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Opinion poll shows that 75 per cent of people want more action on climate change.

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Thursday 2 November 2006

Opinion poll shows that 75 per cent of people want more action on climate change


TONY EASTLEY: Dire predictions about the global environment have been dominating the news for weeks, so perhaps it's no surprise that a new opinion poll out today has found most Australians think more needs to be done to combat climate change. 


Commissioned by a coalition of greens groups, the News Online poll has found 75 per cent of voters want the Government to sign the Kyoto Protocol, and 80 per cent think the big polluters should pay a tax on their emissions. And the figures show it's not just Labor and Greens voters who want change. 


From Canberra Gillian Bradford reports. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Climate change has been the most fiercely debated topic in Federal Parliament all week. 


ANTHONY ALBANESE: No one can believe, John Howard takes climate change seriously. 


JOHN HOWARD: The thing that matters is doing things. You know, talk about, you know, hot air. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: And off the back of daily headlines on drought, lack of water, and the potentially catastrophic costs of climate warming, comes a poll that shows an overwhelming majority of Australians, 92 per cent, think the Government isn't doing enough to encourage clean technologies. 


Danny Kennedy is from Greenpeace. 


DANNY KENNEDY: This is very much the roar of the mainstream. It's not the sidelines and shouts from the fringes. That's what the Prime Minister has to do, he has to abandon his loyalty to King Coal, and start listening to the public. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: The poll has also found 75 per cent of Australians want the Federal Government to sign the Kyoto Protocol and commit to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it isn't just Labor voters condemning the Government. Nearly as many Coalition supporters are calling for more action on climate change.  


The Environment Minister is Ian Campbell. 


IAN CAMPBELL: Oh look, there is no doubt we've got work to so on addressing climate change both globally and domestically. I mean this week alone the Government has rolled out hundreds of millions of dollars of programs, last week the very biggest solar power station to be built anywhere on the planet. We have been working very hard on these.  


But the figures are not surprising. I think Australians are very concerned to see what will happen to Australia as a result of climate change and what will happen to the world, and they want to see their Government working on it. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Because the figures do show that it's not just a fringe groups, green groups, people on the sidelines calling for change. This is mainstream Australia. 


IAN CAMPBELL: I've always thought this is a mainstream issue, and I think that what's bringing it home to suburban Australia and mainstream Australia more than ever before, are things like restrictions on water, not being able to wash your car, not being able to water your gardens - things that Australians have taken for granted for a long time.  


And they're linking that to what they are seeing as a change in their climate, and they want to see not only the Australian Government but, I think, governments internationally working together in a serious way. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: So what do you say when 92 per cent of Australians don't think you're doing enough to invest in clean, renewable energy? 


IAN CAMPBELL: Well, I think that we are, we have some, well I know we have some of the world's leading programs in terms of renewable energy.  


GILLIAN BRADFORD: But people obviously think that's piecemeal, they are not getting a sense that you are doing enough overall. 


IAN CAMPBELL: I think one of the reasons, and I don't what to kill the messenger, and I don't want to blame other people, I mean this is a lot of my responsibility and the Government's responsibility. But when we make announcements, for example when the Prime Minister announced the Adelaide solar city proposal, a multi million dollar program to turn entire suburbs across to solar power, it didn't rate a mention on any news that we saw. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: You are saying there is just a problem with how much publicity you are getting, or are you admitting that, yes, you do need to do more? 


IAN CAMPBELL: Look, I don't, I think the messenger side of it is really peripheral. We have to, in politics, be good communicators, and that comes down to a range of things.  


The real thing that matters for the climate, and the real thing that matters for the people of Australia is real action to address the real problem. I know we have got some very good programs in place to do that. I also know that will need to do more and will do more. That's what really counts. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Labor's Environment Spokesman Anthony Albanese says he didn't need a poll to tell him that the Government is way out of step with public opinion. 


ANTHONY ALBANESE: Wherever I've been right around the nation, Australians know that we've had a reduction in rainfall, that we are experiencing a drought beyond normal drought conditions. They know that we've had an increase in extreme weather events. Indeed they know that 2005 was the hottest year on record, and that record is likely to be broken this year. And they know that the Howard Government is frozen in time while the globe warms around it.  


TONY EASTLEY: Labor's Anthony Albanese, ending that report from Gillian Bradford.