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Abbott unveils new Coaltion climate change policy

Abbott unveils new Coaltion climate change policy

Broadcast: 02/02/2010

Reporter: Chris Uhlmann

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott unveiled the Coalition's new climate change policy today. Abbot says
he can meet a carbon reduction target of five per cent by 2020 through what he calls direct action.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN: Copenhagen might have failed, but climate change was still the hot item on the
year's first day of Parliament today. In fact the place was consumed by a battle over competing
climate change plans.

As promised Opposition leader Tony Abbott produced his new policy to replace the one the Coalition
had committed to under Malcolm Turnbull, supporting the Government's emissions trading scheme.

Mr Abbott says he can meet a carbon reduction target of five per cent by 2020 through what he calls
direct action.

The heart of his plan is an emissions reduction fund of $10-billion over the next decade, paying
companies to cut carbon emissions below their usual levels, rather than setting a cap on carbon
emissions as the Government has done.

He would impose fines on businesses that actually increase their pollution levels, but any
reduction would be achieved by carrots rather than sticks.

Political editor Chris Uhlmann reports.

CHRIS UHLMANN: They say that an election year is a marathon, not a sprint.

But in recent weeks Tony Abbott's made it seem more like a triathlon.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: I'm back up here again. I'll be off to the mad house. OK.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And perhaps his frantic start to the year has the Prime Minister wondering if the
Opposition leader's gaining on him.

The lesson from today's Newspoll is for the first time since the 2007 election loss the Coalition
has passed Labour on primary votes, it has 41 per cent to Labour's 40, but after preferences the
Government still leads by four points. Making bold predictions from a single boll is fraught, but
Kevin Rudd briefly acknowledged the effort.

KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Yes, good start, well done.

TONY ABBOTT: It's been OK.

KEVIN RUDD: Keep running. Still scary, there we are.

TONY ABBOTT: See ya.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Perhaps the Prime Minister's thoughts from elsewhere because there was exciting news
from abroad.

KEVIN RUDD: I'd like to officially take this opportunity to welcome President Obama's decision to
travel to Australia.

CHRIS UHLMANN: That was just an interlude in today's main gain, the climate change showdown between
the new Opposition leader and the Prime Minister

TONY ABBOTT: When I first challenged the Prime Minister to a public debate on climate change, he
refused. He refused. Saying that the Coalition had no policy, well, Mr Policy, Mr Speaker.

(laughter)

MR SPEAKER: Order.

TONY ABBOTT: First time nerves, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, we have a policy which is simpler, cheaper
and clearer and the Government's. And I renew my question, does the Prime Minister have the guts to
have a nationally televised debate about climate change, my direct action versus his great big tax.

KEVIN RUDD: Yes, and let us have the debate here in the people's house.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The centrepiece of the Coalition's climate change plan is to set up a fund to buy
good behaviour, by the middle of 2015 a Coalition Government would be pitching a billion a year
into the fund and that and other elements of the plan are costs to be borne by taxpayers.

TONY ABBOTT: We have to find $3.2-billion over four years, we'll be upfront with you about where
that money is coming from in good time before the next election.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Companies that cut carbon emissions below their business as usual baseline will be
able to claim against the fund, and there'll be yet to be decided penalties for those that increase
their emissions.

The fund will reward farmers who improve soil management. In addition, the Coalition wants another
million homes to have solar power by 2020 and plant another 20 million trees. It says that all up
that adds up to reducing Australia's carbon emissions to the Government's target of five per cent
below 2000 levels by 2020.

GREG HUNT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: We'll achieve the same target as the Government of 140
million tonnes of reduction in 2020. By 2020.

We'll have the same start date. Of 1 July, 2011 and we can do it because our system is simple.

PROTESTERS: Justice for all!

CHRIS UHLMANN: Parliament was besieged by thousands of farmers already outraged by tree protection
policies they say have stripped value from their land, the Nationals leader says he's comfortable
with the Coalition's plan to plants millions more trees.

WARREN TRUSS, NATIONAL PARTY LEADER: I don't think there's any risk whatsoever of a proposal of
this nature compromising in any way our nation's capacity to continue to supply food for
Australians and, indeed, for much of the rest of the world.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Former Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told his partyroom that the plan was not a
long-term solution, and a market based mechanism was better than a Government paid alternative.

He will be voting for the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme, due to be reintroduced today, and
it's hardly a surprise that the Prime Minister agrees that he wants this to boil down to an issue
of trust

KEVIN RUDD: It doesn't work, it puts no cap on carbon, lets the big polluters go free, it slugs
taxpayers and working families as a result and it doesn't bother to attempt to fund the policy.
That is the core of what has been put forward today.

Mr Speaker, can I say this. It all comes off the back of a leader of the Opposition who doesn't
believe any of this in the first place. Because if you go out there and publicly say that climate
change is absolute crap, what do you think people conclude when you put out a piece of paper, that
you are serious about it. That's why people don't trust the leader of the Opposition on climate
change, because he doesn't believe that it's actually happening.

CHRIS UHLMANN: For his part Tony Abbott wants this to be a debate about simplicity against cost,
complexity and confusion.

TONY ABBOTT: The Coalition's strong and effective climate change policy will cost over the forward
estimates period, it will cost $3.2-billion as opposed to the $40-billion money-go-round envisage
the by the Prime Minister's great big new tax on everything.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Government knows it hasn't done a good job explaining its Emissions Trading
System, and it's clear the Prime Minister has been practising lines.

KEVIN RUDD: The Emissions Trading Scheme does three basic things: puts a cap on carbon pollution,
second thing it does is that it charges Australia's biggest polluters for their pollution, and,
thirdly, it uses that money to provide compensation to working families, for the 1.1 per cent
increase in their cost of living which comes from that, which gives them the opportunity to invest
in energy efficient appliances to make a difference to those costs in the future, that's what we
are on about.

CHRIS UHLMANN: For three years Labour has dominated the climate change debate but lost momentum as
last year ended in the confusion of Copenhagen. Many in the Coalition think it's beginning to run
their way, but they know this plan has to survive the marathon to polling day.

Tony Abbott joins The 7.30 Report

Tony Abbott joins The 7.30 Report

Broadcast: 02/02/2010

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks with Kerry O'Brien live from Canberra.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN: Coalition leader Tony Abbott joins me now from our Parliament House studio in
Canberra.

Why isn't your new climate change policy a message to Australia's big polluters under an Abbott
Government taxpayers will pay you to reduce your carbon pollution, you don't have to cop pain
yourself.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, under Mr Rudd's scheme taxpayers will pay because they are
consumers, they'll pay a lot more, $120 billion over 10 years as opposed to $10 billion under our
scheme.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Abbott, you know that is not true because you have the tables that everyone is
privy to that the Government released that shows that in 91 per cent of Australian households
there'll be a net gain to the households by what the Government compensates them for for what they
lost in increased prices.

TONY ABBOTT: I am not sure the Government has been quite as upfront and honest with publishing all
its modelling as you suggest.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But equally, Mr Abbott, is it honest of you to say baldly, as you just did, that
this entire cost of $100 billion plus, will actually come out of taxpayers' pockets. Consumers
pockets, is that correct?

TONY ABBOTT: But it's a giant money-go-round, it's a giant drag on the economy. Which we don't
need. Because this funds a whole lot of middle men and traders, in a way that my scheme, the
Coalition's proposal doesn't.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Is it honest of you to say that consumers and taxpayers will pay $110 billion, or
whatever figure you use, is that honest?

TONY ABBOTT: Because of the, of the volume of trades, the accumulative value of all this, on the
Government's own figures, is close to $120 billion.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The total churn, as you put it, does not mean that individuals will foot that bill,
does it.

TONY ABBOTT: Yes, but this is the drag factor on our economy. If what you want to do is to get
emissions reduction, I think we can do it through $10 billion worth of direct emissions purchases,
rather than this vastly more complex system of which the Prime Minister still can't really explain,
that's going to involve a money-go-round more than 10 times as large.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You call it a money-go-round; I'll come back to the question for the last time. Is
it really honest of you to paint that as a $110 billion tax that would be paid for by consumers, if
it is, how do you justify it?

TONY ABBOTT: These are the Government's own figures, I can do no better than run on the
Government's own figures.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Their figures show they are compensating households for the painful?

TONY ABBOTT: You have to pay it before you can be compensated, and I think one of the fears that
people have, and I think it's a justifiable fear, is that the costs will stay but the compensation
will gradually be eroded, particularly when you have people like Ken Henry out there saying taxes
will have to go up because Government spending is unsustainable.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What, in your policy, would persuade polluting electricity generators not to build
new coal fired power stations?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, if their emissions intensity went up beyond its current levels, they would face
a penalty. And, of course, they do have the capacity to apply to our emissions reduction fund for
money to sustain carbon emission reductions.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But there is nothing in your plan that acts as a serious disincentive for them not
to keep building more polluting electricity generators.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, they can't increase their emissions intensity, because if they increase their
emissions intensity, they'll face penalties, and we'll work with the sector to finalise the design
of the penalties, but nevertheless they'll face penalties if they increase their emissions
intensity.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But they don't face penalties, if they continue to pollute at the same level.

TONY ABBOTT: Businesses as usual, look about business as usual is not going to cost them more,
because we don't want to put their prices up. Look, these so called nasty big polluters are the
people that keep the lights on. I mean, let's not forget how essential these people are to the
business of daily life.

KERRY O'BRIEN: They do keep the lights on, but they do pollute.

TONY ABBOTT: They put out carbon.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Yes. In the Parliament today you don't think putting out carbon is any form of
pollution in the context of climate change.

TONY ABBOTT: I want to reduce emission, that's why I'm proposing to spend $10 billion over the next
decade to do that. But I think we have got to accept that carbon dioxide is an essential trace gas
as well.

KERRY O'BRIEN: By the same token, are you really saying that you are doing this because politically
you are forced to, or are you doing it because you believe that the level of carbon dioxide
emissions in the globe are a serious contribution to climate change.

TONY ABBOTT: Look, I want to do the right thing by the environment. And I think there's enough
evidence that carbon dioxide might be a problem, to try to reduce emissions. I tell you what else
we are doing here; we are buying objective environmental improvements. We are getting, we hope, a
million extra solar roofs, we are getting 20 million more trees, and the sorts of things that we'll
be funding, under our emissions reduction fund, are the sorts of things that are objective goods,
such as higher soil carbon content, which will have more productive farmland, trying to use carbon
dioxide and other waste from power stations to produce things that can then be made into biodiesel
and stockfeed. We are trying to do objectively good environmental benefits with this policy.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Abbott, you are using terminology like there's evidence evidence that carbon
dioxide might be a problem. When you put that alongside what you told that audience in regional
Victoria in October last year, "The climate change argument is absolute crap, however the politics
are tough for us because 80 per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present
danger". In other words, the only conclusion you draw from that is that you are saying, "We have to
have a climate change policy because the people believe it's a danger, but I believe it's crap".

TONY ABBOTT: Well no, and as I said before, there was a little bit of rhetorical hyperbole in there
which does not represent my considered position, I am not as evangelical about this as Prime
Minister Rudd is. I am not theological about this the way Prime Minister Rudd is, but I do think
it's important. And that is why I'm prepared to invest $10 billion over the coming decade to bring
about things which will be good regardless, good for the environment, regardless of your views on
the role of carbon dioxide in climate.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So when you say a bit of rhetorical hyperbole in that conversation with that
audience you say you adjust the message to whatever audience you are playing to, if that's the
case, how do we know you haven't adjusted your message for this audience?

TONY ABBOTT: Casually all of us are loose with our language, that was an occasion when I said what
I shouldn't have said. It didn't represent my correct position.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There's nothing loose about the meaning of a term, nothing loose about the meaning
of a term that says "absolute crap".

TONY ABBOTT: And I think what you'll find, if you go back to the comments, is that it was the so
called settled science of climate change, that I thought was to be described in language that I
wouldn't use on a family program.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In the Parliament today you described the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme as a
giant emissions trading scam. If so, if it is a giant scam, then it's a giant scam originally
introduced by the Howard Government with you in his cabinet, and until two months ago, it was
supported, a giant scam supported by the then Liberal Leader and the vast bulk of the Shadow
Cabinet including the man who stood beside you as an environmental spokesman endorsing this plan.
Why did John Howard, Peter Costello, and Malcolm Turnbull in Government and more recently the
Liberal Shadow Cabinet support an emissions trading scam?

TONY ABBOTT: I think the world has moved on, particularly since Copenhagen. The world has moved on.
The only person who hasn't moved on is Kevin Rudd. And you know, with his Emissions Trading Scheme,
Kevin Rudd is now in a terrible bind. He can't drop it, and yet he can't deliver it. Kevin Rudd has
no Plan B. If his scheme can't pass the Senate, and it won't pass the Senate. I have the Coalition
has a clear and effective climate action plan, Kevin Rudd doesn't.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Malcolm Turnbull still is not convinced, he told the partyroom that your plan is not
credible, and your plan, for instance, your plan to...

TONY ABBOTT: I think he said, he was talking about the long term.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In the short-term it's credible.

TONY ABBOTT: I mean we are trying to deliver and we can deliver clearly on what was produced today,
we are trying to meet our commitment and the Government's commitment of a five per cent cut in
emissions by 2020, and we can do that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You plan to sequester carbon in Australian soils, your plan. It may reduce our
carbon emission, but it's not recognised by the Kyoto treaty. How will you make up cuts in emission
if the global community don't recognise it, will taxpayers fund that too.

TONY ABBOTT: If it is a reduction in emissions, that's what matters. Not what Kyoto says.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You'll go on your own recipe on how to measure the targets, not a global measures.

TONY ABBOTT: Let me finish. Under the proposed Waxman Markey Bill in the United States, it is
recognised, and I'm confident that if we are going to get global progress here, it will have to be
recognised.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You are making a virtue of 20 million trees over the next decade, if we accept
that's a saving of carbon emission, any extra tree planted is a virtue, but the Hawke Government,
to put it in context, the Hawke Government initiative, back in '89 or whenever it was saw
eventually 400 million trees planted. You would plant 40 times fewer, and sell that as a
significant virtue, I wonder is it really that great?

TONY ABBOTT: I am not saying that's the whole of our policy, it's just an aspect of our policy, I
am not saying that that is at the heart of our carbon dioxide emission reductions aspect of the
policy, but it's worth doing, because more trees, more urban forests, more green corridors make for
more liveable suburbs, more liveable towns, and I think it's worth doing.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Abbott, we look forward to the debate that's going to follow over the course of
year, thanks for joining us tonight.

TONY ABBOTT: Thank you, Kerry.

Virtual office becomes a reality

Virtual office becomes a reality

Broadcast: 02/02/2010

Reporter: Thea Dikeos

Small businesses are starting to take advantage of cheap overseas labour by outsourcing work such
as marketing, web design and office administration. Budding entrepreneurs say that thanks to the
internet, they have been able to source white collar workers from overseas at a significantly lower
cost than in Australia.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN: These days it's not just the big banks taking advantage of cheap overseas labour by
moving their call centres to developing economies like India.

Now small businesses are getting in on the act.

Thanks to the Internet, they're off shoring a whole range of work like marketing, web design and
even office administration to cheaper overseas locations like the Philippines

Budding entrepreneurs say the new technology allows them to build their businesses by sourcing
white collar workers overseas at a significantly low cost than here in Australia.

Thea Dikeos reports.

STEVE SAMMARTINO, ENTREPRENEUR: Hi Vassily, how you doing?

VASSILY RACOVITSA, OFF-SHORE WORKER: Hello, Steve, I'm fine. Thanks.

THEA DIKEOS: Steve Sammartino runs an Internet business from his home in Melbourne. But he's
employees are not in the same country, let alone the same room.

STEVE SAMMARTINO: I actually have people in pretty much every global hemisphere work are for us on
our business.

THEA DIKEOS: Vassily Racovitsa is an IT professional who's living in the former Soviet Republic of
Moldova, he works as Steve Sammartino's web developer.

STEVE SAMMARTINO: What is the weather like today in Chisinau?

VASSILY RACOVITSA: Oh, it's very cold outside, it's about 20, and we have a lot of snow.

STEVE SAMMARTINO: We have a tight working relationship. It's like he's sitting on this couch with
me, but he's on Skype talking to me over in Moldova.

THEA DIKEOS: When Steve Sammartino came up with the concept of a website where people could rent
every day goods to each other, he had a limited budget.

But the Internet has given him access to talent around the world, willing to work for less than the
going rate in Australia.

STEVE SAMMARTINO: I found a lady who lives in Mexico who works with a network called ice.photo. I
went to her directly and asked for some design work, she gave me a quote which was maybe one to
five per cent of the cost to get it down locally. So something that would have cost $5,000, it was
done for somewhere between $50 and $100.

THEA DIKEOS: The web is breaking down employment barriers, and off shoring is no longer the
preserve of big business.

The Finance Sector Union Leon Carter says he's not surprised that small business is now
increasingly using offshore labour.

LEON CARTER, FINANCE SECTOR UNION: When you allow some of the most profitable companies in the
country, like the banks, to offshore without any punishment, without any commentary, they get a
competitive advantage from off shoring. What signal does it send to the rest of the economy?

(to employee) Our banks will allow that to happen unless the Government is involved.

THEA DIKEOS: Over the past five years banks and other big corporations have sparked union anger by
moving their call centre work offshore.

LEON CARTER: We have had over 5,000 jobs disappear out of our industry, not because we don't have
Australians to do the jobs, but because they can get it done cheaper in India.

THEA DIKEOS: An increasing number of websites are now devoted to finding work for professionals in
developing countries. They offer any job that can be done remotely from web design to office
administration.

CHRIS JANKULOVSKI, REMOTE STAFF: For every one Australian senior staff member I employ, I can
employ myself a full fledged professional team offshore.

THEA DIKEOS: Based in Sydney, Chris Jankulovski runs Remote Staff, a recruitment website for
Australian businesses, looking for white collar workers in the Philippines.

CHRIS JANKULOVSKI: From developers that have got 19 years experience that, have spent a lifetime at
school and university, that cost us around $120,000 Australian a year, I can get quality,
intelligent people who could assist in customer care in accounts, sales, in all these fields, I can
get them all for the price of one senior Australian staff.

THEA DIKEOS: Chris Jankulovski says small business now makes up 80 per cent of his clientele. And
he has this warning for Australian workers.

CHRIS JANKULOVSKI: Anyone working in the CBDs, and anyone that is bludging these days, they better
watch out because globalisation is here, and there's a lot of people out there who are hungry and
who would love to compete and love to compete for your job.

SHARAN BURROW, ACTU PRESIDENT: The tradition has been to offshore or outsource jobs because it's
about cutting labour costs. Obviously over time that puts competitive pressure on wages and
conditions in Australia. No Australian wants to see their living standards decline, no Australian
parent wants to see jobs in Australia of lesser quality, that lead to lower living standards for
the future.

PETER BRAIN, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC & INDUSTRY RESEARCH: It's unprecedented in the sense that we
reached probably the ultimate in terms of the jobs the risk from offshoring.

THEA DIKEOS: In 2008 Finance Sector Union commissioned economist Dr Peter Brain to research the
impact of offshoring, he estimated that up to a million service sector jobs would leave the country
in the next 20 years.

PETER BRAIN: And we are going to have to increasingly realise that in order to secure and maintain
our employment specially at the income levels we aspire we are going to have to individually view
ourselves on being competitive on a world, not just a national or local stage.

MYLES URQUHART, ENTREPRENEUR: Hi Lewis, how are you going?

LEWIS, OFF-SHORE EMPLOYEE: Yes, I'm doing good.

MYLES URQUHART: Thanks for spending me those spreadsheets.

THEA DIKEOS: Myles Urquhart runs an IT consulting business in Sydney's north. He used Chris
Jankulovski's recruitment service to find someone in the Philippines to make his business calls.

MYLES URQUHART: The actual cost is about a quarter of what it will be to hire local staff. I can
have a full time person working for me making calls, and I'm relaxed in the knowledge that they are
handling that side of the business for me, so I can concentrate on strategic tasks in relation to
the business.

SHARAN BURROW: If there's such a difference between wages paid here and wages paid in another
country for white collar work for skilled professional work, then there must be a level of
exploitation, there must be a lack of labour rights and standards in the countries in which they
are seeking that talent.

PETER BRAIN: The implementation of the Government's high speed broadband network, once it's in
place will accelerate the offshoring simply because it will enable the virtual office to be
established in almost any business enterprise.

THEA DIKEOS: But years of offshoring in the finance sector has made the unions sceptical about the
long term benefits.

LEON CARTER: This false prophecy that somehow offshoring makes things cheaper and easier is wrong.
You may be paying cheaper wages, but you are often having to pay Australians to fix up the mistakes
that are made, customers absolutely hate the fact that they are having to deal with somebody
overseas. So at the end of the day they may have a short term gain in how much they pay, a short
term gain in their profit. At the end of the day they lose their reputation, Australians don't want
their work done overseas.

THEA DIKEOS: While the argument surrounding the pros and cons of offshore labour continues, Steve
Sammartino is in no doubt that many more Australian workplaces will soon face the reality of
offshoring.

STEVE SAMMARTINO: The deluge of changes that is about to occur in white collar work in Australia
is, it's incomprehensible. People on the IT side know what is happening, we talk about it, we don't
think the country knows what is about to happen to white collar work. It is absolutely significant.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Thea Dikeos with that report.

That's the program for tonight. If you'd like to check back on any of our stories go to the
website. We'll see you again tomorrow night. For now, goodnight.