Michelle Grattan and Brendan Nicholson
THE Government and Opposition remain in a stand-off over an emissions trading scheme, despite Malcolm Turnbull's offer to support it if extensive concessions are made.
Labor says Mr Turnbull must produce amendments as a condition of talks; he says there is no time for that if the Government insists on the planned August 13 vote on the proposed legislation.
In a slap to Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey and other sceptics, Mr Turnbull yesterday dismissed Liberals who oppose emissions trading as having been "asleep" during the last term, when the Howard government proposed a trading scheme.
Mr Turnbull said the Opposition would vote against an unchanged scheme on August 13, but "we may well present amendments later", calling on the Government to be willing to negotiate.
But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said there had been plenty of time since the legislation was released in March for Mr Turnbull to suggest amendments, which the Government had always said it would consider.
Mr Turnbull outlined his demands after a shadow cabinet phone hook-up. Previously, the Opposition said it would oppose the proposed legislation if the Government refused to defer it until after December's Copenhagen conference.
Mr Turnbull also said he would reply in the Fairfax press to the Prime Minister's 6000-word economics essay, published in The Age on Saturday — but he would be briefer.
- Pacific Island leaders are preparing to bombard Mr Rudd with pleas for more help to adapt to climate change when they meet at next week's Pacific Island Forum summit.
Warning that Pacific Islanders are feeling the impact of rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms, they say their nations urgently need the help Labor promised in opposition. An Oxfam Australia report being released today says people in the Asia-Pacific region are already being forced to leave their homes because of climate change, with about 75 million likely to relocate by 2050.
Oxfam executive director Andrew Hewett said it was in Australia's interests to help the Pacific Islands now, because as the problem worsened it would be called on to respond to more regional emergencies. He said that as the wealthiest and highest per capita polluter in the region, Australia should show leadership by adopting emission reduction targets of at least 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020.
A report from the Australia Institute also found that Labor made strong commitments in opposition to help Pacific Islanders that it was yet to fulfil.
With GABRIELLA COSLOVICH