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Greiner warns on Lib climate-change position -

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ELEANOR HALL: Joining us now with his perspective on the state of the Federal Liberal Party is the
former Liberal premier of New South Wales, Nick Greiner.

Mr Greiner has been advising Joe Hockey not to take the leadership under these circumstances. He's
been listening to the latest from Canberra and he joins us now in Sydney.

Mr Greiner, thanks so much for being there.

NICK GREINER: My pleasure.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we've been hearing there from our correspondent in Canberra that there is talk of
some sort of a compromise on climate change policy. Do you have any inside knowledge about that and
if there is a strengthening of the Liberal's climate change policy, would you then advise Joe
Hockey to stand?

NICK GREINER: Well, I have no inside knowledge I am happy to say. Well, I think it goes to the
point, the only point, the only reason for me saying anything and I said not much in 18 years on
federal Liberal issues, is that I think this is actually about the fundamental issue for the future
of the party.

The notion that you can change leaders in order to produce a denial policy, a policy that flies in
the face of clear public perception around the world, in other words one that says it is all a
left-wing conspiracy, we should do nothing. That seems to me to be a nonsense and for Joe to lead
on that basis is, I think, quicksand so I am delighted to hear from Lyndal that there are
apparently moves to, well to create a compromise which at the end of the day, it is not about the
three-month delay.

Look, frankly that has been a, that is a frolic of the Prime Minister's. No-one cares when
Australia passes this legislation but the notion that the Libs in 2010 don't have a sensible
climate change policy seems to me to be totally unacceptable.

So sure, if Joe can take, if anyone can take the leadership on their own terms, I mean that is a
totally different proposition to taking it on terms dictated by a minority of the party.

ELEANOR HALL: Is it still a danger for Joe Hockey though if he were to take the leadership that he
could be painted as having been manoeuvred into that position by climate change sceptics?

NICK GREINER: Well, I guess that is perhaps the graftment of my concern and I notice John Hewson,
bit sad if John Hewson and I agree but anyway, John Hewson has said something similar this morning.

I think that is the concern. I mean Joe is clearly highly talented, he is clearly going to be
leader of the party, probably tomorrow, but sometime but you do need to take leadership on with a,
well, you can't sell your soul.

You have to take it on your own terms, in my view, and I think that is presumably what the things
Lyndal was saying are trying to address so I think for Joe simply to run involves significant
compromise on his part presumably to create unity.

I do think on the substance, the notion that we are one out and you know, the Queen, the Pope and
every serious government in the world is on one side and the Liberal Party and Australia is on the
other side, is just bizarre so it doesn't matter whether you're... I mean I am a sceptic on the
science. I am a sceptic on the ETS.

The reality is, this is a 50-year issue and the ETS will change over time, the science will change
over time. There is a whole bunch of regulations that are going to have to be attached to the ETS
when it is eventually passed in Australia, as it will be.

So of course things are going to change. Of course this is all imperfect but I think my only point
is the Liberal Party cannot be other than a mainstream party and when the mainstream has clearly
gone past the tipping point on the desire to have a sensible approach to climate change, we just
need to fit into a sensible approach.

ELEANOR HALL: Can you see though at this stage, with the state of the party as it is now, a
compromise coming up that would allow Joe Hockey to stand as you say, and not sell his soul?

NICK GREINER: Well, I certainly hope so. I very much hope so because otherwise, frankly, I think
there is a danger of burning him and you know, the party has managed one way or another, to burn
off John Howard, Peter Costello, Brendan Nelson.

Talking about doing it to Malcolm Turnbull and there is a danger with Joe Hockey so the notion that
you can go through that much talent in a couple of years, well, I don't know that too many people
think there is that much more talent to go around.

ELEANOR HALL: Doesn't look like a party that is in the mood for compromise either?

NICK GREINER: Well, no I guess that is what you would guess from some of public posturing but I
think it is worth making the point that I did make in the Herald this morning which is that you
haven't found a single Liberal marginal seat holder who wants to join the anti-climate change if
you like lobby because they all know that in metropolitan areas round Australia which is where the
marginal seats mostly are, public opinion is clear - not on the detail but on the fact that they
want something to be done.

I think all of the polls, all of the evidence is that way and you know, you... I think it is
instructive that all the people whose political skin's on the line whenever there is an election -
and incidentally I suspect it will be full term rather than sooner - all those people where it
really counts for themselves, none of them are in the rebel camp - not one.

NICK GREINER: So who do you blame for the mess the Liberal Party is in?

NICK GREINER: Oh, not for me. I mean as I say, I generally don't comment on these things. I think
you can't just sheet home blame to one or other. I think the truth is parties are collections of
very strong-willed individuals and they generally have to manage their affairs or in a sense muddle
though if you like.

They are not a company they are a political party and so it is a bit of a muddle-through situation
but certainly I don't think the Liberal Party as a whole can take great credit for the position it
is in at the moment.

ELEANOR HALL: You have talked about troglodytes in the party. Are there many?

NICK GREINER: I really don't know. I'm not close to it. I certainly think the view that says this
is a left-wing conspiracy is an absolute troglodyte view and I think Nick Minchin is a talented
guy. I think that is one of the more stupid comments I have ever heard a senior politician make.

I mean, the notion that that group, I mean the left-wing conspiracy includes the conservative
leaders of Germany and France and the Pope and the Queen - all those well known lefties is really
just stupid.

So you can have doubts about the science, you can have doubts about the remedy. I absolutely accept
that and share some of that but you can't have doubts about the requirement for Australia to go
with the world and Blind Freddy can see what is going to happen.

There is going to be an ETS through the course of 2010 so of course, Australia doesn't need to be
early. That is really just something for the Prime Minister's ego but it certainly does need to be
there. It cannot be a standout against, in a sense; the views of the globe that people want to pay
an insurance premium on this even though they are not sure of the details.

ELEANOR HALL: So do you agree with Malcolm Turnbull that the Liberal Party would be wiped out in an
election on climate change if it doesn't back and emissions trading scheme of some sort.

NICK GREINER: Well, absolutely in the sense that if there isn't and let's call is a compromise, in
other words if the Liberal Party doesn't have what is a credible pro-climate-change position. In
other words a position that says regardless of the detail of the science and the detail of the ETS,
we have a credible, positive, do-something approach as opposed to a negative, reactionary,
do-nothing approach.

If we got with a negative approach, last time around the Libs had an ETS policy, but they hadn't
signed Kyoto which was frankly just symbolic, but I think that simple failure to do that symbolic
act, I think cost the Liberal Party heavily so yeah, I think it is apparent that being in the camp
that says this is all sort of left-wing nonsense is not a plausible place from which the Liberal
Party can fight an election.

ELEANOR HALL: Mr Greiner, we do just have some news from Canberra. Would you like to stay on the
line there while we cross back?

NICK GREINER: Yeah, sure.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis, what do we know?

LYNDAL CURTIS: Well, we know that Joe Hockey is now in Malcolm Turnbull's office. He made the walk,
took the short walk there a few minutes ago. He has gone into his leader's office. He had said, as
I said before that he would tell his leader first of his decision so that is happening now and we
gather that the two men are alone in that meeting.

ELEANOR HALL: And Lyndal, any more news on the shape of that compromise that he may or may not have
nutted out?

LYNDAL CURTIS: No, not yet but it does seem that if he has taken the decision to stand for the
leadership that he may well have found a compromise that he is happy with but all these things will
be revealed in the fullness of time.

ELEANOR HALL: Lyndal Curtis, our chief political correspondent in Canberra, there. Thank you.

Back to you Nick Greiner, if it is a Joe Hockey/Malcolm Turnbull contest, who do you think people
should back?

NICK GREINER: Oh no. I'm not part of that. The party room, not very good at taking advice. I think
they are both very, very capable people but no, I'm not getting into that.

ELEANOR HALL: Can I ask you, what do you think Malcolm Turnbull would do if he loses? He won't be
content to sit on the backbench, will he?

NICK GREINER: I really don't... It would be an interesting question. I really have no idea at all.
I mean I am supporter of both Malcolm and Joe's and I have been in both cases. I really don't know
what Malcolm would do.

ELEANOR HALL: Mr Greiner thanks very much for joining us.

NICK GREINER: It is a pleasure, bye bye.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the former Liberal premier of New South Wales, Nick Greiner, there.