Carbon questions to feature at COAG talks


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19-08-2011 08:15 AM


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ABC Canberra 666


19-08-2011 08:15 AM



19-08-2011 08:50 AM

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2011-08-19 08:15:28

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RANN, Mike



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Carbon questions to feature at COAG talks

Naomi Woodley reported this story on Friday, August 19, 2011 08:15:00

TONY EASTLEY: When they meet in Canberra today, state and territory leaders are promising to grill
the Federal Government over its proposed carbon tax.

Liberal premiers in particular have been raising concerns about the potential loss of thousands of
jobs once the tax is introduced, but that's been strongly disputed by the Prime Minister.

Today's Council of Australian Government's meeting is also expected to discuss plans for a
disability insurance scheme, mental health funding and the regulation of the transport industry.

From Canberra, here is Naomi Woodley.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Prime Minister hosted her state and territory counterparts at the Lodge last
night, but the mood may not be as conciliatory today.

The Liberal Premiers from WA, New South Wales and Victoria are determined to raise the
Commonwealth's proposed carbon tax.

WA's Colin Barnett has a lot of questions.

COLIN BARNETT: I mean there's been virtually no discussion with the states on the carbon tax
proposals and it has very big impacts impact on states, not only on the utilities such as energy
utilities and the like but some of these impacts on control of land, rights of states as the owners
of Crown land have just simply been ignored.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell is attending his first COAG meeting. He
and the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu in particular have been raising concerns about possible job

BARRY O'FARRELL: It should be a case of COAG cooperating for what is best for the country and a
carbon tax, given the current global circumstances, a carbon tax given its impact upon jobs and
families, is not the way to go.

NAOMI WOODLEY: It will be South Australian Premier Mike Rann's last COAG meeting and he has some
advice for the newcomers.

MIKE RANN: Where possible, it is good to avoid partisan politics. That is for the Parliament.

NAOMI WOODLEY: The Federal Government says it's no surprise that some states will be raising
concerns about the impact the tax will have on their electricity generators, although it disputes
their arguments about job losses. It is prepared to consider financial help for the states in some

But it's not just the Liberal premiers who have questions - the carbon tax is also one of the
priorities for the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

ANNA BLIGH: Queenslanders I think want to make sure that Queensland is looked after in any carbon
pricing package. My objective is to make sure Queensland goes first and that's what we'll be
putting to the Commonwealth. I've made it clear - Queensland wants to see a better deal out of the
carbon package. I'm going to keep negotiating until we get one.

NAOMI WOODLEY: And the Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson, says while the NT's
reliance on gas fired power is an advantage, he does have concerns about the proposed cut in diesel
fuel rebates.

PAUL HENDERSON: The cost of diesel in remote pastoral communities in terms of transport over very
long distance to isolated communities, we really need to see the Commonwealth modelling in terms of
the impacts of the removal of that subsidy in the Northern Territory. We have been unable to get it
as of yet and certainly I'll be calling on the Prime Minister to bring forward that modelling so I
can be confident that the tax cuts and the compensation measures are going to cover the loss of
that rebate.

NAOMI WOODLEY: But Queensland's Anna Bligh says the carbon tax is not the only issue on the agenda.

ANNA BLIGH: Carbon pricing will be one of the big issues on the agenda at COAG and I think
Australians would expect that but I think they also expect that we'll turn our minds to issues like
a national disability insurance scheme, better mental health services and issues around skills and
international education.

NAOMI WOODLEY: But with previous COAG meetings dominated by the health deal, both federal and state
sources are playing down expectations of a big ticket agreement today.

TONY EASTLEY: Naomi Woodley reporting.