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Wednesday, 5 June 2002
Page: 3163

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. On World Environment Day, is the Prime Minister aware of last week's ratification of the Kyoto protocol on climate change by the European Union and yesterday's ratification by Japan? Given the Prime Minister's statement that the government is committed to meeting Australia's 2010 Kyoto target for greenhouse gas emissions, isn't it in Australia's interests to ratify the Kyoto protocol, thereby helping to ensure that other countries meet their targets and enabling Australian industry to benefit from emissions trading and other flexibility mechanisms under the protocol?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question. It is not in Australia's interests to ratify the Kyoto protocol. The reason it is not in Australia's interests to ratify the Kyoto protocol is that, because the arrangements currently exclude—and are likely under present settings to continue to exclude—both developing countries and the United States, for us to ratify the protocol would cost us jobs and damage our industry. That is why the Australian government will continue to oppose ratification. You cite the example of Japan. Japan is a massive energy importer; Australia is a massive net exporter of energy. One of the things that makes Australia almost unique in this context is that as a developed country we are a major net exporter of energy. The idea that you can sign up to a protocol that would facilitate the export of dirty industries from this country into developing countries and thereby facilitate the flight of jobs from this country—

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition! The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr HOWARD —It amazes me that a Labor Party that claims, from time to time, to represent the interests of the working men and women of this country would sign up to an arrangement that would hurt this country. As with so many things—indeed as with all things—this government will continue above everything else to assert the Australian national interest. The Australian national interest does not lie in ratifying Kyoto: that is why we are opposed to it.

The SPEAKER —The member for Fremantle is aware that the chair has never denied her the right to the call when the standing orders offer it.