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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7832

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:07 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the recent comments of the climate change minister, Senator Wong:

We’ve always said there will be details we want to continue to work through …

Will the Prime Minister explain to the House the timetable for the completion of the design of the government’s flawed emissions trading scheme? Why won’t the government make the common-sense decision to defer the final design until after the Copenhagen conference in December?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question. I have listened very careful not only to his comments in the House today on this matter but to his comments over some time on this matter as well. It may be that the honourable member has forgotten the fact that in this place—or, in fact, in his public commentary on climate change—only one year ago he said the following:

… “our first-hand experience in implementing … an emissions trading system” would be of considerable assistance in our international discussions and negotiations aimed at achieving an effective global … agreement.

That is what the Leader of the Opposition had to say last year—in other words, that it would be an important stepping stone towards an international agreement. That was the statement last year. The statement as of today is that in fact the Australian action on this should postdate an international agreement at Copenhagen. When we are dealing with something as serious as climate change, I believe consistency is important. The honourable member also goes to another point, which is the basis for their engagement with possible changes to the legislation over time. Can I simply say to the honourable member that a precondition for that is for those opposite to have a policy, and can I say that here we are, 20 months into the history of this government, 12 years after those opposite were confronted with the same reality, and as of—

Mr Hockey —Twelve years?

Mr RUDD —‘Twelve years?’ the member for North Sydney interjects incredulously. For 12 years those opposite were in power and did not act on an emissions trading scheme. Twenty months into the history of this government, we are therefore 13½ to 14 years on and, as of this day in August 2009, there is no policy from the Liberal Party and the National Party on an emissions trading scheme. Therefore, as we approach the debate—and we have encountered it today in the Senate—those opposite have in fact not had a basis to put forward amendments because they cannot agree on policy.

I would say to the honourable member that it is a very disappointing day indeed for Australia when the Liberal Party and the National Party cannot even become united enough to have a single united voice on climate change, let alone a voice which could act in support of this nation’s long-term interests on climate change by voting for the legislation in the Senate. Today they have chosen to do the reverse and, as a consequence, put Australia’s future on climate change in grave jeopardy.