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Government to scrap Greenhouse Office?

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KELVIN THOMSONMedia Release from the Shadow Minister for Environment & Heritage Government to scrap Greenhouse Office? When the Howard Government set up the Australian Greenhouse Office in 1998 they trumpeted its establishment as ‘the world’s first Government agency dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions’. Reports that failed former Liberal Minister Warwick Smith has recommended the ‘downgrade’ of the office will make Australia the first country to both have a greenhouse agency and the first to get rid of it.

The Howard Government has failed to deliver on climate change and the effects of this are plain to see. Minister Kemp has ignored the office, left it rudderless following the resignation of its leadership and appears set to get rid of it all together.

If this recommendation is accepted it is a clear sign that the Howard Government is not the slightest bit sincere about meeting our Kyoto greenhouse gas emissions targets. Since the Australian Greenhouse Office was established, future greenhouse gas emission projections have blown out dramatically.

Mr Smith’s task should have been to establish why the Australian Greenhouse Office, under the direction of the Howard Government has failed so spectacularly to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. He has chosen not to do that and rather he has taken the political option of recommending that the office be effectively scrapped.

The chaos that exists in the Greenhouse Office is typical of the Government’s lack of commitment to cutting emissions. There is no commitment, just ignorance and hubris.

The ignorance and hubris was shown recently when it was revealed that the Greenhouse Office opposed the Howard Government’s recent decision to give up to $36m per annum subsidy to the Stuart Oil Shale Project.

Since Minister Kemp has assumed the portfolio the Government has taken no notice of the Greenhouse Office whatsoever. This has clearly given rise to great frustration in the Greenhouse Office, leading to leaked documents concerning greenhouse emissions projections and also the Stuart Oil Shale subsidy.

Instead of responding to that frustration, the government is apparently vindictively seeking to attack and diminish the Greenhouse Office.

This is a classic case of shooting the messenger. The Greenhouse Office contains many skilled and talented staff. The Government needs to take their advice seriously and take the issue of climate change much more seriously, starting with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

For Further Information: Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 03 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594882

Wednesday 10 July 2002