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Oppn polls apart, but Govt digs its own hole -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Canberra now where the Opposition's defence of its emissions trading modelling has
received unexpected backing from independent and Green senators.

This morning, the Government opened up a new line of attack on Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull
in the very area that's causing him so much political pain. The Treasurer Wayne Swan says the
Treasury has identified a big funding hole in the Coalition's emissions trading position.

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The spectre of a big black hole is something all politicians try to avoid. It's a
potent piece of ammunition if proven correct. The Treasurer Wayne Swan reckons there's a gaping
hole in the Opposition's emissions trading proposals.

WAYNE SWAN: And the Treasury analysis of Malcolm Turnbull's proposal reveals a $3.2 billion black
hole in the proposal that he has put forward with Frontier Economics. Frankly, it is about time the
Liberal and National parties got their act together and put forward some realistic amendments that
don't cost the country billions of dollars and reflect the need to deal with dangerous climate
change.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Given the Government prefers to negotiate climate change with the Coalition, rather
than the Greens, the accusation is aimed at getting an early upper hand.

WAYNE SWAN: Well, it is hard to figure out what the Opposition is doing because essentially they
are populated by climate change dinosaurs. There is just chaos and confusion in the Liberal Party
when it comes to this very serious issue.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the Opposition rejects the claim. Climate change spokesman Ian Macfarlane says
the Frontier Economics modelling doesn't form the basis for the Coalition's ETS proposal.

IAN MACFARLANE: Well, we haven't finalised our policy so I am not sure what Wayne Swan thinks he is
talking about. I mean the reality is that we are having difficulty finalising the policy on the
CPRS amendments in relation to electricity because the Government is hiding some crucial modelling
that they have done through Morgan Stanley.

We understand that that report will show that there is a threefold deficit in the amount of
compensation needed to keep the electricity industry viable so if there is anyone who has a black
hole in their proposal, it is Wayne Swan.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government's claim doesn't hold any water for Independent Senator Nick
Xenophon.

NICK XENOPHON: Bizarre. Unfounded claims that the scheme is under cost by $3.2 billion. Treasury
has put two and two together and come up with total confusion. The Frontier scheme doesn't need to
provide the same level of compensation as the Government scheme because the Frontier scheme doesn't
damage the economy like the Government scheme does.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Greens leader senator Bob Brown isn't taking any notice either. He's focused on
trying to green up Kevin Rudd's carbon trading scheme. This morning he sent the Government 22
amendments - getting in a week ahead of the Coalition.

BOB BROWN: The black hole argument is going to be a political point scoring debate between the
Government and the Opposition. We are into debate about a $3 billion black hole that is not going
to be taken on by the Government anyway whereas the real debate is about the $16.5 billion that the
Government intends giving to the big polluters rather than to the Australian community as the
Greens want to see happen to get us into renewable energy.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The black hole accusation is just another obstacle Malcolm Turnbull has to deal
with on a subject that keeps generating massive problems for him.

The hardheads in the West Australian Liberal Party - the biggest bloc of renegade backbenchers -
have given Malcolm Turnbull a reprieve - of sorts. Over the weekend they shifted from opposing any
Coalition negotiations with the Government to negotiating is OK, but no deal should be struck until
after the December Copenhagen climate summit. The Government's pushing for a Senate vote next
month.

Malcolm Turnbull dearly wants all the leadership speculation to end, but two polls out today have
reignited the discussion. Newspoll has Mr Turnbull eight points in front of the man some have
sounded out as the next leader - Joe Hockey.

But the Nielsen poll gives it narrowly to Mr Hockey. Both pollsters say the difference may be due
to the question posed. Nielsen asking who do voters prefer as leader, versus Newspoll's who do you
think would be the best leader.

Nielsen pollster John Stirton says Mr Hockey's narrow lead has been consistent in his poll since
June and the big picture hasn't changed either.

JOHN STIRTON: Well, Malcolm Turnbull is still struggling with a 35 per cent approval rating and a
53 per cent disapproval rating. So that is the same sort of numbers that Brendan Nelson had when he
was rolled. It is the same sort of numbers Simon Crean had when he was rolled.

So Malcolm Turnbull is still in trouble and the Coalition is still well behind - 57 to 43 - on a
two party preferred basis. That would see the Coalition going backwards at an election.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And that's something on which both polls agree.

ELEANOR HALL: Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.