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Christine Milne joins Insiders -

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FRAN KELLY, PRESENTER: Now to our program guest, Greens Leader Christine Milne.

And while she joins us, here's Tony Abbott, who has just held a news conference in Houston where he was asked about the latest Australian thinking on the situation in Iraq.

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER (during press conference): The group which is now in apparent control of large swathes of Iraq and parts of Syria is a group that was too radical for al Qaeda. They are an extremist splinter group from the most extremist terrorist group the world has seen. So let's not underestimate just how serious this situation is.

The Americans are weighing their options right now. They will talk to us, we will talk to them, and let's see what emerges.

FRAN KELLY: Christine Milne, welcome to Insiders.


FRAN KELLY: Senator, events are unfolding very quickly and quite dramatically in Iraq. You've called on Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten not to take us into another war in Iraq.

But what should Australia do if Iraq is very clearly calling for international help? Should Australia and the world stand back or should we go in and give some kind of military support?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Certainly the situation in Iraq is horrendous. You only have to see the number of civilian deaths and the horrific assault that's going on there. But, following the Americans into another war is not going to fix it.

I thought we should have learnt by now from 'All the way with LBJ (Lyndon B Johnson)', learnt from the lie that John Howard took us into Iraq with in that instance. And what I'm saying is we need to be working in the United Nations, but it will not serve Australia's interests to just follow the United States into another mess in Iraq. And we need…

FRAN KELLY: There is that phrase 'Australia's interests'.

CHRISTINE MILNE: … an independent foreign policy.

FRAN KELLY: I noticed that Bill Shorten said we should only get involved, the test for sending troops to Iraq - and I should stress there is no talk of troops in Iraq at the moment - would be in the Australian national interest. But is that the test?

You say go to the UN. The UN has been unable to do much at all in Syria to help. Is there a responsibility for a country like Australia and others beyond our national interests? Is there the right to protect doctrine, for instance? Should that come to play at any point, and would you be easy with that if it came to that?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well our global responsibility is through the United Nations and it always has been. We need to forge our own way in terms of foreign policy.

I think many Australians will be uncomfortable at the extent to which Tony Abbott has now thrown in our lot with the United States in terms of cementing yet more bases, yet more troops, yet more engagement. We do not want to follow the United States blindly as John Howard did. And clearly, it didn't work last time in Iraq and it won't work this time.

FRAN KELLY: I think we should stress, for people listening, that there has been no request and terms of if there is talk about any kind of international involvement in Iraq, really there doesn't seem to be a major role for Australia at this time. But if Australia is asked to contribute militarily to assist the Iraqi government against this kind of march by the Sunni extremists, should Tony Abbott, should the Prime Minister, bring it to the Australian Parliament before he commits?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well the Australian Greens have always said that the decision to send people to war should be a decision of the Parliament. That has always been our position and it remains our position.

We should never be just allowing the executive to run along blindly following the United States as John Howard did. It is not the way we ought to go, and it's time we changed the situation in Australia and did bring these questions to the Parliament.

But I reiterate again: our global engagement has to be through the United Nations, not just as a follower of the United States.

FRAN KELLY: Let's go to the Prime Minister's trip more broadly now. Climate change was discussed in the talks with Tony Abbott and the US president, and those in the room say that the US president acknowledged that Tony Abbott had the support of the people at the last election to scrap a price on carbon and pursue his Direct Action policy.

If the US president can see it, why can't you?

CHRISTINE MILNE: I think the US president was being polite, at best, to Tony Abbott.

Here we had our Prime Minister embarrassing us again on the global stage. I mean at one level he is a climate denier embracing the Canadians in trying to get their climate denial club going and being rejected by the United Kingdom and by New Zealand, for example. Then we have him going to the United States climate denying, coal promoting, conservationist Prime Minister. Then we have him end up in Houston absolutely rallying for the coal industry.

He just says anything that he thinks the audience want to hear. He doesn't care that it's totally contradictory one day to the next. And he certainly, in terms of climate denial, he still obviously believes climate change is crap.

What the United States president did get was a concession that energy efficiency would be on the agenda in the G20, and what that means is mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency standards. That's where Tony Abbott will have to concede this.

FRAN KELLY: You mentioned the - we were just discussing there the energy conference in Houston, Texas and the speech by Tony Abbott.

Let's have a little listen to it because Tony Abbott was quite deliberately talking up coal. Let's have a look.

TONY ABBOTT (during speech): For many decades at least, coal will continue to fuel human progress as an affordable, dependable energy source for wealthy and developing countries alike. I want to repeat that. Coal will continue to fuel human progress.

FRAN KELLY: As I say, quite deliberate at the end of this trip where climate change has been a bit of a theme. Do you think that, combined with the position with Canada, 'Canadia', Canada about the job-destroying climate tax, that this is a bit of a push-back from Australia and Canada combined in the lead-up to next year's UN climate conference?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Clearly it is, and what a shocking thing that our Prime Minister is trying to undermine the rest of the world achieving a treaty to address global warming by 2015 in Paris. Clearly he wants to undermine it. He wants to re-enforce massive coal exports, huge damage as a result of extreme weather. And here we are before the World Heritage Committee this week where they'll be deciding whether to put the Great Barrier Reef on the in-danger list, where they'll be rejecting Australia, I hope, in terms of removing forests from the World Heritage area.

I mean he is last century's man. He's a climate denying, last century man. He's a huge opportunity cost to Australia, because while he might go celebrating and putting on his Stetson in Texas, the best opportunity for investment and jobs is in decarbonising energy.

And that's why I'll be moving in the Senate this week to bring on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Bill and have it absolutely put to the vote so that we reject Tony Abbott's effort to destroy renewable energy investment in Australia.

That will set up a double dissolution trigger and make it very clear to Australia the Greens are going to stand firm for a clean energy, renewable energy future as opposed to the Prime Minister's last century coal, global-warming, destroying future he wants.

FRAN KELLY: So just to be clear here, before the Greens lose their sort of key balance-of-power role, because that will be diluted in the new Senate after July, you are going to try to set up a trigger of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

What does that do, though? There is no pressure on Tony Abbott to use that trigger, pull that trigger is there? He might go to the people on a carbon tax, unlikely to go to them on a Clean Energy Finance Corporation, I would have thought.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well it sets up the absolute debate in Australia: Do you want a future powered by renewable energy or do you want to abandon all efforts to address global warming and head back to the old dig it up, cut it down, ship it away past that is destroying the planet and landing us up with extreme weather events and all those opportunity costs?

FRAN KELLY: Let's talk about the Greens, and is there some inconsistency in your position? As I say, you're going to lose your balance of power prominence in the new Parliament. You've got two weeks left. Will you use that to try, for instance, and to support Tony Abbott in passing the increase in fuel indexation because, on the face of it, a rise in the price of petrol is a policy that fits right in with the Greens' philosophy?

CHRISTINE MILNE: What an extraordinary statement that the Prime Minister made in his meeting with president Obama to say that the fuel excise in Australia is a carbon tax. This is the man who doesn't believe in taxes. Remember, this is why he is in the Parliament, to get rid of taxes, and then sits there and says that before he goes to Texas the next day to actually celebrate oil.

The man just can't be believed.

But the point here is that the fuel excise in Australia is not a carbon price signal when it's attached to putting all of that money into more roads to create more congestion with cars that are some of the most polluting on the planet because…

FRAN KELLY: But will you support it?

CHRISTINE MILNE: …we don't have efficiency standards.

FRAN KELLY: Will you support it in the end, if it's left as it is, with all that money going to roads, or, if you can manage to get some of that money hypothecated to some kind of public transport system - rail? Will the Greens support it?

CHRISTINE MILNE: We've said that we want to have a look at the legislation. We don't know how they have constructed this legislation or their hypothecation.

Let me just say strongly though: It makes no sense to have a price signal that is not driving transformative behaviour. Tony Abbott just wants this as a revenue raiser for roads. That doesn't make sense in actually transforming the economy. We need more public transport, we need mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency standards.

FRAN KELLY: Talking about making sense and consistency, I'm trying to get clarification on what your view is on the Paid Parental Leave Scheme Tony Abbott is now talking about because it is very close to what the Greens have been proposing for a long time, and yet you still say the jury is out while ever it is not completely funded by a tax on business.

The current scheme is not funded by a tax on business. It seems like another roadblock you are putting up in front of a policy the Greens have long supported.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well certainly we support paid parental leave as a workplace entitlement, we think that is important. But we want to make sure it is paid for by big business.

But the fact is, we don't even know what the legislation is.

Warren Truss has been out this week saying that it's under design and he wants farmers' wives around Australia to be able to access paid parental leave and presumably others. He hasn't said how you would actually do that if they are not already in the business as a salaried employee.

So let's see what they actually put on the table or indeed…

FRAN KELLY: But rather than waiting to see…

CHRISTINE MILNE: …if they put anything on the table.

FRAN KELLY: ... why don't you send a signal to the Government that you are keen on getting this through, you are keen on working this out with them? You seem to be very sort of negative, saying it is all on to them. Why don't the Greens, if this is a policy you really support and believe in, why don't you push the Government to come closer to you?

CHRISTINE MILNE: This is the Government's policy and we don't know what the Government's policy is. If they put up a policy position, we will look at it within the parameters I've just said, that it is paid for entirely by big business.

Our big push in this next two weeks is to make sure we get renewable energy front and centre in the debate in Australia and keep carbon pricing. Because overwhelmingly people are beginning to realise just what a hypocrite the Prime Minister is and what a cost he is to the nation in terms of jobs and invent in renewable energy.

FRAN KELLY: Just finally, Senator Milne, can I ask about the Clive Palmer/Palmer United Party because come July they will have a significant role, balance-of-power role, in the Senate. Should the Federal Parliament be seeking answers from Clive Palmer on the serious allegations of corruption that have been levelled against him by the Queensland Newman Government?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well it's up to Clive Palmer to make clear what has happened with these serious allegations of corruption. But one thing that's pretty clear is that Clive Palmer, like the Prime Minister, will say and do anything for a media grab, whether it is consistent or not doesn't matter.

There are serious questions to be answered in terms of where Clive Palmer sits. He didn't vote on the repeal of the carbon price because he had a direct conflict of interest.

The challenge here is that his Senators abstain from the vote because, clearly, they will be putting money straight into the companies of their leader if they vote to repeal carbon pricing. They will be just puppets of Clive. And that is really something Australia needs to think about, and think about very strongly.

FRAN KELLY: Christine Milne thank you very much for joining us on Insiders.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Thank you Fran.