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Tide turns for Turnbull, but Abbott keeps a b -

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PETER CAVE: Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull woke this morning to the good news that not only
does he not have Peter Costello breathing down his neck but that the Coalition appears to be
closing the gap on Labor in public opinion.

As the Opposition takes stock of that, the Government is trying to convince crossbench senators to
back its emissions trading scheme.

But after convincing the Family First Senator Steve Fielding that solar activity isn't the main
factor driving climate change, he's now posed more questions he says the Government needs to answer
before he makes up his mind.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Malcolm Turnbull's keeping a low profile for now, allowing the dust to settle with
Peter Costello bowing out of federal politics.

Coalition MPs are full of glowing tributes for the man who has decided his time has passed, leaving
without ever having taken a tilt at the top job.

TONY ABBOTT: Magnanimity is a rare thing in politics. Peter Costello is entitled to be thought of
as probably, in that sense at least, the Liberal Party's greatest servant; one of the most
magnanimous people ever to serve in Federal Parliament.

DENNIS JENSEN: I think it would be fair to say that he's probably the best prime minister that
Australia's never has as well.

GEORGE BRANDIS: I think we all feel a sense of loss today that Peter Costello has confirmed his
decision to retire from politics.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: George Brandis, a long time Costello supporter, says the former treasurer was
double crossed over the leadership, because the evidence suggests there was an agreement with John
Howard that wasn't honoured.

Tony Abbott disagrees.

TONY ABBOTT: Peter Costello never had the numbers. John Howard always did. Of course, had Peter
chosen a different course, he might have been able to accumulate the numbers but to his credit,
that is not what he did.

STUART ROBERT: It is both sad and liberating.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I don't think any team is relieved when one of their best players decides to
retire.

JAMIE BRIGGS: John Howard, Peter Costello and Alexander Downer have moved on. We've moved to
another generation and we'll see Malcolm Turnbull shine.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Tony Abbott doesn't disagree that Peter Costello's departure makes it easier for
Malcolm Turnbull on difficult issues, such as the emissions trading scheme.

TONY ABBOTT: All of those issues can now be discussed purely on their merits without any injection
of personalities that might otherwise have occurred.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Malcolm Turnbull's received a second bit of good news. Today's Newspoll shows
satisfaction with his performance is up four points to 44 per cent and the Coalition's narrowed the
gap to be just one point behind Labor on the primary vote. Tony Abbott thinks voters are starting
to get the message.

TONY ABBOTT: I think that people are finally figuring out that Kevin Rudd is really making it up as
he goes along. I mean, let's face it, once he was an old fashioned Christian socialist, then he was
never a socialist, then he was an economic conservative, now he reckons he is a social democrat.
This guy has no deep convictions on economics.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the unity fostered by Peter Costello's departure is not forever. Tony Abbott on
Fairfax Radio reminded his leader there are others who harbour leadership ambitions, albeit not
right now.

TONY ABBOTT: There is a team in place and it is a good team and that team's not got to be given the
best possible chance to win the next election and I think what Peter did yesterday will make that
more likely.

INTERVIEWER: Final question Mr Abbott, are you now 100 per cent sure that Malcolm Turnbull will
lead the Liberals to the next election?

TONY ABBOTT: Absolutely, I am.

INTERVIEWER: And do you still have leadership aspirations down the track?

TONY ABBOTT: Oh, down the track but a long, long way down the track.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: While the Coalition ponders its position on Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme,
Family First Senator Steve Fielding is still mulling over where he stands. His earlier concerns
that solar rather than human activity might be driving climate change have been dispelled, after
meeting government climate scientists yesterday. He's now focussing on ocean temperatures.

STEVE FIELDING: Yesterday's meeting with the chief scientist and Professor Steffen, they outlined
that they are using a different temperature measure, which is ocean temperature. Now that is
something we are going to have to look at because that is something that the IPCC wasn't using to
prove that carbon emissions were driving up global temperatures.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Professor Will Steffen, the head of the Australian National University's
Climate Change Institute, says sea temperatures are a very good guide to global warming.

WILL STEFFEN: It is an important complimentary measure because as the earth's surface warms up, as
a result primarily of greenhouse gases, that heat is going into various parts of the earth's
surface. The air is an important one because we live in it but in fact more of the heat goes into
the ocean.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And how much has it warmed?

WILL STEFFEN: It has warmed by about 14 times 10 to the 22nd joules - it's the energy unit that we
use.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Professor Steffen, who attended yesterday's meeting with Senator Fielding, says
that equates to 0.1 of a degree centigrade rise between 1961 and 2003. He says it's quite
impressive, given that oceans cover 70 per cent of the Earth's surface and water has a very high
heat capacity.

Do you say that if you look at sea temperatures, that you come to the conclusion, without any
doubt, that human activity is causing global warming?

WILL STEFFEN: We can't find any other explanation.

PETER CAVE: Professor Will Steffen from the ANU Climate Change Institute ending that report from
Alexandra Kirk.