Turnbull takes aim at big business


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19-06-2009 12:15 PM


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Radio National


19-06-2009 12:15 PM



19-06-2009 01:21 PM

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2009-06-19 12:15:59

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CAVE, Peter


LAHEY, Katie, (BCA)

KIRK, Alexandra


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Turnbull takes aim at big business -

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Turnbull takes aim at big business

The World Today - Friday, 19 June , 2009 12:16:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: Big business has rebuffed Malcolm Turnbull's criticism that they're "snuggling up" to
Labor and his demand they publicly back the Coalition's strategy of amending then passing Kevin
Rudd's emissions trading scheme.

Mr Turnbull says they were intimidated by the Government.

The Business Council of Australia has dismissed the suggestions.

BCA chief executive Katie Lahey has told "The World Today" big business isn't in a position to back
the Coalition's stance because it doesn't know what its position on the carbon trading scheme is.

She told Alexandra Kirk her organisation is trying to work with both sides of politics.

KATE LAHEY: Well we think the emissions trading scheme is the way to go to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and that's the first point the Business Council would want to make. We do support a
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We think the ETS is one of the ways to achieve that.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: As is or amended in some way?

KATE LAHEY: We were very anxious to get the electricity and the coal sectors covered off properly
and some of the heavy industry sectors are certainly going to lose profitability and lose jobs
unless we see some further amendments so what we have called for is a bipartisan approach.

We would love to see the Government and Opposition working together to get a scheme that keeps
Australian businesses in the game, keeps them competitive, maintains jobs but still takes that big
step forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Malcolm Turnbull says if you want to extract more from the emissions trading
scheme, as you clearly do, then offer him more support publicly rather than snuggling up to Labor.
Is that a fair enough criticism?

KATE LAHEY: Well he certainly used that term, snuggling up to Labor, in his fairly frank discussion
with the BCA members. But having said that, we don't know what the Opposition's position is.

So we haven't seen their policy statement. We haven't seen the sorts of amendments that they are
prepared to make. And that's why, from our point of view we would love to see the Government and
the Opposition working hand in glove on this because it's too important to play politics with.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Business Council of Australia was close to the Coalition when it was in
government. Now that Labor is in power, are you working on making up for lost ground?

KATE LAHEY: Well our position is that we are interested in policy not politics. We're trying to
work with both sides. We've both discussions in detail with both the Opposition and Labor because
we think this is the sort of issue that big business should have a say on, should have a position
on and should be helping both sides to understand the implications for business.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Malcolm Turnbull seems to think that he is being neglected by big business. He
wants big business to tell the Government that the Opposition is being thoroughly rational about
emissions trading. Will you?

KATE LAHEY: We can't say that because we don't know what the Opposition's position is. If we could
see that and we could work with the Opposition, we would be delighted to do that.

But we feel we're between a rock and a hard place. From the Government's side, we haven't seen the
detail of the regulations and from the Opposition's side, we have not had a clear enunciation of
their position and the amendments they want to see going forward.

So we are trying to work with both sides to come up with a scheme that will be good for business,
good for the environment and keep Australia tracking towards growth.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Business is demanding certainty so should the carbon trading scheme be passed next

KATE LAHEY: Well we think the first thing is to get the scheme right. Pass it next week, next week,
the week after, the month after. The main thing is to get the scheme right. The timing is the
secondary issue.

And the devil is in the detail. I can tell you having worked at the Business Council now for a
number of years, this is the most complex piece of public policy work that we have ever been faced
with. And we have been in this debate with the Government and the Opposition for six, nine months,
12 months. The detail is mind blowing but it has to be right.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Malcolm Turnbull says that a vote should be delayed until next year. In your view
would it be in everyone's interest to get it passed next year or this year?

KATE LAHEY: Well I go back to the point again. We want to get the scheme right first. That is the
most important point and let's then pass the scheme.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: It doesn't necessarily have to be this year then that the design of the scheme is

KATE LAHEY: Well we'd prefer to bring it on sooner rather than later because business always wants
certainty, but there is no point in bringing on early a flawed scheme.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Could it be a case of Malcolm Turnbull needing big business to apply some pressure
on the hardliners in his own party who are against the emissions trading scheme and voting on it
this year?

KATE LAHEY: Well Alex, I do think there is a lot of politics in this and we are looking at it from
a business perspective rather than a political perspective. I think there are issues that obviously
the Opposition has got to work through in its own party room and in the same way, I assume that the
Government has had to work through.

PETER CAVE: The Business Council of Australia's Katie Lahey, speaking there to Alexandra Kirk in