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Opposition says carbon trading scheme 'irresp -

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Opposition says carbon trading scheme 'irresponsible'

The World Today - Thursday, 30 October , 2008 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: The long awaited Treasury modelling on the cost of a carbon emissions trading scheme
is being released today.

But the Federal Opposition is urging the Government to delay the scheme's introduction in the light
of the financial turmoil gripping Australia and the world. It says the Treasury data is outdated
because it doesn't take the economic crisis into account and that it would be irresponsible policy
to act on it.

But the Federal Government is vowing to push ahead with its plans to get its carbon trading scheme
up and running by 2010.

In Canberra, Kirrin McKechnie reports.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: It's the final piece of the puzzle in the Federal Government's plan to tackle
climate change.

But the Treasury modelling assumes the drought will be over, the dams will be full and it hasn't
factored in the global financial crisis.

ANDREW ROBB: They are blindly heading towards that start date, irrespective of what else is
happening around the world - even the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression.
Companies are beside themselves.

All of the discussions I'm having, they just cannot understand why this Government is so committed,
so ideologically committed, to an early start date irrespective of what impact it might have on
jobs and emissions heading overseas, on the environment, whatever.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Andrew Robb is the Opposition's emissions trading spokesman. He thinks a 2010
start date is crazy.

ANDREW ROBB: Industry is saying to me that they are going to be consumed over the next year or two
just physically trying to cope with the flow on affect in the real economy of the financial
meltdown.

Now to superimpose in the next 12 months on top of that, a new tax on many of these industries that
are trying to compete against countries that will have no such impost.

It fills them with great fear about what it will mean for the viability of their business, what it
will mean for jobs and all of these factors must be taken into account. Yet you listen to the
minister, Minister Wong, you listen to Mr Swan, they appear oblivious to what is going on out there
in the real economy.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: But the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was standing firm on Fairfax Radio this
morning.

KEVIN RUDD: Our ambition remains, as I have said to you before on this program Neil and that is to
introduce the program in 2010. The reason for it is, the economic cost of inaction and delay is
greater than the economic cost of action. That's been our long standing view and we believe it's
the right course of action not just for the environment, but the economy.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: The Government says the Treasury modelling shows an emissions trading scheme will
benefit the Australian economy and could actually make the nation more competitive on the
international stage.

Kevin Rudd says although the country is in the grips of economic turmoil, the Government cannot
ignore the next looming economic challenge of our time - climate change.

KEVIN RUDD: The key thing is when you introduce a carbon pollution reduction scheme which is what
we're doing, it's necessary long term for the environment otherwise the economic impact through
rising sea levels, coastal inundation, further and more intense drought as well as the impact on
tourism in the wetlands and elsewhere, is huge and that all costs jobs.

It's important to act both for the immediate term, and for the long term. You cannot simply delay
the challenges which are rolling down the railroad tracks towards us as well.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: The Greens Senator Christine Milne agrees the world's financial woes are no
excuse to delay.

CHRISTINE MILNE: I would challenge Andrew Robb to say where does he want the economic stimulus then
to come from? Does he want it to just be given out in handouts to stimulate wanton consumerism that
doesn't actually build us any competitive advantage in the economy?

My view is that we've got a climate crisis and a financial crisis. We should be investing in the
real economy and investing in public services that get us to the transformation to a low carbon
economy as quickly as possible.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Greens Senator Christine Milne ending that report by Kirrin McKechnie in
Canberra.