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Industry calls for more emission concessions -

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Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is coming under pressure from business to further soften the
financial blow of its emissions trading scheme.

The Australian Industry Group says the scheme will cost business an extra $8-billion in the first
year, and it's calling for faster write-offs for all investments that reduce greenhouse gas
emissions.

The Government says it will consider the proposal, but it comes at a time of maximum pressure on
the Budget.

The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is in the United States and she spoke from there to
Alexandra Kirk.

PENNY WONG: I think there are two things which have struck me about the discussions I've had so
far.

The first is that people are watching very closely what is happening in Australia.

There is consideration of Australia's experience in designing our carbon pollution reduction
scheme.

And the second thing that's obviously very important to the United States is ensuring that their
domestic position and their international negotiating position align.

There's been a great interest in the people with whom I've met in the detail of the Australian
scheme and obviously we're very happy to share our experiences.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You say that the Government has a clear imperative to find a way to make
Australia's economy rely less on greenhouse emissions.

But business is arguing that it's going to cost them $8-billion in the first year and $13-billion a
year after that.

Do you accept that that is the cost of an emissions trading scheme to business?

PENNY WONG: Well, it depends what the carbon price will be.

But let's remember, the Government has put in place a very substantial set of assistance to
Australian business to enable them to adjust to the introduction of the scheme.

And let's also remember this: that climate change is with us.

If we simply defer action on climate change, if we simply refuse to start transforming our economy,
what we are doing is increasing costs and we are handballing this problem to the next generation to
deal with.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: In addition to the assistance you've already promised, the Australian Industry
Group wants to be able to claim all capital expenditure on investments that cut greenhouse
emissions over the first half of their effective life, rather than the total period.

Are you willing to fast-track that write-off?

PENNY WONG: Well look, these are policy ideas that are being put forward by some aspects of
Australian business.

We'll certainly consider what they're putting to us.

There is the capacity in the assistance the Government's already constructed - that is, the Climate
Change Action Fund - to assist with the retooling that will be required, the investment in new
equipment, and in more energy efficient technologies.

But let's also remember this: that we have to ensure that we also help Australian households, and
that there are a lot of calls for assistance from the Government as we move to introduce the
scheme.

We've made decisions about the proportion of assistance, bearing in mind the need not only to help
business, but also to help Australian households.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Is it a reasonable request from the Australian Industry Group?

PENNY WONG: Well, as I said, we'll consider what the Australian Industry Group have put to us.

I again say, we've already put in place, in the Government scheme, assistance to industry for this
sort of investment.

ELEANOR HALL: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong speaking to Alexandra Kirk.