Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wong defends policy amid climate change protests

ABC News Online, Posted 13 June 2009

Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has defended the Government's policies on climate change, despite criticisms of them at protests around the nation today.

At a protest rally in central Sydney, streets were blocked off as more than 1,000 people marched through the city streets to the office of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Speakers condemned the Government's emissions trading scheme as inadequate and accused the Government of selling out to heavily polluting industries.

But Ms Wong says the criticisms are unfounded.

"Like the people who are at these rallies, this Government does want to take action on climate change," she said.

"We are not like those on the Opposition benches who continue to want to defer and delay.

"But we believe this is a critical challenge to to the nation.

"But the best way to take action on climate change is for senators to pass these laws that will for the first time reduce Australia's carbon pollution."

Ms Wong says people's expectations are unrealistic.

"What many of these people are calling for simply can't be done. It can't be done while supporting jobs," she said.

Protesters in Sydney dressed in red, which they say represents the emergency facing the environment because of climate change.

New South Wales' Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme is a "scam."

She says the Greens will vote against it in the Senate because it will do nothing to reduce emissions and protects big polluting industries.

The bill is due to be debated in the Senate next week.

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