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Time squeezed for Senate's carbon scheme deba -

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Time squeezed for Senate's carbon scheme debate

Lyndal Curtis reported this story on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: While it fends off attacks over its handling of asylum seekers, the Federal
Government is also negotiating with the Coalition on its emissions trading legislation.

If a deal is to be done, it will need to be sealed by the end of the week.

But then Malcolm Turnbull will need to take it through the possibly even more fraught process of a
Coalition vote and then it still needs to get through the Senate.

Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis has our report.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Winning votes over - one vote at a time.

TONY WINDSOR: I voted against the CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) back in May. I voted
against it last night but I made the commitment to the Minister last night that if agriculture was
to be exempted in the Senate, that I would be supportive of the legislation.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Government's decision to exclude agriculture has got the backing of the
Independent MP Tony Windsor who believes it also means the Nationals have lost their last excuse
for opposing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

TONY WINDSOR: I think the National Party have lost their logic, their argument in terms of this.
The Government and the Liberal Party are making an offer here. They are saying we want agriculture
exempted. I think that is too good an opportunity to miss.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The National's Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce thinks not.

BARNABY JOYCE: But agriculture isn't out. This is the whole point. It is still on fertiliser. It is
still on steel posts. It is still on electricity. It is still on wire. It is still on transport in.
At the other side, it will still be on the abattoir, it will still be on the dairy processing, it
will still be on the wheat processing, wheat milling. So agriculture is not out. Some of
agriculture which was never in is out.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And the Government is still a long way from winning over all the Liberals. Western
Australian Liberal and staunch emissions trading scheme opponent Dennis Jensen says the idea of a
deal being done on the scheme fills him with dread.

DENNIS JENSEN: Yes it does and really it should be filling the Australian people with dread.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and the Coalition's climate change spokesman
Ian Macfarlane are keeping up their meetings, one last night and another one scheduled for today,
to try to strike a deal.

They're likely to meet every day this week, although Mr Macfarlane doesn't think a deal will be
done in the next few days.

IAN MACFARLANE: Well it won't be this week and obviously time is very short but there are a number
of issues that we have been working through. We have resolved some of those issues and we now have
to fill in the detail.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Coalition is working to a timetable that would see an agreement, if one is to be
struck, made at the end of this week or over the weekend - in time for it to go to the Shadow
Cabinet next Monday and either the regular party room meeting scheduled for next Tuesday or a
special one before that.

Mr Macfarlane is hoping the Government will make further compromises.

IAN MACFARLANE: Absolutely. I mean we are only just started. The agriculture one was hard fought
and easily dealt with once the logic of the fact that no other country in the world has included
agriculture was able to be made to the Minister but there are a number of other areas where the
same issue applies or where industry is far more exposed than some of our competitors.

So we'll be working through those issues over the next four or five days.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But he's willing to work within the Government's budget parameters, which show the
emissions trading scheme coming at a cost to taxpayers by 2020 rather than leaving a pot of money

IAN MACFARLANE: We are still working on the basis that we will not change the Government's bottom
line and we will protect industry and we will protect jobs in Australia.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The legislation for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will go into the Senate
today but before any deal is finalised the Coalition's Senate Leader Nick Minchin says not much
will be done.

NICK MINCHIN: So all we can do this week is go through the list of second reading speakers on the
basis of the bill before us and then next week we will make a decision about our final vote on the

LYNDAL CURTIS: What is going to happen first is a debate over scheduling, whether the CPRS
legislation is debated first or waits until the Senate is finished with the legislation making
changes to the Youth Allowance.

The Opposition is also baulking at the Government's proposals to sit extra hours to fit in all the
Senators who want to speak on the CPRS bill.

The Greens too aren't happy with the Government's proposal for extra sitting hours.

The Greens Leader Bob Brown has written twice to the Prime Minister, once in September and again
last month, to try to get extra sitting weeks but received only a response from the Senate Leader
Chris Evans proposing extra hours rather than extra days.

While he was willing to entertain an extra sitting week at the start of December in his
correspondence to Kevin Rudd, the Government response has made Senator Brown think twice about
agreeing to that option should it be proposed.

The Government has already raised the possibility of bringing the House of Representatives back for
that extra week. It can't command the Senate in the same way but if it does think an extra week is
needed, it believes the Senate wouldn't risk not turning up at the same time.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis in Canberra.