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Labor to put jobs at risk

Calls from the ALP national conference for Australia to move away from the hard fought greenhouse gas outcome on the Kyoto Protocol add to the long list of head shaking contradictions that make up opposition policy.

The Labor Party says its first priority is unemployment and job security - but at the same time they are committed to putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk by abandoning the hard yards Australia has already won on greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact more than 20 percent of developed economies are expected to be allowed to increase their national emissions, including Portugal by 40 percent. By contrast Labor wants Australia to be denied the fair burden sharing available to other countries and agreed upon by the rest of the international community.

They are a calling for Australians to make a greater sacrifice than will be required of other nations. They disregard the fact that the structure of our economy and composition of our trade makes the costs of greenhouse emission reduction higher for Australia.

The outcome this government has carefully negotiated means that Australia, along with all countries, will take on a comparable economic burden. We will be reducing the projected growth in business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions by the average of all countries which have taken on commitments.

Few things could make less sense than deliberately eroding Australia's competitive advantage in energy intensive and mining industries. Good research has shown that such a move would drive Australian industries and Australian jobs offshore. The burden would be felt particularly in rural areas and towns. The impact of the uncertainty on investment planning and decision making - and therefore job security - would be immediate and long lasting.

The Kyoto Protocol is a landmark agreement in the fight against climate change precisely because it contains targets which, despite being challenging, are also realistic and fair. This is a vast improvement on the undeliverable promises of the past.

Australia can ill afford to risk undoing the excellent outcome achieved at Kyoto.

CHRISTCHURCH

For further information contact Greg Hunt, 02 6277 7500; 0411 414 691