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Combet outlines new climate, defence roles -

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Combet outlines new climate, defence roles

The World Today - Tuesday, 9 June , 2009 12:26:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: The new minister assisting the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, says the
Government will do all it can to address the issues raised by Family First Senator Steve Fielding.

Senator Fielding has returned from a fact finding visit to the United States where he heard that
some scientists blame global warming on solar flares - instead of human activity or carbon

He says he wants to discuss the cause of climate change with government scientists before voting on
Kevin Rudd's scheme.

Greg Combet spoke to Alexandra Kirk a short time ago.

GREG COMBET: One thing that we are determined about that shouldn't be underestimated though is to
get this CPRS through because we do accept the science. We believe that action does need to be
taken internationally. We, as a government, is determined to take a strong role in the
international negotiations at the end of this year in Copenhagen and as part of that, we're
determined to legislate the carbon pollution reduction scheme.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you think Senator Fielding's contribution takes the debate forward?

GREG COMBET: Oh, I wouldn't comment upon it in that form but he is entitled to seek whatever advice
that he likes to inform himself but the Government will sit down with him and go through the

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Senator Fielding says he wants access to government scientists to give them the
information that he has garnered from the United States visit and discuss his concerns before he
will be able to vote on an emissions trading scheme. Do you think it would be beneficial for
Australia's chief scientist, Professor Penny Sackett, to speak to him for example?

GREG COMBET: Well, we are in the political realm here at the moment and so the Government will talk
to Senator Fielding but we will endeavour to do what we can to address issues that he raises.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Professor Sackett says the cause of climate change is not in dispute, that all the
scientific research that has been done for the past couple of decades takes the effect of solar
activity into account and that human activity is the biggest contributor to global warming so do
you think her views would be to ...

GREG COMBET: Well, of course they're important. They have been one of the bases of course for the
Government developing the policy position that we have but, you know, in the first instance we are
talking about how we can get our carbon pollution reduction scheme legislation through the Senate.

We will be talking to the non-government senators who wish to come to the table and discuss the
issues and providing whatever advice we can to address their concerns and I think that is a proper
context in which dialogue with Senator Fielding should be seen.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So will you give Senator Fielding access for example to Professor Sackett?

GREG COMBET: Well, we don't discuss these things through the media, with all due respect. You know
we will sit down with Senator Fielding and go through the issues. That is important, of course,
that Senator Fielding has the opportunity to inform himself of the issues but the science is in on
this issue from the Government's standpoint.

You know, global warming is a reality. Australia has a lot to lose from climate change.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Are you confident that you can convince Senator Fielding to support the
Government's emissions trading scheme?

GREG COMBET: Well, we shall wait and see but what I can say is that the Government is very
determined to see this through.

You know, this is the greatest environmental reform that any Australian government has endeavoured
to undertake. We're determined to see this through, get the legislation through and play our part
internationally, hopefully in an agreement that will emerge from the Copenhagen conference in
December this year.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You've been sworn in as a minister today and as well as ministerial responsibility
for climate change, you are also Minister for Defence Personnel. Is your job in the first instance,
do you think, to mend fences with the Defence hierarchy now that the former defence minister Joel
Fitzgibbons resigned?

GREG COMBET: Well, Senator Faulkner, the new Minister for Defence, and myself have as our very
first and most immediate priority is the establishment of confidence in the relationship between
the Government and the Defence leadership because at the end of the day we will need to be working
very closely together to get the best outcome and provide the best support for members of the ADF.

And of course, we've got members of the ADF in very difficult theatres such as Afghanistan at the
moment and we want the best support for them and their families and that's what we will be working
to achieve and the starting point is to make sure that the Government and the Defence leadership
are on the same page with the same objectives and that there's a strong positive relationship
between us and we are getting on with the job.

PETER CAVE: And that of course was Greg Combet, the new Minister of Defence, Science and Personnel,
also the new minister assisting the Minister for Climate Change.