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Wong dismisses Turnbull's latest emissions 'd -

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Wong dismisses Turnbull's latest emissions 'delay' tactic

The World Today - Thursday, 18 June , 2009 12:18:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government says it will provide key draft regulations before the Senate
starts debating emissions trading next week. It's responding to Malcolm Turnbull's insistence today
that the Opposition can't vote on the scheme if it hasn't seen any of the regulations.

The Coalition has had one victory - voting with the Greens and two other cross bench Senators for a
Senate inquiry on renewable energy targets. That's effectively stymied the Government's strategy to
tie those targets to the emissions trading scheme in a bid to force the Opposition to vote on
carbon trading.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The battle over Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme is turning into a competition
of tactics. The Government wants a Senate vote next week. The Opposition refuses to vote until next
year. The numbers are finely balanced. So far neither side has a majority to either force a vote or
a delay.

The Coalition's considering a tactic of filibustering, or endless debate, so the debate would have
to resume when parliament returns in mid-August, hoping to deny the Government the chance to
acquire the first half of a double dissolution trigger. Any move to delay the vote is taken as a
failure to pass, which the Opposition's seeking to avoid.

National's senate leader Barnaby Joyce is ready to vote against the carbon pollution reduction
scheme but is willing to back any filibuster strategy the Liberals might try.

BARNABY JOYCE: I hope so. Why? Because we want to try and delay any, the more information you get
on this current emissions trading scheme, the more you realise you are bringing about the
destruction of regional jobs. The whole point of this scheme is that it is a price mechanism.

Somebody, somewhere has to pay and you can bet your life it is the weakest person in the economy
and that is the person paying for the goods at the shop, the farmer who can't pass on the cost. It
is all the weak people in the economy who end up footing the bill and that is why it is so
blatantly unfair.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull argues the Senate can't vote on the legislation
until it's seen the regulations that set out assistance to emissions-intensive industries and that
the Government is yet to present them.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Mr Rudd is so arrogant that he is asking the Senate, demanding the Senate, give
him a blank cheque. He has not even told the Senators or any other Member of Parliament, the
industries affected, the workers whose jobs are at risk, how their industries will be treated. The
regulations are yet to appear.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong.

PENNY WONG: This is an Opposition that when confronted with a division within their party room,
their default position is to go for a further delay. We saw that today with their decision to delay
the vote on the renewable energy target and we see it again in the context of the carbon pollution
reduction scheme.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the argument that the Senate is being asked to vote on something where you
don't see the details of the regulations and how the Government plans to compensate
emissions-intensive industries, will you provide the Senate with the details of those regulations
which will drive the scheme?

PENNY WONG: We will provide key, we have always said we will provide key draft regulations in time
for the Senate debate but I again make this point, Mr Turnbull has had, I think this is his seventh
reason for delay. He now has another reason for delay. The only reason for delay is the Coalition's
division on the issue of climate change.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What about the Opposition's tactics which are to try to filibuster and that is,
keep on talking until the end of next week to the point where the Senate won't be able to take a
vote until say next August?

PENNY WONG: What an extraordinary proposition for the alternative government to put forward.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Is it an effective one though?

PENNY WONG: They would waste the time of the Parliament in order to avoid a vote on an issue of
such national importance as climate change. What an extraordinary display of irresponsibility by
the alternative government.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Not since 1991 has the Senate been involved in a true filibuster where the minority
party prolonged a debate hoping the majority would give in. Back then the government's legislation
on political broadcasts was passed after the Senate sat all night, though it was later found to be
unconstitutional by the High Court.

Sitting in the middle is Family First Senator Steve Fielding.

STEVE FIELDING: I am hoping that we get some really decent information but it may take some time to
go back and forward over the next couple of days before I come up with a final position.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: While Steve Fielding may know how he plans to vote before the Senate starts
debating emissions trading scheme, he hasn't said whether he's happy to vote next week. That leaves
him in the box seat.

The Government's attempt to link voting for its renewable energy target with the emissions trading
scheme has been foiled. Non-Labor senators accused the Government of being sneaky because while
they want to support the former they're faced with not being able to because most oppose the
latter. The renewable energy target's now been referred to a Senate inquiry until mid-August.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon reluctantly sided with the Coalition and Family First's Steve
Fielding.

NICK XENOPHON: I am reluctant to support it but I think there is no choice given that it is likely
that the CPRS legislation, in its current form will not pass or it will be substantially amended so
therefore, we need to have a stand-along RET (renewable energy target) scheme that will do the job
that we need to transform Australia from a high-carbon to low-carbon economy.

But I want to make it clear that RET legislation must be dealt with soon after the committee
reports on the 12th August if that is the will of the Senate and then we need to get on with it.

PETER CAVE: The independent Senator Nick Xenophon, ending that report by Alexandra Kirk.