Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Government recommits to Kyoto -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But first the Federal Government has announced Australia is ready to re-commit to the Kyoto Protocol for a second period.

But the Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says Australia's decision to sign up will be conditional. He says Australia will not provide a blank cheque.

Mr Combet says a number of conditions must be met. In making the announcement Mr Combet also delivered a blistering critique of the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott with some strong language.

Chief political correspondent, Sabra Lane.

SABRA LANE: The Climate Change Minister Greg Combet announced Australia would sign up to a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol at a Carbon Expo conference in Melbourne this morning.

GREG COMBET: Australia is taking this position to the UN conference at Dohar.


We are taking this position to the UN conference at Dohar though in a very clear context that I'd like to explain.

SABRA LANE: The next round of climate talks take place in Dohar later this month, but Mr Combet is making it clear that Australia's commitment is conditional that developing nations must agree to cut their emissions too in the next global agreement beyond the Kyoto Protocol.

GREG COMBET: But Australia's commitment to the second commitment period is not a blank cheque. For Australia there must be continued progress towards this new agreement by 2015 from both the developing and developed countries alike. We must have an environmentally effective international agreement that binds all of the major emitters.

SABRA LANE: The Kyoto deal only covers developed nations.

Australia's emissions reduction target remains a 5 per cent cut below 2000 levels by 2020. The Greens say that target is totally unacceptable.

But Mr Combet says the offer of deeper cuts is still on the table, if developing nations sign up to the deal that will replace the Kyoto agreement.

GREG COMBET: The Government leaves on the table the potential to increase that emissions reduction target up to 15 or to 25 per cent by 2020 depending upon the scale of global action and we want to see progress on that front.

SABRA LANE: Nearly five years ago, Labor was swept to office on a campaign on climate change. It almost lost office last time around partly due to the shelving of the emissions trading scheme and now the Climate Change Minister Greg Combet is signalling 'game on' with the Opposition over its campaign against the carbon tax.

GREG COMBET: It is simply too important for our country and for future generations to concede a single millimetre of ground to a short term political opportunist like Tony Abbott or other mates of his like Alan Jones. They are reactionaries and they are out of touch and they should not be allowed to manipulate the community into wrong perceptions of the impact of the carbon price.

SABRA LANE: He says it's not accident the drop in popularity for Mr Abbott in recent polls started to occur after the carton tax was introduced.

GREG COMBET: We don't plan on losing the election. We are going to win the election and fight it right out to the end and explain our policy to people and why it is important for future generations.

In the event unfortunately for the country that Mr Abbott were to win, contemplate then the challenges he is going to face. We will have carbon markets in a properly constructed legislative environment, private contractual commitments in place throughout the economy and it is a very difficult thing to unpick. You need a majority in both houses of parliament of course to make a change of this nature.

I'm not too certain that would be the outcome either and given that everything here said about this issue, to be frank about it and so that you don't misunderstand anything I'm saying, has been complete bullshit.

(Crowd applauding)

Is he really going to go to a double dissolution election?

SABRA LANE: On Channel Nine this morning, Today show host Lisa Wilkinson asked the Opposition Leader what other policies he'd promise to ensure that electricity prices would drop other than scrapping the carbon tax.

TONY ABBOTT: We would have the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) out there making sure that businesses did not profiteer once the carbon tax was off.

LISA WILKINSON: Okay but you still haven't answered my question, how much will you bring down energy prices beyond taking off the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, we will do vastly better than the Labor Party Lisa, because there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead …

LISA WILKINSON: You're still not answering my question Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: But Lisa, I'm saying there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead and when I say that I'm telling the truth.

LISA WILKINSON: So should I get from that that you don't actually have a plan on how to bring those prices down beyond the carbon tax?

TONY ABBOTT: But getting rid of the carbon tax …

LISA WILKINSON: Beyond the carbon tax Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: That is a very, very good start Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON: Okay, well I'll have to take it that you don't have a plan. Unless you are going to put one forward, it doesn't look like you've got a plan Mr Abbott.

TONY ABBOTT: Lisa, the plan starts with getting rid of the carbon tax. Now …

LISA WILKINSON: Okay, I think you've answered the question.

TONY ABBOTT: No one who is serious about getting power prices down whacks on a carbon tax because the whole point of a carbon tax is to get prices up. If they don't go up the carbon tax isn't working. That's the whole point of a price signal, Lisa.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the Today show, ending that report by chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.