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Penny Wong discusses emisssions trading confl -

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TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong joined us earlier this evening
from Paris.

Penny Wong, thanks for being there.

PENNY WONG, CLIMATE CHANGE MINISTER: Good to speak with you.

TONY JONES: Has your emissions trading scheme effectively been killed off today.

PENNY WONG: Well what has occurred today is an extraordinary act of weakness, an act of surrender
by Malcolm Turnbull, surrendering to the climate change sceptics in his own party room. He went
into the party room and he came out with yet another delay, yet another deferral. This is a man who
used to believe that action on climate change was important. And what we've seen today is that
Malcolm Turnbull has rolled over to the climate change sceptics in the Liberal party room, the same
people who ensured that this country did nothing on climate change for almost 12 years.

TONY JONES: I'll come to that in more detail in a moment. But the Greens Senator Christine Milne
says delay is death for this scheme. Has the scheme been killed off?

PENNY WONG: Well it is disappointing that the Greens have taken the position they have taken. But
look, can I say this - every member of the Federal Parliament, every senator is going to have to
decide when this legislation comes forward. Whether they want to go to the Australian people, to
the people who elected them and say, "I voted down action on climate change. I voted against a plan
to reduce Australia's emissions," because that is what is at stake here. And what we need is Mr
Turnbull and others to look to the national interest, because it is clearly in Australia's national
interest to pass this legislation.

TONY JONES: Well you made the point yourself, it's not only the Coalition, it's all the crossbench
senators who say they'll vote "No" if you put this up in June. They're all asking you to delay,
some for a lesser time. Senator Xenophon says he wants you to delay till August. So, will you
countenance any delay at all, or will you definitely put this through in for a vote in the Senate
in June?

PENNY WONG: Look, our plan that we announced quite some time ago, Tony, is that we would put the
legislation up. It's currently in the House of Representatives. And our timetable is to put this
legislation into the Senate in June. We believe it is important for two reasons that this be passed
as soon as is possible. The first is we need to give business certainty. We know that we need
billions of investment to make the sort of change we need to transform our economy. The longer we
delay, the longer we prevent giving business that certainty, the longer we will - the longer we
delay that investment. The second reason is the momentum to the international negotiations. I mean,
I'm here at the next round of President Obama's meetings here today in Paris. Essentially what Mr
Turnbull seems to be wanting me to do is to go into that room and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, those on the
other side of the Parliament are too weak to stand up to the sceptics in their party room, and they
want, yet again, to delay."

TONY JONES: Well Malcolm Turnbull is - yes, he's calling for a delay, but says he wants to find out
what the rest of the world is planning to do. Why do you need a detailed carbon trading scheme in
place before the Copenhagen meeting, provided you've got broad agreement on targets?

PENNY WONG: The key issue is business certainty, and the second issue is to provide momentum to the
negotiations. But I just want to make this point: Mr Turnbull's position less than a year ago was
that he didn't believe we should wait for the rest of the world. He said that his position of
support for emissions trading was not conditional upon international action. And that's because he
understood that if Australia is going to move, we have to get on with it. We know, eventually, the
world is gonna move to a global carbon constraint. We need to get on with transforming our economy,
with making the investments in renewable energy, in clean technology that we know we'll need to
compete in that world. Mr Turnbull knows that's right. He's changed his position because he's
unable to control the sceptics in his party room. This is simply an act of weakness by Malcolm
Turnbull.

TONY JONES: OK, but you're about to negotiate with Obama's people. Now President Obama and his team
will also go to Copenhagen without an effective national carbon trading scheme. The Chinese - big
polluters like the Chinese and the Indians will also go to Copenhagen without a detailed carbon
trading scheme. Why should Australia be different to them?

PENNY WONG: Well, look, as you know, what is happening in the United States is that legislation has
now come out of committee and is in Congress. The Waxman bill, which does set out a trading scheme
very similar to the carbon pollution reduction scheme. So we know action is occurring. We know
China is making a range of steps. It's taking a lot of regulatory action, a lot of energy
efficiency action, a lot of investment. But this is the key issue: will Mr Turnbull say that his
position will somehow change if legislation is passed in the United States. Will he then stand up
to the sceptics in his party room? The fact is Malcolm Turnbull knows, because he's previously said
it, that it is the right thing to do for Australia to get on with the job of building the renewable
energies, the clean technologies that we need as the world moves to a global carbon constraint. The
fact is he's changed his position because he's unable to the get the majority in his own party
room.

TONY JONES: OK. How about you, though? Are you prepared to go back to the drawing board to try and
get a scheme that has broader support?

PENNY WONG: Well, look, Tony, let's remember how long Australia has been looking at this issue. The
first report to the Howard Government on emissions trading was about 10 years ago. We know that
Prime Minister Howard commissioned Mr Shergold to look at the issue, and Prime Minister Howard's
own advice was that we shouldn't wait for the rest of the world, that we needed to move. We have
had a green paper, a white paper, exhaustive consultation on an election commitment which was
clear. What we do know is that this delay is about Opposition to the scheme. And you need to look
no further than that to look at Barnaby Joyce, who came out today and said, "This delay" - he
deemed it as a vote against the scheme. He deemed this opposition to the scheme. So, out of the
mouths of Coalition members themselves we see the truth of Mr Turnbull's position. He has people in
his party room who want to oppose this, and they don't want action on climate change. They never
have and they never will.

TONY JONES: OK, but the big questions that have been raised about your scheme, your emissions
trading scheme are about the burden on some sections of industry, and also about the effect on jobs
in the global financial crisis in particular. Here's a question: why not put it before the
Productivity Commission as the Opposition is calling for?

PENNY WONG: Can I say first on the issue of assistance to Australian industry, we've also been
criticised by others for providing too much assistance. We've said very clearly, "This assistance
has been crafted after detailed consultation - detailed consultation with Australian industry from
last year and this year." We have made a number of changes to recognise the global economic
situation, including providing additional assistance. So we have crafted this very carefully. The
reality is the reason Malcolm Turnbull wants to put this to the Productivity Commission, yet
another inquiry, yet another delay, is because he is unable to convince those who simply don't
believe climate change is real, who prevented action on this issue when Malcolm Turnbull was the
Environment Minister, and they are playing the same game today.

TONY JONES: OK. Let's go back to the politics of this. If you put this up for a vote in June into
the Senate, it'll be blocked. The next chance you'll have to do that is in October. That will give
you a double dissolution trigger. Is it a potent double dissolution trigger?

PENNY WONG: Well, can I say this: it's very clear to us as the Government that the Australian
people want action on climate change. They made that clear at the last election. That continues to
consistently be the message I hear and other members of the Government hear. And can I say, I
suspect it's probably also the message that Mr Turnbull hears, because he's anxious to try and
pretend that he does care about this issue and that he's not simply walking away from it.
Unfortunately, his position doesn't bear up to scrutiny.

TONY JONES: So, how do you think an election with global warming as its trigger, and the
environmental trading scheme as its trigger, and a key election issue, would go?

PENNY WONG: Well, all I would say is this: we will continue to campaign as the Government on this
scheme, on climate change, on action on climate change because we believe this is the right thing
to do. It's the right thing to do for our economy and it is absolutely the right thing to do for
our children and grandchildren. We simply cannot keep ducking this issue.

TONY JONES: You don't deny that this would be a potent double dissolution trigger. Is that what
you're saying?

PENNY WONG: What I'm saying - well, I'm gonna leave the commentary on, you know, the politics of
that to you, Tony. But I'll say this: we are determined to act on climate change. We made a
commitment to the Australian people. We believe it's in the national interest to act and we will
press on with this scheme. And every member of the Australian Parliament will have to decide
whether they want to go to the people who elected them and say, "I voted down action on climate
change. I had an opportunity, for the first time in this nation's history, to do something about
climate change, and I squibbed it."

TONY JONES: OK. Well, once again, I'll just press that question: would you welcome a chance to put
this to the voters? Because if it is a double dissolution trigger, it would be a virtual referendum
on your emissions trading scheme and also on climate change.

PENNY WONG: Well, look - well, Tony, let's - a week is a long time in politics, and as we've seen
already from Mr Turnbull's changes in position, his opportunist shifting in position, there's a lot
of change on this issue from a number of players and a number of parties. We're going to press on
with this. We'll be pressing on with the legislation. This is a vote that will come on and all
Senators, all Members of Parliament, will have to make clear to the Australian people where they
stand on climate change.

TONY JONES: OK, but just going back to what I said before, if it gets voted down in June, it'll go
back in October. Is that correct?

PENNY WONG: Oh, look, I'm not going to speculate about votes and timetables, Tony. I'll leave that
to others. I can tell you what the Government's position is. The Government's position is we have
legislation which is sound, legislation which will effectively, efficiently address the issue of
climate change, respond to climate change and transform our economy, drive the investment in
renewable energy, in clean technology in those jobs of the future. We'll press on with that. And
what we are saying to the Opposition and to all senators is this is the time to look to the
national interest, this is the time to act on climate change.

TONY JONES: One last question, then, before we go: do you think voters would understand the
emissions trading scheme in its detail if it ended up being a key election issue?

PENNY WONG: Look, I think the Australian people have made clear that they understand that climate
change is real. They have made clear they understand the threat that climate change poses to our
way of life, to our economy, to jobs and to future generations, as well as to our environment.
Australians understand that. I meet more sceptics in the Parliament on the Opposition crossbenches
than I meet out there talking to Australians. Australians are clear that they want action on
climate change and they're also clear that the Government should do what we were elected to do.
This is a very clear commitment, a commitment that we made to the Australian people, a commitment
Malcolm Turnbull used to share. Unfortunately, he has not had the strength nor courage to stand up
to those in his party room who don't want to do anything, who don't believe climate change is real.

TONY JONES: OK, Penny Wong, we'll have to leave you there in Paris to get on with your range of
meetings today. We thank you very much for coming to join us.

PENNY WONG: Good to speak with you, Tony.