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Turnbull falls behind Nelson on emissions sch -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition's front bench is falling into line behind leader Brendan
Nelson's tougher stance on an emissions trading scheme.

Earlier this week, Dr Nelson said the Coalition wouldn't accept a scheme that starts before 2011.

The Coalition's Treasury spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, who has been advocating a 2012 launch, has
now abandoned that position, telling The World Today that that date applied to a Coalition
Government emissions trading scheme.

Meanwhile the electricity industry has been warning the Government that a 20 per cent cut to
emissions by 2020 would force the closure of several power stations and push power bills up by more
than 25 per cent.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The electricity industry's new modelling on an carbon trading scheme has found that
a 20 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 could trigger the closure of four out of five power plants
in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, both coal fired power stations in South Australia and one major plant
in New South Wales and Victoria.

Brad Page, the chief executive officer of the Energy Suppliers' Association, says that medium-term
target would take the carbon price to $55 a tonne.

BRAD PAGE: A cut of that magnitude in our sector would probably see about a quarter of Australia's
current electricity generation plant being retired, probably earlier than it otherwise would have
been.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And what would happen to power bills?

BRAD PAGE: The modelling suggests that over the 10 years to 2020, power bills would rise in that
scenario by about 28 per cent on what they otherwise would be. Those plants are going to have to
close and be replaced with much lower emission plants.

That's not in contention, and the issue around providing some support in a transition sense to
those plants is not about making sure that they can run on forever. That would not allow you to
meet your emission reductions.

What it's about is making sure that the large scale debt that sits over a number of those plants as
well as the legitimate equity holdings of shareholders are recognised and the arbitrary loss in
wealth is recompensed.

Now exactly how much that is, is a matter of contention and something that, to be honest, companies
and to a lesser extent, associations, will need to talk to the Government about over the next
period before the White Paper.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister has responded briefly.

KEVIN RUDD: We're already investing a half a billion dollars in our Clean Coal Initiative to assist
that industry.

Secondly, we have already indicated through the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper that
we will also be providing some assistance through the electricity supply adjustment fund and of
course we will be in continued consultation with the industry.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Any plan the Government had of negotiating with the Coalition to start emissions
trading in 2010 has faded further into the distance with a shift today by Shadow Treasurer Malcolm
Turnbull.

Brendan Nelson has toughened his stance, declaring this week his preference for carbon trading to
start in 2012, but declining to nominate a fixed start date and linking the scope of a scheme to
action by the world's biggest emitters: India, China and the United States.

Malcolm Turnbull supported the existing Coalition policy of Australia starting emissions trading by
2012, irrespective of what other countries do, but not any more. Today, he's fallen in behind his
leader.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well an emissions trading scheme shouldn't start until it is ready and until it
is in Australia's interest for it to start. Now the Government is definitely rushing this. 2010 is
far too soon.

Firstly we are quite convinced it cannot be made ready by then and secondly, we will not know what
the shape of international climate agreement is going to look like until, at the earliest, December
2009 at the Copenhagen meeting.

When we were in government, we had a start date of not later than 2012. That was our best estimate
at that time but we now have a new government, we're not talking about our emission trading scheme,
we are talking about Labor's.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So are you in the camp in the Coalition which says that you shouldn't put up a
start date at this point?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, you cannot put up a start date until you know what it is you are starting.

You see, Labor does not have a final proposal before us. They've got their Green Paper. We have got
to look at what they propose and then formulate our response to it. There are some vital inputs in
terms of international developments that we will not know about until the very end of 2009 at the
earliest.

Why would you want to be building an emissions trading scheme in the dark? We've got to know what
the US, the United States' new government is going to do, the new president. We've got to know what
the global international agreement is going to look like in Copenhagen.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But if the other countries can't agree, should Australia still go ahead with an
emissions trading scheme?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, let's wait and see what emerges next year. This is ... you see, this is why
it is important not to be rushing at this.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Brendan Nelson has called his troops together next week to talk emissions and tax.
Dr Nelson wants to at least finalise the Opposition's climate change policy.

Some have suggested it's all tied to the leadership question and Peter Costello's plans. Mr
Costello is on holidays and will be overseas when the MPs congregate in Canberra.

ELEANOR HALL: Alexandra Kirk reporting.