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Transcript of joint doorstop: Chapman, Canberra: 28 March 2007: climate change; David Hicks.

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Subjects: Climate Change; David Hicks;

RUDD: Well it’s good to be here in Chapman today with Phil and with Soph [May] and baby Abi and their home based business Solartech and with Peter Garrett, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and the Environment. We’re here today to talk about climate change and we’re here today to talk about the role of renewable energy. We’re pleased today to be able to announce Labor’s new Solar Home Plan. Under the Solar Home Plan which we’ll be putting forward for the next election, we’ll be providing $50 million to provide [subsidies] rebates of up to $4,000 for homes right across Australia to encourage people to adopt solar power for their home requirements.

We believe that renewable energy is the key part of Australia’s future response to the challenge of climate change. We believe that solar power is the key part of Australia’s response to climate change. That’s why we want to put this initiative forward as a positive step forward in our response to a national challenge and an international challenge. It also helps families do their bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If this program is taken up, it will have the equivalent of reducing some 18,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year - that’s a significant contribution.

But, of course we’ve got much, much further to go as well, 18,000 tons reduction in greenhouse gases is the equivalent of taking something like 4000 motor vehicles off the road. That I think, is a useful and positive step forward. It comes on the back of a problem we’ve got at the moment which is that the Government’s existing photovoltaic rebate scheme is due to phase out as of June this year. This is a practical proposal we’re putting forward, we think it’s the right way to go.

One other thing I’d just like to talk about today is this: and this is we have Sir Nicholas Stern in Australia, we have him in Canberra today, he’s a welcome guest to our country. He has done some important, international work on the whole question of putting forward to the international community, the economic cost of not acting on climate change and the jobs cost of not acting on climate change. Sir Nicholas Stern, in his Report has indicated that the global economy could shrink by as much as 20 per cent if we fail to act on the global challenge of

climate change. In other words, climate change is not just an environmental challenge, it’s an economic challenge and it’s a challenge to jobs as well.

I notice today that Mr Howard has also indicated that his Government is implementing the sorts of recommendations which Stern has put forward. I’m not so certain about that. Sir Nicholas Stern has recommended that we ratify Kyoto,

we have that as a policy, the Government does not. Sir Nicholas Stern has recommended that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, that’s Labor’s policy - it’s not the Government policy. Sir Nicholas Stern has practical proposals along these lines which we have acted on, but the Government continues to oppose. Happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: Sir Nicholas Stern has also said 30 per cent reductions are need within 13 years from now, will you commit to that (inaudible)

RUDD: Our policy is 60 per cent by 2050, we believe that when it comes to the design of an emissions trading scheme, that we’re going to have to look at how that is then engineered with a series of staged targets between now and 2050. That, I think, is the responsible way forward and one of the things we’ll be debating and discussing this Saturday at Labor’s National Climate Change Summit, is the specific elements of the architecture (inaudible) trading scheme and therefore the (inaudible) type which should be aimed for between now and 2050.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says that the Government’s already doing much of what Nicholas Stern’s recommended.

RUDD: Well to repeat, Sir Nicholas Stern recommends that we ratify Kyoto, the Government refuses to ratify Kyoto - Labor’s policy is to ratify Kyoto. Sir Nicholas Stern recommends a 60 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target by 2050, that’s Labor’s policy, the Government opposes that policy. I think the differences are very clear-cut.

JOURNALIST: You speak about the costs of not combating climate change, but we see with one of these solar panels that it would cost an average family, about what $16 grand to put one up? That’s fairly hefty isn’t it to reduce household emissions?

RUDD: It is a significant upfront capital cost, that’s why we want to put forward a practical, long-term policy whereby we can reduce that capital cost by about 25 per cent. If you look at the ceiling for our proposed rebate, which is $4,000 a hit, then we think that is a significant incentive when it comes to making it more possible for working families. Of course, over time the impact which solar panels have on electricity costs represents a significant reduction for families.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) I mean if people are struggling to even buy a home, an extra, even if you get it down to $12,000, that’s another large amount.

RUDD: We think it’s a practical step forward, is it the perfect solution - no? Does it remove the upfront costs in investing in solar panels - no? But we do think it’s a practical form of assistance and we put this forward because the Government has not indicated that it will be continuing it’s own photovoltaic rebate scheme beyond June 2007. We therefore want to say to the Australian people, solar energy is part of Australia’s future; solar energy is part of our future response to climate change. Therefore let’s make Labor’s Solar Home Plan one within practical reach of families across the country. I think, on that question of solar, I’ll ask Peter to add some comments as well.

GARRETT: Thank you Kevin. Australian solar industry has basically not had the opportunity to flourish under 11 years of the Howard Government when we were once world leaders in solar energy technology. And the appetite for the Australian public for Australia to go solar is huge. There are a number of additional savings that attach to being able to go solar for Australian homes. They include reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that go into the atmosphere. They include reducing your electricity bills over the longer term, it adds value to your house.

It’s something that Australians really want to get into and they want to get into it now. And given that this continent receives just about more sunlight than any other equivalent continent on earth where people live, it is a tragedy that we haven’t had a really robust solar industry operating in this country providing clean and green power and providing people with the opportunity to have solar panels on their homes and to generate clean electricity for themselves. So, this is a very necessary step. It’s a good way of conveying climate change and it’s something that the Australian public really do want.

JOURNALIST: Do you think consumers are ready to pay more to combat climate change, viz-a-viz the costs are going to go up?

GARRETT: Well, the key thing here is that people want to set themselves up in such a way that they know that they’re making a difference in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions and they’re willing to do that. The people who live here clearly are making a huge difference to their greenhouse gas emissions by having a solar system on their roof. And additionally, for people in different States who are facing different rules and regulations from the States in terms of meeting greenhouse gas reductions, solar, again, is a positive way for them to go forward. It’s very clear that the industry is on the cusp of great growth. We’re seeing an increase in PVs and solar technology worldwide. It’s a growth industry in Japan. It’s a growth industry in Germany where they’ve got the right signals in place and it should be a growth industry in Australia.

RUDD: I think the thing also is that if you encourage solar by way of this sort of national subsidy, or rebate scheme, what happens is that you encourage the industry more broadly. And if you do that, ultimately our objective would be to see manufacturing costs come down. If that’s the case then of course it becomes more and more accessible over time to families to purchase. So, we see this as one practical step forward. It’s not the total solution but it’s a practical step forward and we want to embrace solar as part of Australia’s long term energy future, rather than leave it languish as simply an also-ran.

JOURNALIST: Have you got solar power at your house?

RUDD: We’ve actually had the solar technicians in to look at our house and one of the problems - I was actually discussing this with Phil before - is the way our house is positioned on the side of a hill in Brissy, we’re actually facing the wrong way. We’re still getting more consultants in to see what can be done but we’re in a perfect position, given Brisbane’s weather, to be as cool as possible, lots of trees and all the rest of it, but we’re not in a perfect position when it comes to installing solar. So, we’re going to get some more solar technicians in.

JOURNALIST: So, lots of other people would be in the same situation. Is it the solution to climate change?

RUDD: Well, as I said before, this does not represent the total solution at all but it’s part of the solution. Part of the solution lies in renewable energy and, therefore, raising Australia’s overall renewable energy targets. Our renewable energy performance compared with comparable economies is very poor. We need to boost renewable energies in general. Solar is the most greenhouse-friendly energy available on the planet and, therefore, we just need to take some practical steps to make it possible for as many families as possible to invest in this.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) important in combating climate change and is keeping our forests in place and Labor’s (inaudible) backing down on its protection of forests in Tasmania. That’s going to raise the ire of the Greens.

RUDD: Oh, no, look, when it comes to forest policy, we believe in a balanced approach. We want to make sure that there are appropriate conservation levels right across the country. And forests are important for the future. It’s all part of the fabric of an integrated response to climate change. And to go back to the total set of our policies, we have a policy of ratifying Kyoto - the

Government does not. We have a policy of a greenhouse gas emission target of reducing that by 60 per cent by 2050 - the Government doesn’t have that. We have a half a billion dollar National Clean Coal Initiative - the Government does not have that. We have a half a billion dollar Green Car Innovation Fund - the Government doesn’t have that. We are committed to a national demand side

manage strategy - the Government’s not committed to that. I think the alternatives are very clear on this question.

JOURNALIST: Do you think David Hicks, as an issue, is now gone in the lead-up to the election?

RUDD: Look, the key question, when it relates to that matter, is to ensure that the current legal process is allowed to unfold without impediment, and without impediment, I mean external political commentary. I note carefully what Mr Howard had to say yesterday about this in Parliament. We have entered into a new legal phase when it comes to the Hicks matter. That new phase, on my analysis, has at least four stages within it. I think we need to be very mindful of that process in not making unnecessary comment.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) on whether it’s going to be an election issue, though, it’s hardly going to hurt the judicial process (inaudible).

RUDD: I think the key thing that is at stake here is to ensure that we get the most appropriate legal outcome possible, given the legal circumstances in which Mr Hicks and his defence team are now located. That’s the key question here. In terms of how the Australian community reacts to this more broadly, that’s a matter for them come election time. We’ve already made our points very clearly between when this matter first arose through until the convening of this US Military Commission in terms of our views of this matter. I’ve said a thousand times that we’re no defenders of Mr Hicks and what he’s done, or alleged to have done. We’ve simply been a defender of Mr Hicks and every Australian citizen’s legal rights and human rights. But we’ve now entered a new complex, delicate legal phase of this process.

JOURNALIST: But the fact that he’s pleaded guilty, is that a vindication of how the Howard Government’s tough stance in this whole (inaudible)?

RUDD: No, on the question of the detail of what Mr Hicks has pled and what response will be delivered to that in terms of the next stage of the legal process on the settlement of the facts and on the determination of any sentence and on the application of any appeal process, let alone the application of the International Prisoner Transfer Agreement which might flow from that, these are all delicate processes still to be worked through.

JOURNALIST: You say that the process should be left to run its course, but you’ve been very critical of that process in the past (inaudible).

RUDD: We have made our position absolutely clear cut in terms of the US Military Commission process up until now. We have now entered into a new legal phase. I’ve been carefully monitoring the statements which have been made in relation to this new complex, delicate legal phase in which we’ve

entered. We are mindful very much of the rights of individuals associated with that process right now and I’m very mindful of what Mr Howard had to say yesterday in the Parliament about refraining from further public comment until we reach a conclusion of this process. I think we’ve got to be mindful of all of that.