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Transcript of interview with Ashleigh Gillon: Sky News am agenda: Climate Trust Board; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; Coalition division.

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PW 193/09 22 July 2009 TRANSCRIP






ALIST: Joining me here in Canberra this morning is the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, good morning.

WONG: Good morning to you.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday you appointed the former Howard Government Minister Robert Hill as the Chair of the Climate Trust Board. Why would you do that when you’ve so often labelled that government as the party of climate sceptics?

WONG: Well look, I know Robert personally. He’s had a very distinguished career. He was a very good representative for Australia to the United Nations and I appointed him because I believe he’s got the right skill set for this job, and I’ll think he’ll do an outstanding job.

JOURNALIST: It’s not just about putting pressure on Malcolm Turnbull?

WONG: Look, as I’ve said, I know Robert personally. Obviously he’s from South Australia - I’ve known him for quit e a number of years. When I went to the United Nations, to New York, he arranged a range of meetings for me and he set up a speech for me, and when I was on that trip it seemed to me he would be a very good person to appoint to an appropriate position. He’s got a very deep knowledge of these issues. I think he’ll bring the right skill set to what is an important job.

JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull has signalled recently that he may be open to support your Emissions Trading Scheme if there are some amendments. If the opposition does put forward some amendments, would the Government be willing to also put out an olive branch? Is there room for compromise here?

WONG: We’ve always said if the opposition want to put forward amendments, we’ll look at them but they haven’t put forward a single amendment. And you say to me Malcolm Turnbull signalled this

- there are a lot of signals over the last 48 hours. We’ve had Mr Turnbull saying: ‘We’ll amend it’. We’ve had Mr Robb, his Shadow Minister, saying: ‘we want to delay it’. We’ve had Senator Boswell and now Wilson Tuckey say: ‘We have to oppose it’. I don’t know what the opposition’s position is, but more importantly I don’t think the Australian people know. And on this issue which is so important to the nation, I think Australians would expect more from Malcolm Turnbull, more from his leadership than he is demonstrating.


: If Malcolm Turnbull puts forward amendments to do with more support for the coal sec tor, that would be a move that would potentially win some more support from some

Liberals and could potentially get the scheme through the Senate. Would that be something you’d be willing to consider?

WONG: I’m not going to get into a hypothetical discussion about amendments that the opposition may or may not move when all we have seen from them is a range of positions and constant division.

What we say to Mr Turnbull is this: in 22 days you are going to have to decide as leader of the party which way your Senators vote on this climate change legislation, which is important to the na

tion, important to our economy, important for our environment and important for the next generation. He’s going to have to decide and he’s got 22 days to show some leadership.

JOURNALIST: It’s not just the Coalition pushing for more support for the coal sector though, business has been calling for that as well for quite some time, if you did give the coal sector more support wouldn’t t

hat be a way for you to get your scheme through?

WONG: Well as I’ve said, I’ll wait and see what Mr Turnbull puts forward - if anything. At the mome nt he’s not putting forward anything. All we have from the opposition is a range of different views and

division. If they put forward something, we’ve always said we’ll look at it. We’re oblig

ed to do that - it’s the right thing to do. But as yet, we’ve not seen anything from Mr Turnbull other than c onstant changing of position and division in his own party room. He has to show some leadership - he knows what the right thing to do is. It’s quite clear that he knows what the right thi

ng to do is.

JOURNALIST: Couldn’t you take some leadership in providing more support for the coal sector in particular, because that means that you could get some Liberals on board regardless of what Malcolm Turnbull’s position ends up being?

WONG: Well look, we have shown leadership. We’ve done what we told the Australian people we would do before the election. We said we would introduce this sort of scheme. We’ve gone through a detailed process of consultation over a year with industry, including the coal sector. There may be pe

ople who want more assistance, businesses who want more money. That’s understandable, they have

lobbied for that. But we think we’ve got a scheme that reduces Australia’s carbon pollution and in which all of us can play our part, in which everyone does their fair share. What Mr Turnbull has to do is show some leadership and actually come up with a position.

JOURNALIST: If you did give some help to the coal sector though, just going back to this point that it is s omething that a lot of Liberals have been pushing for, do you think that that would convince the Liberals?

WONG: Well actually, what would convince the Liberals? You tell me. I mean, we have had a range of thought bubbles - a range of different views, completely opposite positions being put. Now the Government’s put forward our Bill. Our position is clear, it has been clear for sometime, we have legislation in the Parliament. If Mr Turnbull wants to engage constructively then he should do that. He has not done so to date and I think, as I said, Australians do expect more from the

alternative government than what we are seeing at the moment.

JOURNALIST: What about the commentary that you would perhaps rather watch the Coalition squabble a nd tear each other apart and let your ETS go down as a result?

WONG: Look, we were elected with a very clear election commitment and that was to take action on climate change. We have spent a lot of time, a lot of energy, and done a lot of work on getting

this scheme right - getting this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme right. We want this legislation passed. We have been absolutely clear about that. That this is important for the nation’s future, it is the right thing to do. We have worked very hard because we believe Australians do want action on climate change and we are determined to deliver on our election commitment. The people who are not, who are not recognising their own election commitment is the Liberal Party. Let’s remember Malcolm Turnbull’s party went to the election with a commitment to introduce a cap and trade scheme, an emissions trading scheme, They are the ones walking away from the own election commitment.

JOURNALIST: The independent senators also have serious doubts about this scheme, so do the Gre ens. The Family First Senator Steve Fielding has been making some headlines recently, he says

that he is not a climate change sceptic, but in the past few weeks he has been waving around a graph that he says is from the IPCC showing that over the past 15 years carbon emissions have sky rocketed while global temperatures have remained steady. Do you agree with that science?

WONG: No. I don’t. I don’t agree with his analysis of the facts and I think we go with the consensus science as a government - as have all other leading economies. Let’s remember the G8 just

recently in Italy - the leading major economies of the world - have all said this is an urgent c ritical problem. We need to act. Now, there is a reason why all the major e conomies in the world - wh

y governments are acting and that is the overwhelming science confirms that climate change is happening, and that human activity is contributing to it.


ALIST: So the Senator’s claim that global temperatures have remained steady over the last past 15 years, is that wrong?

WONG: Yes. He is wrong in the sense that if you look at the trend, it’s clear that temperatures have been rising. We have, in the past 14 years, past 15 years I think 13 or 14 of the hottest years in histor

y. I mean that is the trend and if you look at what the IPCC said; if you look at what our own scientis ts have said from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, they are all are very clear in their

advice to government: Climate change is occurring; there are severe consequences for Australi

a and that human activity, carbon pollution is contributing to it. Now it would be irre sponsible for any government to ignore that and that’s why no leading major economy is ignoring it, and that’s why this government will not ignore it.

JOURNALIST: Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, thank you for joining us this morning.


Good to be with you.