Saturday, August 8, 2009

Greens ready to vote with Opposition on emissions laws

ABC News Online, 9 August 2009

The Greens are prepared to vote with the Federal Opposition to force the Government to split its renewable energy target legislation from its emissions trading scheme.

The Government joined the two pieces of legislation, saying they were closely linked in policy and industry support.

But the Coalition says the Government linked the bills in an effort to force the Senate to support both schemes, because the Coalition and the Greens both oppose the emissions trading legislation.

Deputy Greens leader Christine Milne has told Channel 10 her party will work with the Opposition to ensure legislation for the renewable energy target can be passed.

"We'll do whatever it takes to get the renewable energy target through the Senate," she said.

"The Government was absolutely cynical in linking the two and has cost thousands of jobs in renewable energy because of their failure to do so.

"So, we'll deal with the whole Senate to make sure, by the end of this sitting, we have a renewable energy target."

But the Federal Government is resisting the pressure.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has told ABC TV's Insiders program that legislation for the renewable energy target will not be effective on its own.

"Even with the increase in renewable energy, Australia's emissions will continue to rise, our carbon pollution will continue to rise," she said.

"So you need the CPRS, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, if you actually want to turn emissions around, if you want to turn Australia's carbon pollution around.

"We need both pieces of legislation."

Double dissolution threat

The Greens say the Federal Government should not expect to gain public support if it calls an early election on climate change.

If the Government's emissions trading scheme is rejected twice, it would give the Government a trigger for a double dissolution election to push its legislation through Parliament.

Senator Milne says her party would not mind an early election because she believes the public will back the Greens' push for a tougher emissions trading scheme.

"If the Government chose to go to an election on climate change, I think the Australian community would surprise the Government by electing more Greens to have a stronger position on climate change," he said.

"Every day the news gets worse ... What we've got is a world going into ecological collapse and the community knows it."

Senator Wong says the Greens are playing politics with a critical issue.

"Today we see Senator Milne on television basically talking up the Greens prospects of a success if there were to be a double dissolution," she said.

"So if we want to talk about people playing politics, [are] we seriously suggesting it's a good thing for the planet, to vote to ensure that Australia's emissions continue to rise, but then talk up your electoral prospects?"

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