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Coalition policy is to vote on ETS after Copenhagen and US legislation.

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Coalition policy is to vote on ETS after Copenhagen and US legislation

Monday, July 20, 2009

Source: Senator Ron Boswell


Coalition Members of the House of Representatives voted against the CPRS legislation in the last sitting of Parliament. The legislation is now before the Senate. The Coalition Joint Party room decided that the legislation would be opposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Any decision to change that policy must be taken by the Joint Party Room to have authority.

Malcolm Turnbull said earlier today:

“If I was Prime Minister, I would not be finalising the design of this scheme prior to the Copenhagen Summit because I think we need to know what the rest of the world is going to do. It’s vital that we’re part of an effective global solution. We also need to know what the

US legislation finally looks like. I mean we’ve got a bill that’s gone through the House, the House of Representatives, the Congress but not through the Senate. So there are powerful arguments for finalising this in February, March next year. That’s what I would do if I was Prime Minister and you lose nothing by doing so…” [ABC Radio National, 20 July 09].

I support these comments totally.

I also observe that the very first resolution carried (unanimously) by the Inaugural Conference of the Liberal National Party in Queensland on the weekend opposed the CPRS, as follows:

“RESOLUTION NUMBER 1 That this convention of the LNP opposes the Federal Labor Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and opposes its implementation until the reasons and costs associated with the scheme are accountable, credible and proven scientific facts. Carbon trading impacts will have a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of all residents and industries in Australia.”

I note previous comments by the Leader of the Opposition following the decision made by the Joint Party Meeting on 26 May 09 to postpone the decision on the ETS until after Copenhagen and the US legislation.

“In light of the fact that the Copenhagen conference is only six months away, and the Obama Administration and US Congress are well advanced in finalising US legislation for an ETS, the Coalition believes that it would be premature to lock Australia into an Emissions Trading

Scheme that is out of step with the rest of the world.

The Coalition therefore will move in the Parliament to defer a final vote on the Government's proposed ETS until after the Copenhagen meeting.” [Opposition Leader Press Release, Climate Change: Getting in step with the world 26 May 2009]

The following comments were made by the Opposition Leader at the press conference that day:

1. “Common sense and prudence, the importance of getting this right, of pursuing a practical outcome that is effective for the environment and does not destroy jobs, demands that the decision on the scheme and on the final design of the scheme should be postponed until after Copenhagen, by which stage we will not only know what the world has agreed to do at Copenhagen but, most importantly, we will know exactly what the United States has resolved to do with their emissions trading scheme.

2. The reality is that the debate in America is proceeding. The scheme that they adopt and the rules they adopt will be by far the most influential benchmark around the world and it is a vital element in Australia’s interest for us to take into consideration when we finalise our own carbon emission reduction arrangements. So that is our position on the legislation. We will vote to defer it until after Copenhagen, which will also be after the US scheme, the US

legislation is concluded.

3. If I was the Prime Minister today I would not be finalising our scheme until after we had seen what had happened at Copenhagen and what the outcome of the United States legislative process was.

4. Now, I’ve been saying this for quite a long time, for some time, I think ever since we went into Opposition and we started considering this issue of timing. You’ve got to remember Mr Rudd created an artificial timetable. He was the one who said in the election campaign the scheme will start in 2010 therefore, naturally, the legislation had to be completed in 2009.

5. If the Government does not take the opportunity to get the scheme right then we will not vote for it, plainly. Let me be quite clear about that. But, you see, the difficultly with Kevin Rudd trying to play catch-up with developments in the United States is that there is a 964-

page bill that is going through the Congress. That is the single most important piece of climate change legislation in the world. It will be the benchmark, and common sense and prudence dictates that what we should do is defer the final consideration of our scheme until we have seen what finally emerges from the Congress and the Administration and what

emerges from Copenhagen

6. If he wants to rush through a scheme before we know what the Americans’ legislation will say, recognising that will be the benchmark - and let’s be real, America is the biggest economy in the world. It’s the biggest emitter of CO2 in the world second only, or it’s just ahead of China. So what the Americans do is the critical element - that’s the critical factor. The arrangement they reach with China at Copenhagen - that is the deal. That’s what it’s all about. Now common sense says if you are genuine about protecting the climate, if you are

genuine about protecting jobs you seek to get this right and you get it right by deferring the final consideration until after you know what has happened.

7. Warren and I are here as the Leader of the Liberal Party and Leader of the National Party, we are telling you what the Coalition will vote do and that is to defer it.

8. QUESTION: Business and industry groups have been running this line about a needing investment certainly and I assume they’ll probably run it today in response to what you’ve announced, are those claims overblown, can they wait til next year?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: They certainly can.

9. This is the absurdity we would get into if we were to pass this scheme this year; pass this scheme this year, the Americans finalise their law, we have an agreement of some kind at Copenhagen, we would have to come back in February next year and amend our legislation in light of what the Americans have done

10. I say to you if I was the Prime Minister today I would not be finalising this legislation this year, I would do it early next year after we know what the American laws look like, they’ll be concluded by then, and what has been agreed at Copenhagen.

11. Now there’s an opportunity to get this emissions trading scheme right and that requires a deferral into early next year.

12. I have always taken the view, as has Greg, that we should not finalise the design of our scheme until after Copenhagen. I’ve always said that. I’ve never said anything other than that and that is fundamental. And that was why we objected to Mr Rudd bringing forward the commencement date and bringing forward, of necessity, the legislation.

13. The fact of the matter is we are six months away from knowing exactly what the US legislation will be and knowing what will be decided at Copenhagen, and common sense says you should wait `til then.

14. Look, common sense, prudence, practicality, a concern for jobs and getting it right would mean that you would not finalise the design of an Australian scheme until you knew what the American legislation was and what had happened at Copenhagen because they are vital input, vital factors to bear in mind. Right. Everyone agrees with that. So why are we rushing to finalise a scheme in advance of Copenhagen? The only reason is because of Mr Rudd’s vanity.

15. We have a particular proposal on the table from Mr Rudd which we have never supported. I have never supported his proposal. I’ve been critical of it from the time he tabled it and I’ve always been critical of the timing and of the way it treats these trade-exposed industries. We’ve got the opportunity now to get it right and we’ve got the opportunity to have a scheme agreed next year which will be in step with what other developed countries are doing and in step with a global agreement.”