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Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Page: 1234

Senator McLUCAS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing) (11:00 AM) —What I can tell the senator is that the government’s commitment to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is well understood by the community. It is well understood by the government and it is a whole-of-government approach. It is clearly different from the previous government—I think both speakers this morning have recognised that fact—and it is something that we intend to do.

What we have done so far in 120 days is that Senator Wong, the Minister for Climate Change and Water, has put down her plan to establish an emissions-trading scheme. She has been open and transparent with the community about how we are going to achieve that. I am sure you know about the proposals from the government around the question of the mandatory renewable energy target that we said in opposition was not working and that we now have said we will deal with. You may not know that the Climate Change Task Force, headed by Roger Wilkins, will review every program and every activity of the government to assess its climate change implications. You cannot ask for much more than what we have said is the early days, the early start to a climate change agenda.

I think the Australian community will believe that the commitment from the Prime Minister passing down across every department to deal with dangerous climate change is a heartfelt and strong commitment. It is about dealing with something that would end in a lot of trouble if we did not. I think the leadership that our Prime Minister showed in Bali in particular was extraordinarily well received. You have both made that point. But it is not just about icons; this is real. This is something that we know we have to do.

The amendments that you propose do not assist in that process. The bill does indicate that climate change will be a consideration. It is not in the place that you would like, but it is there. That commitment will be carried through. We will disagree on where it should appear in that part of the legislation, but I think you can take it from all of the government, not just from me, that we are absolutely aware of the responsibility that we have to pick up the climate change ball and get on with the job of dealing with this not just for Australia but, as you both know, to play our part in the international sphere.