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Transcript of interview with Marius Benson: ABC News Radio: 12 October 2009: Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

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PW 300/09

12 October 2009




JOURNALIST: Penny Wong, when will you sit down with Ian Macfarlane and possibly Malcolm Turnbull and discuss the Opposition’s views on your emissions trading legislation?

WONG: Well we have been saying for months now that if the Opposition are able to put serious amendments to the Government that have the support of their party room we are prepared to have a good faith negotiation. Let’s remember that as yet the Opposition, despite all of their talk and all of their excuses, has not put forward a single amendment on this legislation, this action on climate change which is so important to Australia’s future.

JOURNALIST: Well the Opposition hasn’t decided on its amendments yet but it will decide it hopes, according to Malcolm Turnbull, on Sunday. If it’s settled on Sunday when will you talk to the Opposition?

WONG: If they put forward amendments we will obviously make arrangements as quickly as we are able to. We have always been upfront that we will do that. Can I say that the opposition I think does have a fair amount of work to do. We see today that there appears to be significant and big errors in their costings from the Frontier Economics report. A $3.2 billion dollar black hole in their alternative modelling for a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Really Mr Turnbull and the Opposition have to come forward with amendments which are fiscally responsible and the Government is absolutely willing to do what we said we would do, which is to have a good faith negotiation.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition says that criticism of the $3.2 billion dollar black hole is based on modelling and not their policy and specifically they said at the time that it was not their policy. Now the Government has been pretty ferocious in its attacks on the Opposition on this occasion on this alleged black hole, but generally as well. It’s an odd way to approach a negotiating table to be hammering the other side about the head like that isn’t?

WONG: What we are saying to the Opposition is that you need to put forward amendments that are fiscally responsible to deal with this legislation responsibly. Let’s just remember what has occurred here. Over the last almost a year we have had nothing other than a series of excuses from the Opposition about why they cannot have a position. I recall them saying last year, in 2008, they would have a position after the Garnaut review, then they were going to have a position after the White Paper was launched, then they were going to have a position after their own review was done, then they were going to have a position after the draft legislation was released and then they were going to have a position after the legislation went into the Parliament. All of those points have been passed and we still have not a single amendment from the Opposition. What we do have is enormous division and a focus on internal Liberal Party politics rather than what’s in the national interest. So I think it’s entirely reasonable that Australians expect the Opposition to behave

responsibly in this debate, let’s remember Mr Howard went to the election with a commitment also an emissions trading scheme.

JOURNALIST: Will you be negotiating with the Greens as well?

WONG: Well I have not yet seen the amendments that the Greens are putting forward. I understand they have made some public comments about them. They have not yet come to me personally. We’ll certainly consider their amendments and, as always, be prepared to have a good dialogue with the cross benchers. Obviously the Greens alone cannot enable passage of this legislation, we either would have to get Senator Xenophon and Fielding as well or we have to get support from the Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST: Ok I’ll leave it there Penny Wong. Thank you very much.

WONG: Good to speak with you.