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Coalition delaying carbon emissions scheme -

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ELEANOR HALL: Now to national politics and the division over what to do about reducing Australia's
carbon emissions.

Coalition leader Brendan Nelson has indicated today that the Opposition will not support an
emissions reduction scheme that starts before 2011, and that its preferred start up date is 2012.

In doing so, Dr Nelson is effectively forcing the Government to do a deal with the Greens if it
wants to bring in its carbon pollution scheme as planned in 2010.

But with the Greens demanding ambitious emissions cuts, the Government would prefer to negotiate
with the Coalition to get its legislation through the Senate, and it's now accusing Dr Nelson of
aligning himself with the climate change sceptics.

The Prime Minister says global warming has become a pawn in the battle for the Liberal leadership.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition leader Brendan Nelson's inserted a big hurdle to Kevin Rudd's
ambition for an emissions trading scheme to be introduced in 2010.

Dr Nelson says that start date defies all logic: economic, good governance and management.

BRENDAN NELSON: This is about Australia, it's about our long-term interests, Mr Rudd's primary
responsibility is to get it right and all I can say then to Mr Rudd is to paraphrase him, "My name
is Brendan, I'm from Sydney and I'm here to help you."

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition leader says 2011 is the earliest an emissions trading scheme should
begin.

BRENDAN NELSON: Well we have consistently been of the view that you cannot responsibly start an
emissions trading scheme earlier than 2011, and preferably in 2012.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Now you say not before 2011, preferably 2012, but not definitely?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well, certainly, the most important thing we've got to do here is to get this
right. We've got to make sure this is right for Australia, that it is environmentally credible,
that it's economically responsible and we're able to see our economy continue to grow.

And importantly, that in the implementation of an emissions trading scheme, that we understand that
industries, jobs and the protection, particularly of vulnerable, low-income and low-middle income
Australians, that they are protected in the process.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So are you proposing any specific start-up date?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well look, we need again, I think, Mr Rudd needs to make available to me and to my
senior shadow ministers his top officials who are working on this. We need to be fully briefed in
this to get a clear understanding, as does the Australian public, about what the Government is
considering.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has called on Dr Nelson to put the national
interest before his leadership interest.

PENNY WONG: Look, what is clear is that Dr Nelson has again chosen to line himself up with the
Kyoto sceptics in the Liberal Party. We call on Dr Nelson to stop playing short-term politics with
this issue, to consider the future of our children and our grandchildren and put the national
interest before his leadership interests.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister has taken a similar line of attack.

KEVIN RUDD: And I would strongly urge all people who are interested in the country's long-term
interest to get on board; rather than playing short-term electoral politics, which now seems to be
caught up in the leadership politics of the Liberal Party, on this critical question of climate
change.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Greens leader Bob Brown supports a 2010 start date.

He says, "Dr Nelson's statements this morning indicating that even 2012 might be too early is
perplexing" and a "spoiling tactic". But he doesn't think that puts the Greens in the box seat for
negotiating the emissions trading scheme through the Senate.

BOB BROWN: No, I don't, I think Brendan Nelson and the Coalition are becoming a moving feast, and
it's hard to tell from day-to-day what their next back off from responsible action on climate
change will be.

But the Green are consistent; we have of all the parties stated what the targets should be.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And you support a 2010 start-up date for an emissions trading scheme?

BOB BROWN: Yes, it should be as early as possible, and the Government's talking of 2010. The
Opposition's now talking about 2011 at earliest, 2012 and maybe later than that if they really are
going to wait for overseas action, and the scientists tell us that that is irresponsible.

And our job is to make the Government's position, when it comes down the line, to improve it. And
we'll be attempting to do that, but we're not setting pre-conditions because that's not the spirit
of a negotiation process that's going to get a better outcome for all Australians.

ALEXANDAR KIRK: Having said early in the week that the Coalition backed a carbon trading scheme
starting no later than 2012, Brendan Nelson's comments today appear to have left the door open on a
start date.

BRENDAN NELSON: When you look at it all responsibly, in terms of jobs, in terms of industries, in
terms of the protection of very complex systems to protect vulnerable Australians in this
transition period, you would have to say the earliest is 2011, and ideally, in 2012.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The bottom line is, though, for you, that there is no, in your mind, definite
start-up date that even 2012 is a possible start-up date, is that correct?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well, again, we've got to start this when we are confident that we are able to do
it efficiently, that we are able to do it in full knowledge of the economic consequences of it, and
do it in a way and at a time when we fully understand the impact on industry, on jobs, and how, in
particular, are we going to protect the most vulnerable people in this, because in the end, we're
all going to pay for it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition leader's office says the Coalition's position is for a 2012 start
date.

But if there's no action by major emitters such as China and India, then the emissions trading
scheme should start in such a way that Australian jobs and industries aren't hurt; in other words
kick-off with a low carbon price.

ELEANOR HALL: Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.