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Prime Minister proposes meeting with states on water policy and climate change; Opposition Leader announces a climate change summit.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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AM

 

Monday 5 February 2007

Prime Minister proposes meeting with states on water policy and climate change; Opposition Leader announces a climate change summit

 

TONY EASTLEY: The verdict is in on the devastating effects of climate change, and globally scientists are pointing the finger at human and government failure. 

 

The immediate challenge for administrations everywhere is how to respond to the damning report.  

 

Australia is not a participant the Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas emissions and it's the world's largest exporter of coal. 

 

John Howard wants all the Premiers and chief ministers to get together this Thursday to discuss water, but Labor's Kevin Rudd wants a broader discussion.  

 

He's announced his own national summit on climate change to be held late next month or early April.  

 

Federal politicians are gathering in Canberra for the first sitting week of what will be a punishing election year. 

 

Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann reports. 

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Paul Keating famously described himself as the Placido Domingo of Australian politics. Recently dumped minister Amanda Vanstone also clearly has an eye on a place in the politico-musical pantheon: penning the libretto to a new patriotic song. 

 

(Sound of patriotic song: "Home to first Australians, joined from near and far. Shining like …") 

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: So it's appropriate that the leads in this year's election campaign were on the same page of the political songbook yesterday, announcing duelling summits on water and climate change. 

 

JOHN HOWARD: I'm therefore proposing that there be a meeting in Canberra next Thursday morning of the relevant states.  

 

KEVIN RUDD: I will be convening a national summit on climate change.  

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: The summits are a sign that water is biting deep as an election issue and Kevin Rudd knows that, in the public's mind, the drought cannot be separated from climate change. 

 

KEVIN RUDD: You cannot deal effectively with the water crisis unless at the same time you are dealing with climate change.  

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: A weakness in the Government's response to climate change to date has been that it's loathe to put a price on carbon. The strongest hint that this is about to change came in a pre-recorded statement John Howard releases every Sunday.  

 

JOHN HOWARD: Market mechanisms, including carbon pricing, will be integral to any long-term response to climate change. 

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Mr Rudd has some holes in his own plans. He says he wants the best possible responses to global warming to be raised at his summit. 

 

KEVIN RUDD: I am open to the best ideas in the country.  

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: But not if one of them means embracing nuclear power.  

 

KEVIN RUDD: On the question of nuclear reactors in this country, no.  

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Prime Minister's $10-billion national water security plan has been given qualified support by the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria.  

 

South Australian Premier Mike Rann says he's willing to bargain away his state's constitutional rights over water, as long as the rivers are run by an independent body. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie bought into the debate yesterday. 

 

PETER BEATTIE: The problem we have is that what the Prime Minister is doing is good politics but it's bad management and it's bad for Australia.  

 

CHRIS UHLMANN: One thing is clear from the rhetoric of all the leaders on this -they're getting the message from the public that it wants solutions, not infighting. So the chances are good that there will be a compromise on the Commonwealth's water plan. 

 

TONY EASTLEY: Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann.