Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wong adamant on June carbon vote

By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers

ABC News Online,  Thu Jun 4, 2009 

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says the Government will not back away from putting its carbon trading scheme to the Senate this month.

The Government had the numbers to pass legislation for the scheme through the House of Representatives this morning, but it is almost certain to be defeated in the Senate.

The Opposition wants a vote on the legislation delayed until next year, while the crossbenchers all have serious concerns about the scheme.

Senator Wong has increased pressure on Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull over the Coalition's stance, again accusing him of acting to protect his leadership.

"Today Mr Turnbull again voted against the national interest. He voted to ensure Australia's carbon pollution continues to rise," she said.

"The only calls for delay in this Parliament are from Mr Turnbull who wants to delay because he is unable to stand up to the sceptics in his own party room."

The Government is continuing negotations with the Greens over the scheme but Senator Wong says the Government is not considering pushing back a vote on the legislation.

"We will be putting this legislation into the Senate in June. We will be seeking to vote on the legislation in June."

The Government will also have to get Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding on board to get the bills through by the end of June.

Senator Xenophon says the Government has a long way to go to convince him to support the scheme.

Fielding's mission

Senator Fielding has been in the US on a climate change fact-finding mission and has spoken with several sceptics.

He is leaning towards agreeing with the Coalition to delay the vote on the scheme and remains undecided about whether humans are the cause of climate change.

But Senator Wong says she is not concerned.

"He has consistently said publicly that he has an open mind on these issues - which is more than you can say for Mr Turnbull."

Earlier today during debate in the Lower House, Opposition emissions trading spokesperson Andrew Robb accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of seeking a double dissolution trigger by insisting on a June vote.

"They've forged on because their arrogant approach to this bill is driven by politics," he said.

"He's sticking to a scheme so awful that no one else can support it, so he can go to an early election."

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