. See, it's like me saying that Peter Garrett's electorate
has bigger emissions per head of population than my electorate because he's got an airport in it.
My constituents get planes at Mascot Airport too. You see, when we export aluminium, we're
exporting that to the rest of the world. If we want to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, shut down
the aluminium sector. Do you think people will use any less aluminium? They'll just make it
somewhere else. A ton (sic) of carbon that goes into the atmosphere in Sydney, Shanghai,
Washington, Stockholm, Beijing, has the same effect, and that's why the PM's global initiative on
forests and climate change is so important. See, we are tackling a global problem globally. Labor
is trying to put the Australian people and the Australian economy into an economic hair shirt.

PAUL BONGIORNO: During the week we saw a debate over solar panels. Labor has put $50 million, it
says it's doubled the funding for the rebate.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: They said they doubled the rebate, which was completely untrue.

PAUL BONGIORNO: That's true. That was a faux pas, but they did put...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It was a misrepresentation.

PAUL BONGIORNO: A misspeaking. But there was $50 million out there. Will the Government at least
match that?

MALCOLM TURNBULL Well, we've said we're going to extend and expand the solar panel, the
photovoltaic rebate program. But the Treasurer has some important things to announce in the Budget
and I'm not going to steal his thunder today.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Pity about that. Before we go to a break, we have the first of our exclusive Ipsos
Meet the Press national opinion polls for the year. On the first anniversary of the Government's
WorkChoices legislation we asked how the new industrial laws will affect your vote in the upcoming
election. 14% said it would make them more likely to vote for the Coalition. 38% said less likely,
30% said it would have no effect and 17% weren't sure how it will affect their vote. Of those who
voted Liberal last time, 14% said they were less likely to this time. Mr Turnbull, another poll
showing WorkChoices not a vote winner for the Government?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I think when it comes to the election, people are going to look at the
rhetoric and the propaganda from the Labor Party on the one hand and then compare it to the
reality. Record levels of employment, real wages rising, record lows in industrial disputation.
Labor said WorkChoices would destroy jobs. It has created jobs.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Coming up with the panel - is Australia a free rider on climate remedies? And this
is our moment of the week.

DEPUTY LABOR LEADER JULIA GILLARD (Tuesday): My question is to the Minister for Employment and
Workplace Relations, that big bear of a man. Minister, is it a fact...

JOE HOCKEY: I thank the Deputy Leader for the compliment, Mr Speaker. I'd like to see more of you,
too, Julia.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press with Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. And welcome to
our panel, Michelle Grattan, the 'Age', good morning Michelle, and Brian Toohey the Australian
'Financial Review', good morning, Brian. In one of his final assignments for the Government of Tony
Blair, economist Sir Nicholas Stern issued a warning to the world on the need for urgent action on
climate change. Business as usual, he says, will cost more within 30 years than measures
implemented now. And a rich country like Australia should not hold back.

SIR NICHOLAS STERN (Wednesday): Now, many would argue - and I would certainly share this view -
that the rich countries should take the major share of the action. Why? Because they're responsible
through their past release of energy to their past growth, for at least 75% of the concentrations
in the atmosphere.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Michelle Grattan?

MICHELLE GRATTAN, THE 'AGE': Mr Turnbull, this is the equity argument. Do you accept it? Do you
believe that the richer countries like Australia should very much bear the load now?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, the richer countries, the developed world is bearing, is the only part of
the world that is actually working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And just in terms of what
Nick Stern has said about urgent action, Australia is moving more emphatically and more effectively
than any other developed country. We will meet our Kyoto target. Most developed countries who are
Annex 1 countries to Kyoto will miss it, and some by a very large margin. We will meet it, and,
secondly, we are doing practical things that will work - lighting efficiency, leading the world.
The initiative we announced last week on forests and climate change, this has the potential, even
if it's only moderately successful, globally, at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10
times the achievement of Kyoto. This is really material, substantial, near-term practical change.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: But you make this argument strongly and yet the Government does always seem
behind the eightball on this whole area, Labor seems to have the initiative. For example, you talk
about meeting Kyoto targets, yet the whole argument is it turns on ratifying. Why do you think that
Labor seems to be so far ahead in public opinion?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, for Labor it's a religious issue. Labor is verging on becoming fanatical
about this issue. In a sense, they do not care how poor we have to become...

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Seems religious for the public?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I think religion is a very poor guide to public policy, I have to tell you, and
what is becoming - so ratifying Kyoto is becoming a symbolic exercise. Nick Stern said at this
stage to ratify Kyoto would symbolic for Australia.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Is he a religious fanatic too?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: No, I'm not suggesting he's a religious fanatic at all, but this is the point,
Michelle, symbols. We are about substance, we're about real achievement, practical achievement,
things that work. See, Kyoto is a failed mechanism. It's not just failed because most of the
world's biggest emitters are not part of it, it's not just failed because it will only reduce
greenhouse gas emissions growth by 1%, it's also failed because it doesn't address the second
biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions, which is global deforestation. I might say, that and
nuclear power, which is one of the biggest contributors on the other side of the coin to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power and deforestation were not on the agenda of Mr Rudd's
climate change summit. He talks about letting 100 flowers bloom. I think he's got more in common
with Chairman Mao than Hans Dietrich Bonhoeffer when you look at it pretty carefully.

BRIAN TOOHEY, THE 'AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW': If Australia's going to become poorer, other than
if agnostics like yourself look at climate change, surely the reality is that in fact Australia
will become richer and that dealing with climate change will not be a big problem. Two of the major
industry groups involved directly in this area, the Energy Supply Association of Australia and the
National Generators Forum have both done detailed studies involving very deep cuts in greenhouse
gas emissions and they find that the price of electricity will rise by less than the growth in the
Australian economy and the growth in people's incomes. So that the reality, far from becoming
poorer, the cost of electricity will be a smaller part of people's household budgets and most
business budgets.

MALCOLM TURNBULL Well, Brian, all of these models are only as good as the assumptions as you know.

BRIAN TOOHEY: They're based on intimate knowledge. The one you're talking about, ABARE, is a
computer generated, millions of equations, you look for 1,000 years and never read or understand
the ABARE. This you can understand because it's based on...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I've only lived for a little over 50 years and I've got a pretty good

BRIAN TOOHEY: I bet you haven't run all the equations! This is the industry intimately involved and
the price of electricity will continue to fall as a share of household budgets, even though it's
going to go up.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: OK, these are the key factors that affect the economic consequence of greenhouse
gas emission cuts in Australia. The first one is the cost of technology, how much is it going to
cost us...

BRIAN TOOHEY: Well, they put all that in...

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Let me just finish, Brian - you gave us a soliloquy a moment ago, I'll give mine.
What is the cost of clean coal going to be, what will be the cost of nuclear going to be, what will
happen to the price path of solar energy, how much cheaper will that become? It's not competitive
now, we know that. The other big thing that is vitally important for us, an exporting country, is
what is the rest of the world going to do? If you model substantial cuts in greenhouse gas
emissions and the rest of the world, we're all in it together in a global solution, I agree the
cost to Australia will be much less, but if we go it alone, which is what Rudd is proposing, we
will achieve nothing globally, we won't stop global warming and we will pauperise ourselves.

PAUL BONGIORNO: The second issue we tested in our nation-wide Ipsos poll was how coast to coast
Labor Governments would affect your vote in the upcoming Federal election. 29% said they were more
likely to vote Labor, 16% less likely, 41% said it will have no effect, and 14% weren't sure. Well,
Minister, senior ministers have been hammering that argument all week. It seems there's a lot more
work to do to make it stick?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I think there's a very substantial percentage there anxious about wall to wall
Labor Governments and Kevin Rudd has already shown he's a patsy for the State Labor Governments.
There is a lot to be afraid of. The Labor Party is very tribal and Rudd is a creature of the
Queensland Labor Party machine.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Before we go, when John Howard leaves, whenever that is, will you put your hand up
for the leadership?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I wouldn't even begin to think about that or speculate about that. I'll leave
that to you guys.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thanks for being with us today, Malcolm Turnbull. After the break, eminent lawyer
Julian Burnside QC and the David Hicks guilty plea, and this week's Nicholson cartoon from the
'Australian' newspaper's website as this take on the departure of Queensland Liberal Senator Santo

SANTO SANTORO CHARACTER: G'day, Santo Santoro here. I feel that an apology is in order. I have let
a lot of people down. G'day, yep, 3,000 units. Buy 450. Keep your legs crossed. Where was I? Yes,
to all you developers, investors, underwriters, I promised you I'd pull the strings, give you a leg
up, grease the wheels, I screwed up big times Sorry about that. Sell at $6. I'm off to the
retirement village now to count my parliamentary pension.

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on Meet the Press. Confessed terrorist David Hicks received a very, very
favourable plea deal, according to US chief military prosecutor Colonel Mo Davis. Under the deal,
Hicks will be back in Australia within three months and out of jail by the new year. But he has
been hit with a gag order until after the Federal election. For his father, Terry, it's a

TERRY HICKS (Yesterday): Nine months I think is a lot better than 12 years. But I suppose the end
result is now David has a stigma attached to him, that people are saying he's a terrorist.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, Julian Burnside QC has been following developments and welcome back to the
program Mr Burnside. How do you see the outcome? Is it a good end to a sorry saga?

HUMAN RIGHTS BARRISTER JULIAN BURNSIDE QC: Well, yes and no. It's good for David Hicks because he's
been through five years of hell and now at least there's an end in sight, but it's a bad outcome
because the whole deal is poisoned at the This deal comes at the end of five years of what must be
almost unbearable treatment. It comes just before he was about to face a trial that by any standard
was going to be an unfair trial, and it comes in circumstances where the Government which has
abandoned him for the last five years has decided they'd better do something to help him because
it's an election year. So frankly, I don't think anyone should draw any inferences against Hicks
just because he's done this deal. Frankly, I think most people in his situation would have done the
deal no matter what.

BRIAN TOOHEY: Apart from accepting for the moment that he was incarcerated for far too long before
being charged and that had he faced the military tribunal, the trial would not have been fair,
don't you think there's a reasonable chance however that were he put before a civilian court
within, say, a year, he would have been found guilty of the narrow charge of assisting or providing
material support to a terrorist organisation?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: Well, I doubt it very much. Because it seems - obviously if he'd been tried in a
civil court they would not have been able to receive hearsay evidence, they would not have been
able to receive evidence obtained by coercion and it seems fairly clear that none of the evidence
that was going to be led against him would have got through those hurdles. Why do you think they
introduced specific rules for this commission set up specifically for him that allowed hearsay and
coerced evidence? That was the problem with the trial that he was facing.

BRIAN TOOHEY: There was another Australian, Mr Habib, who spent time at Guantanamo Bay after he'd
been "rendered", as the euphemism goes, to Egypt where he was tortured for many, many months. Is
there any way that prosecutions could be launched against those, given that torture is against the
law in Australia and internationally, is there any way that prosecutions could be launched against
those who were in any way complicit, be they Australian officials or Egyptian officials?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: It's possible but very difficult. I have some involvement in that area so I don't
want to say too much.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Can I turn to the issue of the Sri Lankans on Narau? If these people have not
been processed by the time of a Labor Government, if a Labor Government was elected at the end of
the year, what do you think Kevin Rudd should do?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: Well, first of all we have to understand what you mean by processed. The problem
with the Pacific solution is that the people caught up in it are not processed in the sense that
they they're not allowed to apply for a protection visa to Australia. The process is not one of
processing a visa claim, it's a process of seeing whether they meat the convention test of being
refugees. If they clear that hurdle, then they're hawked around the world to any country that will
take them off our hands. I understand the Labor Party is willing to continue that system of
processing, if you like to call it, and frankly it makes very little different if it's done on
Christmas Island or on Nauru. If they're not allowed to apply for protection in Australia we are
turning our back on convention.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: What should Labor do if those people are still undealt with at the end of the

JULIAN BURNSIDE: They should - if they have satisfied the test of being refugees, they should be
offered protection in Australia.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Aren't you arguing for the floodgates to be opened for a flood of refuses to come
into Australia?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: (Laughs) Well, you know, that's the sort of big bad wolf reaction that the
Government has, but history and geography tell against that. We have never been flooded with
refugees ever in our history. The numbers during the Howard Government's life have averaged 1,000
people a year or less. At the moment, fewer than 150 in the last couple of years, how can anyone
say that...

MICHELLE GRATTAN: But that's with a very though policy. Do you concede at all that there is a
problem of people coming here illegally if there wasn't a tough policy?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: They do not come here illegally. It is not an offence to come here without papers
and seek asylum. It's a right given by the universal declaration of human rights. To call them
illegals, to say they come here illegally is just wrong, it's a wrong starting point.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Well - coming - do you concede there would be a problem of people coming with a
softer policy?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: No, I don't. The reason I say that is that during Malcolm Fraser's Government for
example, he brought in, quietly, without a fuss, about 25,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian boat people
per year. The Howard Government, the biggest number it's ever seen come in was 4,100 in any
12-month period since 1996. Anyone who calls that a flood is just on a different planet. We've got
50,000 visa overstayers in the community that haven't seemed to cause a problem. We have 130,000
new migrants every year. Where's the flood in 100 or 200 people coming in one year or even 1,000 in
one year?

BRIAN TOOHEY: Just going back to what might seem to be an unfinished aspect of the David Hicks
case, it is not a crime at the moment in Australia for an Australian citizen to go and fight on the
side of a despicable government, which the Taliban undoubtedly was. Do you think it should be a
crime to do that in future?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: Well, if that Government is a banned organisation, it is a crime.

BRIAN TOOHEY: Not a terrorist one? A nasty, authoritarian Government that's not a terrorist one.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Mugabe's government for example.

JULIAN BURNSIDE: Yeah, they should be listed as a banned organisation, probably. But the point with
Hicks of course is that it was not a crime at the time he did what he did.

BRIAN TOOHEY: So should it be a crime now?

JULIAN BURNSIDE: I think fighting with a lawful government probably should not be a crime anywhere.
You may think it despicable and regrettable, but it shouldn't be a criminal offence.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for joining us today, Julian Burnside and thanks to our panel,
Michelle Grattan and Brian Toohey. Until next week, goodbye.