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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House: 22 July 2009: vote on climate change legislation; nuclear energy; carbon capture and storage.



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PW 194/09 22 JULY 2009 TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW: PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA SUBJECT: VOTE ON CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION, NUCLEAR ENERGY, CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE E & O E - PROOF ONLY WONG: Thanks very much for coming. In 22 days the Parliament will vote on the Government’s climate change legislation. In 22 days Malcolm Turnbull will have to show some leadership and be clear about what his party’s position is, because what we’ve seen over the last 48 hours is the opposition in disarray. We’ve seen Mr Turnbull indicating he wants to amend the scheme. We’ve seen Mr Robb, his Shadow Minister, say he wants to delay the vote again. We’ve seen Senator Boswell say he wants to oppose it, and now we’ve seen Mr Tuckey spray his leader and obviously wanting to oppose the scheme. Australians expect more from the alternative government and the alternative Prime Minister on the issue of climate change, which we all know is so important to the nation. Australians expect more from Malcolm Turnbull. So Malcolm Turnbull has 22 days to show some leadership on this important issue. Show some leadership and not simply bow to the sceptics in his party room who do not want to take any action on climate change. It might be good, perhaps, for Mr Turnbull to remind his party room, his members of Parliament, his Senators, that the Coalition went to the last election with a commitment to an emissions trading scheme. So those who are calling for opposition, those who are calling for delay are simply doing what they did previously in government which is avoiding any action on climate change. Happy to take questions. JOURNALIST: Well the Coalition says they want to talk to you about amendments and that you won’t talk to them. WONG: Well can I say this; I have said very publicly on a number of occasions if Mr Turnbull wants to put forward some amendments, we will consider them. But as yet, Mr Turnbull has not put forward a single amendment, a single constructive suggestion. All he has done is allow his divided party room to put a range of different positions out there. The leader of the alternative government, the alternative Prime Minister has to do better. JOURNALIST: Do you want to talk to him? WONG: We want the legislation passed and we want Mr Turnbull to show leadership and actually come up with a position. As yet, he has no position. He’s not put forward any amendments, and he’s not engaged with this constructively. Instead what we have is the Liberal Party and the National Party in disarray, divided and fighting with each other on the issue of climate change again.

JOURNALIST: So are you willing to accept amendments or changes to the legislation?

WONG: Well that’s a hypothetical because we’ve seen nothing. We’ve seen nothing from the opposition. What we have said is that we want this legislation passed. We’re confident what we’ve put forward is the right scheme, but Mr Turnbull has to decide if he wants to put forward amendments if he wants to be constructive, as yet he has not been.

JOURNALIST: So are you willing to negotiate?

WONG: We want the legislation passed.

JOURNALIST: But you’re willing to negotiate?

WONG: Well I think it’s clear. We want the legislation passed and we don’t have the majority in the Senate. But as yet, we have nothing on the table from the opposition other than division and disarra

y.

JOURNALIST: Have they asked for a meeting with you?

WONG: Well, I had, as you know, I think publicly, had a discussion with Mr Robb. This is some time ago, since then there has been no formal approach from the opposition on their position on the Bil

l. What I do know from the media is that we have a range of different positions - a veritable buffe t of positions - from the opposition.

JOURN

ALIST: Is your argument that (inaudible)

WONG: No, the test for Malcolm Turnbull is to come forward with a coherent position on climate cha nge. That is the test of leadership. He has not done that.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t there a test of leadership for you to get the Bill through?

WONG: Well, we’ve put the Bill to the Parliament. We’ll continue to work to get it through. We think this is what the Australian people want. This is what we went to the election with and I think it’s g

ood if Senators perhaps could lift their gaze and look to what their constituents are saying and look to what the Australian people are saying. Australians know climate change is occurring, they want action on it. We know what the rest of the world is doing. We know at the G8, for example, the world’s major economies again urged for action on climate change. This is the right thing to do for our economy, for our environment and for our children.

JOURNALIST: In that case will the Prime Minister show leadership and follow Rio’s lead and embrace clean green nuclear energy?

WONG: Well, that’s an interesting non sequitur there. Rio Tinto are entitled to their view. Our view is clear. It is the same view with which we went to the election and that is Australia has a range of energy sources. We are blessed with both conventional energy sources and also potential re

newable energy sources: solar, wind, wave, geothermal and that our focus as a government is on deve

loping those resources and we’ve put in place very substantial policies to drive investment in the clea n energy, the renewable energies which will be the way of the future.

JOURNALIST: Has the Government sought advice on whether the referral of the ETS legislation in June could be viewed as a first step in a double dissolution?

WONG: I don’t comment on whether or not legal advice has been sought nor given. What I will sa y is that we will present this legislation again to the Senate in August and in 22 days Mr Turnbull

ha

s to decide if he is going to take a position on climate change, if he is going to take action on c

limate change or whether he will continue to lead a party divided.

JOURNALIST: Is it your view however if it is defeated in 22 days again then that could be the second stage of a double dissolution?

WONG: Look, you’re asking me now for a legal view, and I am not responding to that. We made c lear what our position is: we want a vote, we want to bring it on for a vote and we would urge the

opposi

tion to support it.

JOURNALIST: (INAUDIBLE)

WONG

: Can I say first there is in your question an incorrect assertion. In fact the assistance under the W axman Markey Bill allocated for the Emissions-Intensive Trade-Exposed sector is less than that which is allocated under the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, so that’s the first thing. But what is important, and obviously the Waxman Markey Bill has passed the House of R

epresentatives, but has yet to pass the US Senate, what is important about that legislation is that it demonstrates that the United States is serious about action on climate change. They’re serious about a cap and trade scheme - the same type of scheme as the Federal Government is putting forward to the Senate. What we are doing is consistent with the world’s leading economies are doing or have done

- it’s Mr Turnbull who is behind the times.

JOURNALIST: Is it relevant to you whether the Coalition is divided or not if enough of them vote for the Bill to go through?

WONG: We want the Bill passed but I think what’s important is that Mr Turnbull shows some leadership. This Bill will come up for a vote in 22 days. He’s got to decide on this issue that is so important to the nation whether he is going to lead or whether he is going to allow for those people in his party room who do not want action on climate change to retain control.

JOURNALIST: If we mine the uranium, why don’t you use it?

WONG: Well I think I have answered that question. We have a very clear view that Australia is blesse d with conventional energy resources, as well as renewable energy resources and our focus as

a nation should be on developing those technologies in renewable energy. That’s why we have got our renewable energy target, to drive investment in the technologies that increasingly the world will need.

JOURNALIST: On that point though, the Greens and conservation groups have long said that carbon capture and storage will produce enormous quantities of un-storable CO2, what are the figures, with the coal that we burn, if we were to capture all the CO2 from the burning of the CO2 how big would that be and where would it be stored?

WONG: Well this is - can I start with the first part of your question. There are those who oppose investment in carbon capture and storage and to them I would say this: whether for Australia or the wor

ld, coal will remain a significant source of energy. So, if you are serious about tackling climate change, you have to find a lower emissions solution for coal. Even with all the investment in renewables that the Government is making, the reality is that globally we know coal will continue to be used. So it is absolutely not just in Australia’s national interest, but in the global interest for us to find

a technology that enables carbon capture and storage.

Thank you.