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Government vows to pass climate change scheme -

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Reporter: Emma Griffiths

PETER CAVE: The Senate debate on the Government's scheme to tackle climate change is drawing close
and with every day the Government is being squeezed harder and harder by forces on all sides of the
political spectrum.

The Opposition says it has new evidence that the scheme is deeply flawed, it will hurt industry and
cost jobs and may not be the best way of cutting carbon pollution anyway. And the Greens say the
Government's scheme is economic lunacy because it won't do enough.

The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is fighting on. She says the Government is still determined
to get its plan through the Senate this winter.

From Canberra, Emma Griffiths reports.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Centre for International Economics is the latest group to issue a report on the
Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme. Its review was commissioned by the Opposition and
the findings have convinced the Coalition that the Government's plan is not the way to go.

It's concluded that the scheme potentially threatens the balance sheets in a number of key
industries and that there's no clear evidence that the Government's proposal is the best solution.

Opposition spokesman Andrew Robb.

ANDREW ROBB: This report is a wake-up call for the Federal Government. This report establishes very
clearly that the Government has got serious work to do to fix this deeply flawed scheme that
they've put in place.

No-one is saying it's all or nothing. What we're saying is go around back and do the work, fix up
the flaws. Do not put in jeopardy tens of thousands of Australian jobs.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: As the Opposition released that report the Greens hit back on another front.
They're fighting off Government accusations that they've dealt themselves out of the debate by
insisting on unachievable goals.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet said yesterday that the Greens' argument
for a 40 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 was economic lunacy. The Greens Senator Christine Milne
says the major parties are lining up with the big polluters.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well the economic lunacy is to stop Australia being competitive when the recession
ends. That is economic lunacy and that is where both Greg Combet and Kevin Rudd and the Coalition
want to take Australia.

So this is really a choice: old economy, new economy; a safe climate or climate chaos with much
higher costs in human life, in ecosystems, in jobs, in everything.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Treasury officials have been drawn into the battle, questioned at a Senate
committee set up by both the Greens and the Opposition.

Meghan Quinn from the Treasury's climate change modelling unit told the committee that under the
scheme pay packets will be held back.

MEGHAN QUINN: Just looking at mitigation costs alone, that an increase in, introduction of an
emission price in Australia will ultimately reduce Australian GDP slightly and would reduce real
wages as a consequence.

MALE: By how much?

MEGHAN QUINN: So over 2020 the reduction is around 3 per cent for the CPRS (Carbon Pollution
Reduction Scheme), -5, -15 and Garnaut -10 and it's slightly more for the Garnaut 25.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: For the Government the degree of difficulty in having its scheme passed grows by
the day but so far there's no sign of it bending, let alone backing down. A deal with the Greens
looks unlikely, leaving the Opposition as the Government's only hope.

The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says Malcolm Turnbull must release the Coalition's policy
but in the end the Government's scheme has to pass.

PENNY WONG: Last month was the 10th anniversary of the first report to the Howard government on
emissions trading. This has been an issue that has been discussed for a number of years in
Australia.

It is a complex issue which is why the Government has gone through such a consultative process with
industry as well as with the community. So we have been very mindful that this is a whole of
economy reform, a reform that is in the national interest.

We would welcome the Opposition actually putting up a clear policy on this issue but at the moment
all we have is a further set of excuses for delay because we know that the Liberal Party room is
completely divided on this issue.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Well when they do come up with their policy and they say that that will be coming
out in the next few weeks, will it be make or break on your scheme?

PENNY WONG: Well as I have said, we will talk to all parties but the prerequisite for talking to
the Opposition is the Opposition coming forward with a credible and coherent plan. From what we
have seen, what they have said publicly, they have continued to delay, they have continued to not
put forward their views in any coherent manner on this issue.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Will you be insisting on the timing of bringing in this scheme to have it dealt
with by the Senate before Parliament rises in June?

PENNY WONG: We have made clear that we will be introducing this bill into the winter session. We
know that the Senate will want to consider this in detail. That's why we've already put the draft
legislation before a Senate committee. We will be introducing it when we said we would.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Do you foresee that it may take longer than you would hope?

PENNY WONG: Well obviously the Government doesn't control the Senate. That's self evident and I
think there have been a few fairly high profile examples of that already since we won government.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: How do you judge your chances of getting this scheme up and running?

PENNY WONG: All I can say is that we are determined to act in the national interest and the
national interest means that we are determined to get this legislation through.

PETER CAVE: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong ending that report from Emma Griffiths.