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Combet defends spending on carbon tax ads -

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The Climate Change Minister will today be trying to convince workers at a coal-fired power plant
that the carbon tax is worth the pain. Other MPs will criss-cross the nation again this week to
sell their messages. At the same time the Government's $12 million television ad campaign began
last night.

TONY EASTLEY: The polling figures make Greg Combet's job even harder. The Climate Change Minister
will be today be trying to convince workers at a coal-fired power plant that the carbon tax is
worth the pain.

Other MPs will criss-cross the nation again this week to sell their respective messages.

At the same time the Government's $12 million television ad campaign began last night.

Mr Combet has spoken with chief political correspondent Sabra Lane about the ad campaign.

GREG COMBET: It is a relatively small amount of money committed to the advertising campaign when
you compare it to things that were done under the Howard government and particularly $120 million
for the WorkChoices campaign.

So this is a modest fact-based campaign that complies with the Government guidelines and which has
been ticked off by the Independent Communications Committee.

SABRA LANE: Twelve million dollars will be spent on this advertising campaign; there is another $13
million for a public information campaign. What is the difference?

GREG COMBET: Well, one is an advertising campaign; the $13 million is for public engagement
activities. That is the distribution of printed materials and working in partnership with other
organisations in the community to get the facts out to the broader community.

SABRA LANE: There has been a lot of free coverage on TV in the past week about the carbon tax and
your plans. Why spend millions more on this and is this a sign that the Government sales job is not
working?

GREG COMBET: Oh, I think you'd have to admit that there has been a fair deal of public debate about
this and there has certainly been a lot of misrepresentation by Tony Abbott about the issues. The
fact of the matter is that the cost of living impact is actually quite modest, only 0.7 per cent
increase in the CPI.

The fact of the matter is also that the Government is providing assistance to low and middle income
households and pensioners in particular and in fact nine out of ten households will receive some
assistance from the Government in order to help meet the modest price impacts.

Those facts need to get out there. Of course the Government is also providing very significant
levels of assistance to support jobs. Those facts need to get out there and Tony Abbott is running
around trying to terrify the living daylights out of everyone.

It is important that the community is exposed to the facts and the Government policy positions that
have been adopted.

SABRA LANE: Are you surprised by the level of community anger being levelled at the Prime Minister?

GREG COMBET: Oh, we know that we have got a lot of hard work ahead of us here to explain the issues
about why we need to tackle climate change, how we are doing it at lowest cost to the economy, how
we are assisting households and supporting jobs in the process. So I know that the Prime Minister
is certainly up to the task and so is the whole of the Government.

SABRA LANE: There will be more dreadful polling to come for the Government. If the polling remains
this bad, are you wedded to the idea that the party will see this tax introduced but you'll lose
the next election?

GREG COMBET: Well, you must be a sage to be able to foresee what the polling says, Sabra but what I
can assure you is that the Government is completely committed to this policy. It is a very
important change for our country. It will put us on a good competitive footing in the years ahead
because it will drive innovation, it will drive investment in cleaner energy sources and it will do
so over time.

SABRA LANE: It's been reported that Labor MPs have given Ms Gillard six to 12 months to improve her
popularity. What do you make of this speculation?

GREG COMBET: Oh, nothing actually. I completely support the Prime Minister. She is doing the right
thing by the country and I think all of that sort of chatter is really doesn't bear a lot of
listening to.

TONY EASTLEY: The Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, speaking to our chief political
correspondent Sabra Lane.