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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8425


Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia) (21:26): Of course the reason for going down this path is that Senator Milne is putting such store in the operations of this Climate Change Authority. Senator Milne is willing to oppose a legislative amendment that would encourage greater rates of emissions reductions because she has such faith and such confidence that this Climate Change Authority will clearly do her bidding for her, so will clearly deliver the outcome that the Greens wish to see. I would hope you can understand, Minister, the concern on this side. We are worried about this. If this is to be an independent authority then it should be truly independent. That means it should not be filled with people who come in with positions that the Greens have encouraged so those people share those with the Greens to start with and have predetermined outcomes in mind in any way, shape or form. If this is to be independent then it needs to have absolute integrity surrounding it. So there is genuine concern here that, because the Greens have put such stock in this, they are willing to throw out everything they used to stand for in terms of the types of amendments that they would vote for in this place. They are actually willing to vote against an amendment encouraging higher emissions reductions targets.

Senator Ronaldson: Extraordinary.

Senator BIRMINGHAM: It is extraordinary, Senator Ronaldson. It is amazing to think that the Greens would not be voting for higher emissions reductions targets in this chamber and that the only reason that Senator Milne can give is her supreme confidence that this Climate Change Authority will deliver for her. Minister, you, on behalf of the government, reassure us time and time again that the government remains committed to the five per cent reduction target by 2020 and that, of course, there would have to be a change to international circumstances. Well, Senator Milne argues that the international conditions have already been met for a 15 per cent reduction. So, Minister, perhaps firstly you could tell me whether you agree with Senator Milne that the international conditions have already been met for that 15 per cent reduction. Again I invite you to provide a cast-iron assurance to the Senate in committee that the Greens will not be playing a role in the appointment of members to this authority.