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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 22 July 2008: Peter Costello; emissions trading scheme; federalism.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP

22 July 2008

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW SYDNEY

Subjects: Peter Costello; emissions trading scheme; federalism.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………......

QUESTION:

There’s been more speculation obviously about the leadership of the Liberal Party. In your interview with Sky News you didn’t actually rule out whether or not you’d step aside for Mr Costello. Are you afraid that perhaps this could further undermine the stability of the [inaudible] Liberal Party?

DR NELSON:

Well look I am very committed to the job that I’m doing in leading the Opposition and the alternative government of Australia. I’m not going to discuss hypotheticals. I’ve said it privately, I’ve also said it publicly, and I’ll say it again, that Peter Costello has earned the right, with his family, to make a decision about his future. Personally I’ll be very happy if he stays, and if he does he’ll go onto the frontbench with a bullet.

QUESTION:

So but in terms of actually resolving this issue now, in terms of what would happen in the event that Peter Costello decides to stay on, wouldn’t it be better for the long term future of the Party for you to just answer that question now?

DR NELSON:

Well look, I’m not going to get drawn into hypotheticals, but all I can say to you is that I’m very committed to doing the job that I’m doing. We are eight months into this. In my view we’ve made considerable progress. Australians are waking up to Mr Rudd, that he is not the person who was featured in the brochure that Australians

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received in the mailbox last year. It’s obvious that Mr Rudd is all talk, no substance and no decisions. And as far as I’m concerned I’m very committed to keep on doing the job that I am and I’m very determined in that regard. And I’m certainly not going to talk about hypotheticals. But I am very determined that I will lead the Liberal Party and the Opposition to the next election.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] the emissions trading scheme. Some businesses are saying in response to the Labor plan that they want to be able to up their emissions if they have investment projects in mind as long as they’re along environmental practices, which apparently

was a Howard Government practice as well, is that something you agree with?

DR NELSON:

Well certainly if you’ve got people in the LNG, petroleum, cement and aluminium industries that are investing in environmentally world’s best practice technologies, then I think we need to have the capacity in the short to medium term to allow them to go above their targets. Because in the end what this is about is Australia making a contribution as part of a global response to climate change, to making sure we reduce our footprint in the long term. It makes eminent common sense to see that we are environmentally credible and also that we’re economically responsible, as far as growth is concerned and making sure that we keep industries and jobs in Australia. Mr Rudd has not thought this through. He’s rushing this through. He has not thought about the serious consequences to Australia of getting this wrong, and the last thing that this country can afford is to have $60 billion in LNG contracts lost. The last thing we can afford is to have major fuel refiners to go offshore or indeed to lose our aluminium, cement or other industries. What’s important here is that this be done in the right way. That it be done methodically and Mr Rudd is putting the cart before the horse and he’s risking Australia’s economic future by the way that he is rushing this through.

QUESTION:

Would you back the ETS in parliament at present?

DR NELSON:

Well again, we’re carefully considering Professor Garnaut’s Report. We’re considering the green paper. We will certainly wait for the white paper that the Government is proposing to release towards the end of the year. But in the end the first priority for all of us is to put Australia’s interests first, our economic interests and our environmental interests. And what Mr Rudd’s proposing to do is to have legislation before the federal parliament before the major emitters of the world meet in Copenhagen next year to consider a meaningful response from 2012. Business and industry has been told to provide its views to the Government before they even get the chance to see the economic modelling from Treasury. If Mr Rudd is fair dinkum about this the first thing that he will do is provide a full and extensive briefing from his senior officials to me and my senior shadow ministers, including the economic modelling that Treasury is developing. He will also postpone his 2010 implementation

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date because he is in the process of getting it wrong and making a serious mistake that is not in Australia’s interests.

QUESTION:

What’s your view of the Government’s climate change ads that have just come out?

DR NELSON:

Well they seem to be a bit fluffy at the moment. It’s interesting that Mr Rudd has lectured Australians about government advertising for some time and now has released these advertisements. I do think, as I said recently, I do think there is a place for educating Australians about the economics of climate change and what’s involved in an emissions trading scheme. I think it’s important that Mr Rudd, if he’s focussing

on advertising, also make it clear to Australians that the environmental damage that will come, not only to Australia but to the rest world, as a consequence of climate change is going to be done by the major emitters of the world and that if Australia does in the end act alone without commitments and action from the major emitters we will do, potentially, enormous economic damage to Australia for no environmental gain at all. I think, again, if the Government is serious about its advertising you would think that they would have us have a look at them.

QUESTION:

Sorry just about the options paper on the future of Australian federation. Do you care to elaborate on that for me please?

DR NELSON:

Well one of the things that’s important to Australia’s future is examining the federation and constitutionally how our three tiers of government work: what are the responsibilities that each of those tiers have? How do we raise the money in Australia and then distribute it from the three tiers of government? And what we are doing is we will be running a major forum next month to look at constitutional issues and we will publish and release a major options paper for Australians to consider in terms of the constitutional choices that we’ve got to make. Mr Rudd gets into a lather about whether Australia should be a republic or not and whatever one’s attitude to that, the main issue that faces us as Australians is how can we best govern ourselves in a world quite different from that of the late 19th Century.

QUESTION:

But does this republic debate come into the platform?

DR NELSON:

We think it’s important as the Opposition and alterative government to prompt Australians to think seriously about the way in which we are governing our country and administering everything from health and education, to transport and training. Wherever you live in Australia at the moment it’s clear that we need reform and

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getting the COAG, the Council of Australian Governments, to work more effectively - I mean no-one can disagree with that. But particularly with Mr Rudd and wall-to-wall Labor governments, what we’ve got at the moment is a conspiracy to conceal underperformance. Getting COAG to work more effectively, obviously, is in everybody’s interests, but the main reform - and all roads lead back to our constitution - and in this the early part of the 21st Century we owe it to our future to start to have a mature and serious debate in Australia about what state governments do, what the federal government does, who raises the money, how do we distribute that money, and that is one reason also why we’re also looking very seriously at taxation issues.

QUESTION:

Just on, sorry, the forum, who will be able to participate or who are you drawing on in terms of experts and contributions?

DR NELSON:

Well Kevin Andrews and the Menzies Research Centre are overseeing this and we will release the details of the conference very shortly.

Thank you.

[ends]

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