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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) that, but there will be a

conference in one hour. To our

top story, Climate Change

Minister Greg Combet say it

voters will see they have

nothing to fear from a carbon

tax when the details are

released on Sunday. The staun

TAFE details have been worked

out and there's a few loose

ends that need tying up. Mr

Combet insisted the impact of

the carbon tax on households

and small businesses will be

modest. Of course the support

of the Greens will be essential

for passing that carbon tax

legislation. Nine Gina

senators took their seats

yesterday and now hold the

balance of power in the Upper

House. One of those senators was Senator Richard Di Natale

the first Greens Senator to be

elected from Victoria. Senator

Richard Di Natale joins us from

Canberra. Congratulations on

your new position. How was it

yesterday? Was it exciting to

step into Parliament and be

part of that balance of power

now? It sure was. It was a

little bit of a whirlwind but

very, very exciting, and

exciting time to be part of the

national Parliament, the Greens sharing the balance of power in the Lower House and balance of

power in the Senate. It was a

wonderful day, yes. Many people

will be wondering who are these

people who hold such important

positions. You can tell us a

bit about yourself and more importantly, what have you been

doing to prepare for such a

significant appointment that

you now have? My background is

in health. I spent a few years

working in the healthcare

sector. I've spent a couple of

years in the Northern Territory

working in Aboriginal health.

Dy HIV prevention work in India

and work in the drug and

alcohol sector. I have a

health background. That's been

eessentially the focus of my

work, I suppose, in terms of

the things that I bring into the Senate. I've been speaking

to a number of stake holders

that field, getting their views

on what they would like to see

as part of the national health

agenda. I've been also working

a little bit in the areas of

gambling and multiculturalism, talking to a number of people

in those sectors as they're now

part of my portfolios. One of

the things I've done to prepare

is spend as much time with the

kids and family as possible. I

know it is going to be a very

busy six years and I've got

good advice early on to enjoy

the break, spend some time with

the family, because those times

will be few and far between

over the next six years. What's

the atmosphere like in the meetings with your Greens

colleagues at the moment

knowing that you do hold a lot

of power and we'll talk about

the carbon tax in just a

moment, but what have been the

conversations about the nextfy

months and the next few years

being part of the Greens'

movement? As you can imagine,

it is a very upbeat feeling in

the partyroom at the moment.

We're all very excited by the

prospect of what the future

holds over the term of the next

Parliament, but I think we're

also very firmly aware with our

feet on the ground that we've

got a huge responsibility on

our shoulders. We have been

elected to represent 1.5

million voters and also to

represent the views of those

people who didn't vote for us.

I think that's also important

to consider. We've made a very

conscious decision that as a

group we're going to use that

power in a way that's

constructive and collaborative.

We're going to work right

across the political spectrum

with all members of the

Parliament. Our job in the

Senate is to achieve outcomes

for Australia. We're not going to oppose for the sake of

opposition. Each of us in our

portfolio areas will work hard

with the ministers in those areas, with members of the opposition should they choose

to work with us to try to get

really good outcomes for the

Australian people. The debate

around the carbon tax which the

details of which will be

released on Sunday, the debate

until now may become absolutely

superfluous and it could be

true that the debate actually

starts on Sunday and then you

and your colleagues will have a

big say in perhaps further

negotiations. Is that how you

see it? I think that what's

going to happen on Sunday is a

very important first step in

the battle to tackle climate

change. I think that the

decision to announce a price on pollution will be very

important one. It will be a

first step. We know that the outcome will be a compromise

outcome taking into account the

views of the Independents, the

greens and the government. It will be an important first

step. We will get a price on

pollution. We'll get investment in the renewable

sector, all very important outcomes, and outcomes that

were achieved because we have

the unique Parliament that we

have at the moment where we

have a number of voices

contributing on this really

important national issue. But

it will be a first step. All

the signs are saying we need to

reduce our missions and reduce

them rapidly if we are to address run away climate

change. We'll need to do a lot

more work over the coming years

to bring down our emissions and

global emissions in line with

the best evidence from the international reports that

we're now being given by

scientists right across the

world. When you say first step,

does that mean you envisage

perhaps the Greens seeking

further changes to the

Government's proposed

legislation perhaps in the

Senate? I think over time,

that's inevitable. I think

over time there will be changes

to the price on pollution

that's been implemented.

They're down the line. I think

the reason we see this as a

really important first step is

because the scheme has been

negotiated in a way to provide

a platform for further action

as opposed to the CPRS in the

previous Parliament which was

really had a ceiling. It

locked us into a particular

course of action that didn't

allow for any further action.

That's one of the big

differences with this scheme.

Clearly, the job for us in the

Parliament at the moment is to

ensure that this scheme is

implement the properly, that we

ensure that the Australian

people understand that this is

a scheme that will do two things:

things: it will address

climate change, of course a

great challenge, but it will

make sure individual housers

are compensate said and in most

cases they won't be any worse

off. That's our job in the

short-term. Of course in the

longer term we hope tobl able

to build on this really

important work that's being done. Senator Richard Di

Natale, what do you say to

people who are nervous and

express their opinions about

the Greens holding the balance

of power in the Senate? I

suppose the first thing is to

look at our record. We've had

a share of balance of power

over the life of last

Parliament. We helped to

negotiate a stimulus package.

It wasn't a package that we

would design ourselves. We

passed it with the Labor

Government because we knew not

passing that scheme would have

brought this country into

recession. Also people I think

understand that our values are

very consistent with mainstream

Australian values. You look

at, for example, the war in

Afghanistan, the right to die

with dignity, equal love in

marriage, they're all

mainstream Australian values

and it is the Greens who

represent those things while

the two old parties don't represent Australians on those

important issues. Senator

Richard Di Natale, we appreciate your time this

morning and best wishes for