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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 9 July 2008: Signaller Sean McCarthy; troops in Afghanistan; emissions trading.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP

9 July 2008

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. DR BRENDAN NELSON MP, DOORSTOP INTERVIEW SYDNEY

Subjects: Signaller Sean McCarthy; troops in Afghanistan; emissions trading.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………......

DR NELSON:

This is a very sad day for Australia. The death of Signaller Sean McCarthy reminds us that there are some values by which we live as Australians that are worth fighting to defend. And Signaller McCarthy has given his life in our name, in the cause of fighting extremism and the Taliban in particular in Afghanistan.

We should remember that we are in Afghanistan and we have to see this job through because in part 88 Australians, innocent Australians, were murdered in Bali in 2002 by three men who had trained with al Qaeda under the protection of the Taliban.

Our thoughts go out to Signaller McCarthy’s family, those who loved him, his mates, soldiers of the Australian Army, but most importantly we as Australians must strengthen our resolve to see this through.

Our generation is fighting a resurgent totalitarianism and extremism in the form of Islamic extremism by people throughout the world, the centre of which is Afghanistan, who’ve highjacked the good name of Islam to build a violent, political utopia.

The struggle in Afghanistan in which Australian soldiers are engaged is essential for the free world that we want for the next generation, and that is why Australia has to be determined to see this through.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] Bob Brown [inaudible]

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DR NELSON:

I could not disagree more strongly with what Senator Brown has said. It is absolutely essential that every one of us remember the faces of every one of those 88 innocent Australians who were murdered in Bali in 2002 by three men who trained in Afghanistan with al Qaeda under the protection of the Taliban.

It is not only about the freedom of the Afghan people, the education of children, the equal treatment of women; it is also about the kind of world in which we want to live. If we want to live in a world that is free of terrorism and free of tyranny that is driven by fundamentalist extremists, who train in and come from Afghanistan, then it’s essential that we see this job through.

We are very proud of the men and women of the Australian Army. We are proud of Signaller McCarthy. We are proud of the fact that they wear our uniform; under our flag and in our name stand up for values by which we as Australians live.

It’s essential that we continue to fight these terrorists in their own backyard so that they don’t get into ours here in Australia. That’s why we are there. That’s why we have to see the job through and that’s why we honour him and those other five Australians who have given their lives in Afghanistan by continuing to see the job through.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] Australians in Afghanistan [inaudible]

DR NELSON:

Australia has done so well because of the high quality of our leadership, the training our soldiers undertake, the equipment with which they are provided and the Australian character and the way the Australian soldier goes about his or her work. The equipment that is provided to Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is amongst the best, if not the best, in the world.

We are engaged in a struggle against improvised explosive devices. They are increasingly complex and sophisticated. Australia is working with the United States in particular in technologies to address the threat of roadside improvised explosive devices. But the equipment that Australian troops have been provided with, whether it’s Bushmasters, ASLAVs or the other forms of electronic protection, is as good if not better than any other in any part of the world.

QUESTION:

Dr Nelson, on Monday you indicated that Australia shouldn’t sign up for emissions… or start an emissions trading scheme until the big emitters are also committed to doing the same thing. Yesterday Julie Bishop said that Coalition policy was a 2012 start

date. What is the policy for the Coalition?

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DR NELSON:

I’ll make it absolutely clear again. For the best part of a decade it has been the view of the Coalition that we have a responsibility as Australians and as global citizens to make a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change throughout the world. It is also equally important that we have an environmentally credible objective and one which is economically sustainable.

If Australia acts unilaterally without commitments from the major emitters - the United States, India and China in particular - we will do enormous damage to our own economy without any appreciable environmental gain at all.

As Liberals we believe in market solutions wherever possible. We support the implementation of an emissions trading scheme. We do not believe and are not confident that Mr Rudd can rush this through by 2010. And before the emissions trading scheme commences in Australia every effort must be made to make sure that the United States, China and India are committed to meaningful action in relation to climate change.

It will be an exercise in environmental futility and economic vandalism if Australia is not able to get the rest of the world, and the major emitters in particular, to specifically commit to targets and action in relation to climate change. All we will do in that circumstance is send jobs and industries from Australia without any environmental gain at all.

Even if you accept the Armageddon scenarios of Professor Garnaut and others of plague, pestilence, disease, drought and the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, amongst other things from climate change, it is the emissions from the major emitters

around the world that will be producing that, whereas Australia is only 1.4 per cent of global emissions.

We have a responsibility to act on climate change. It is now for our generation to begin to live on environmental interest instead of capital. But in doing so we must make absolutely sure that we go into this with our economic eyes wide open, that we are not supportive of the recklessness of Mr Rudd in trying to ram through the emissions trading scheme by 2010 without making sure that he’s thought it through, and also that the maximum pressure must be applied to the major emitters who must be committed to action if Australia is going to act.

I mean, it is our position and it has been and it continues to be that Australia’s response should be through an emissions trading scheme. It cannot responsibly begin any earlier than 2011 - preferably 2012 - and it should occur in an environment where we have commitments from the rest of the world.

Australians need to understand that China alone will over the next nine months increase its emissions by a level that is equivalent to Australia’s entire annual output. And the readers of the Herald Sun in Melbourne today are just getting a taste for what addressing climate change will mean in Australia, and that is that in the absence of well considered, responsible economic policy we may see ExxonMobil take its

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refinery from Victoria to another country, losing 350 jobs and putting upward pressure on petrol.

It is time for Mr Rudd to start to speak to Australians in plain English about what climate change and his policies are actually going to mean for petrol, for electricity prices, for jobs, industries and Australia’s economic future.

QUESTION:

Do you support a 2012 starting date no matter what? Or is it conditional on big emitters also signing up?

DR NELSON:

Again, our very strong and considered view is that you cannot confidently and responsibly begin an emissions trading scheme in Australia any earlier than late 2011 and preferably 2012. And that commencement date should occur in the context of having firm commitments from the rest of the world in terms of what they are going to do.

I make no apology for putting Australia first, putting Australia’s interests first; Australian jobs, Australian industries and Australia’s environment. We must act on climate change. We must do so with a sense of considered urgency and caution. But not with haste and not the way in which Mr Rudd is proposing to do it, which is much more style than substance, backswing rather than follow-through and he needs to stop talking Ruddish and start talking plain language to Australians about what this is actually going to mean.

QUESTION:

Should Australia postpone its proposed climate change [inaudible] the Coalition’s 2012 deadline if the big emitters haven’t got there?

DR NELSON:

There is no question that Mr Rudd should responsibly start to think through his own policies and postpone his implementation date of 2010. Can I put it to you - I am accused by some of, and the Coalition of seeking political opportunism in relation to climate change. Can I point out to you that if that was our position we would be supporting a 2010 start up date as proposed by Mr Rudd because that will do significant damage to the Government’s already diminishing reputation in an economy which is under significant stress and also it would mean a start up date which is well in advance of that which is responsible and can responsibly be done.

We have seen from the G8 a vision of a 50 per cent reduction by 2050. What does that actually mean? What will that mean in terms of real action from these major emitters? That’s the responsibility that we and the world have, and the pressure we need to apply to India, to China, the United States and the major emitters throughout the world.

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QUESTION:

But just to clarify, 2012 rolls around and the big emitters haven’t signed up or haven’t started a trading scheme; should Australia start it or not?

DR NELSON:

Well again I can’t be any clearer than to say that as far as we are concerned 2012 is the preferred start up date for an emissions trading scheme and it should occur in an environment where the blowtorch has been applied to the major emitters throughout the world and we have a commitment from them in terms of the action that they will actually undertake.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

DR NELSON:

I think Australia with some 1,070 troops in Afghanistan and approximately the ninth largest contributing country as a non NATO country has deployed I think responsibly the number of troops that we can sustain in Afghanistan for the task that’s ahead. The most important thing that we need to do is to understand the importance of the struggle in Afghanistan to our own freedoms and our way of life. We also need to maximise the pressure applied to the NATO countries to fully deploy their troops to Afghanistan and in particular a number of European countries that have their troops parked in the north of Afghanistan and get them further down into the south.

The other thing that is essential to the future of Afghanistan and prevailing in this military, economic and reconstruction task is the governance of Pakistan and doing everything that we possibly can to see that the Pakistan Government effectively administers those federally administered tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. That is what is essential.

Thanks very much everybody.

[ends]

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