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Nationals Leader rejects talk of ETS amendmen -

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Nationals Leader rejects talk of ETS amendments

Emma Griffiths reported this story on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 12:22:00

PETER CAVE: The Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has been lying low this morning and has so far
let-slide a blistering attack from one of his own MPs - the Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey.

But not so the National Party Leader, Warren Truss. He's stepping up to back Mr Tuckey's stance
that the Government's emissions trading scheme should not be passed - even with Coalition
amendments.

Earlier this week, Mr Turnbull appeared to leave open the possibility of amending and then passing
the Government's scheme. Mr Tuckey says that's not what the Coalition party room agreed to do and
he's called his leader both arrogant and inexperienced.

The Nationals say there is no way they'll support the scheme, even if knocking it back gives Labor
a trigger for a double dissolution election.

Emma Griffiths reports from Canberra.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Government's plan to address climate change is set to go to a vote in the
Senate next month. The Liberal Party says it won't vote for the emissions trading scheme as it is,
but the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull hasn't ruled out attempting to amend the legislation and
then pass it.

That's triggered a spray from his own backbench. Wilson Tuckey has sent an email to his party room
colleagues attacking their leader and rejecting the ETS in any form. On ABC Local Radio in Brisbane
this morning, one member of the Liberal party room, the Queensland Senator George Brandis,
dismissed Mr Tuckey and any talk of division.

GEORGE BRANDIS: Just because Wilson Tuckey decides to send out an ill-tempered email and express it
in language so belligerent that it's bound to get a headline, that doesn't constitute a split in
the Liberal Party.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: And like Malcolm Turnbull, the deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop has spoken of
the need to change the laws too.

JULIE BISHOP: The question of the Government scheme will depend upon whether the Government listens
to the valid concerns from business who are warning that the scheme is flawed, and they've turned
to the Coalition to try and fix the Government's flawed scheme.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: It's not clear whether that means bringing on amendments this year or rejecting the
Government's legislation and announcing the Opposition's own version of a trading scheme.

What is crystal clear is the National Party's rejection of the current legislation. The Nationals
Leader Warren Truss says any amendments would have to amount to wholesale changes to the scheme
because, like Wilson Tuckey, he believes it's a job destroyer.

WARREN TRUSS: Well he raises concerns about any suggestions that there are amendments that can be
made to make this Labor CPRS scheme acceptable. The Nationals have said right from the beginning
that this scheme is unacceptable, that it would be very damaging for Australian industry, and it
won't deliver any environmental benefits, and so we remain opposed to Labor's CPRS.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: So if your Coalition partners, the Liberal Party, suggested some quite substantial
amendments to this legislation, is there anything they could do that would win over the National
Party votes on this?

WARREN TRUSS: Well it would have to be very, very substantially changed before the National Party
could even contemplate supporting an emissions trading scheme of this nature. We will not support a
scheme that costs Australian jobs, we won't support a scheme that delivers nothing for the
Australian environment and we won't support a scheme that is way out of kilter with what's
happening in the rest of the world.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been quick to point out that the Coalition's
division makes it impossible to negotiate over ETS, though the Opposition says it's never even had
an offer to sit down with the Government.

KEVIN RUDD: It's virtually impossible because you don't know where they're coming from, and it
changes all the time. We've got a responsibility and a mandate from the Australian people from the
last election to act on climate change.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Rejecting the scheme twice in the Senate would give the Government a substantial
trigger for a double dissolution election. Wilson Tuckey states in his email that he can think of
no better issue upon which to campaign. But given Malcolm Turnbull's poor polling, that's unlikely
to be an opinion shared by many of his colleagues.

It's irrelevant to Warren Truss who says the principle is more important than avoiding an early
poll.

WARREN TRUSS: We have principles, we have issues that we stand up for, and if we want the public to
support us in an election, whether it be a normal routine election in two years time, or some kind
of contrived double dissolution, then the public will want to be sure that we're standing up for
things and that we will deliver better outcomes for the country.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Senior Liberal sources have told the ABC that the Coalition will have a solid
position within the next few months. And they believe that their strategy of waiting to see what
the rest of the world does will eventually win over the electorate.

PETER CAVE: Emma Griffiths reporting.