Friday, February 09, 2007

Turnbull vs. Garrett in the great climate change clash

The 7:30 Report is the setting: Kerry O'Brien the referee. I'm expect a good clean bout by two high profile political newcomers. With science, economics, and politics for weapons there promises to be interesting jousting on hand, for a public newly engaged with global warming issues: :::[7:30 Report transcript]

Kerry O'Brien lays down the rules and terms.

KERRY O’BRIEN: This is the third decade we've been hearing about scientific fears of a climate change phenomenon described as a greenhouse effect, caused largely by greenhouse gas emissions, with carbon dioxide as the main culprit. But for governments, for big business, in some cases for whole populations, the stakes have been high. For a long time, an army of sceptics disputed the warnings. Today, the doubters’ ranks have thinned dramatically and the first tentative warnings are now a clarion call. Last Friday's exhaustive report from the UN's International Panel on Climate Change, involving hundreds of the world's top scientists, predicted potentially alarming changes ahead in temperatures, storm patterns, sea levels. The fact that politicians spent most of this week in Canberra debating global warming is testimony enough that Australians are now well and truly engaged and will probably remain so until election day. Malcolm Turnbull, the recently appointed Minister for Environment and Water Resources, and Peter Garrett, Labor's equally recently promoted shadow spokesman for the environment and climate change, have locked horns throughout the week and they're about to do so again tonight.

And in fact, Malcolm Turnbull, you've just come from the water summit with the Prime Minister and four of the states - Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia my understanding, listening to the Prime Minister a short time ago, there's been progress, but not actually much to talk about. Is that right?

Ding! Out he comes, moving easily.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Oh no, I think there is a great deal to talk about. The Prime Minister's water plan, this $10 billion, 10-point plan is determined or destined to, in a very historic way, to change forever the way water is managed outside of the big cities in Australia. It will make our irrigation industries the most efficient in the world. It will mean that we use water efficiently, make every drop count in rural Australia. And it will also mean that for the first time a great anomaly in our Constitution will be dealt with, which is that the Murray-Darling Basin will cease to be managed by four States, all of whom, of course, compete with each other and, instead, be managed, as many people have said even before we became a nation, it will be managed by the Commonwealth in the national interest. Now, it was a very good meeting with the premiers. The Prime Minister, as you know, has asked them to refer their powers over the Murray-Darling Basin, water management in the basin. It was a good meeting. We've agreed to meet in two weeks from tomorrow, 23rd February, and in the meantime the officials will be working and indeed I'll be working with them on a lot of the details, so that when we get to the 23rd we'll be able to have a substantive agreement.

KERRY O’BRIEN: And, very quickly, you're confident of a positive outcome?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I am confident. It was a very good meeting. I think everybody there was very confident and the Premiers went out of their way to say that they believed a deal could be done and that they were supportive. But they obviously have issues they want to deal with and, look, we look forward to working with them, because once we're committed to this national project of managing this enormous area of Australia, which has 80 per cent of our irrigated agriculture and produces nearly half of all of our agricultural production, once we have that national commitment to run this in the nation's interest, then I believe the officials and the experts and the politicians can work together collaboratively. Anyway, Kerry, we'll see, we'll see.

Garrett prods out a long arm, getting a feeling for his reach, and then, bang, a nice sharp reminder us all what the real contest is about.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Peter Garrett, your leader, Kevin Rudd, has been cautiously supportive of Mr Howard's water plan. Are you confident that this can be a bipartisan outcome?

PETER GARRETT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, Kerry, I guess it depends on the sort of details that Mr Turnbull's talking about and I don't have the benefit of having had any discussion or know what the discussions with the premiers have resulted in. My understanding is that they're going to set up a working group. I think there's no doubt that the public wants to see politicians cooperate on water. And that's absolutely understandable, and that's as it should be. But we've been asking some serious questions about the way this is going to operate, and also I know Kevin Rudd had a request in for some detailed briefing from the Prime Minister beforehand, in a sense, to lend some weight to that bipartisan support. And I guess the only other comment I'd make is, in the light of climate change, we've been saying that if you want to have a real solution for dealing with the problems that we have in our inland river systems, particularly going forward, then we need to have some decent climate change policy as well.

Kerry saw it too. Straight into it. This audience is loving it.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Okay, well, that's the cue to move on to precisely that. Malcolm Turnbull, when did you become a convert to the broad body of science warnings about greenhouse emissions and, before we start looking at solutions, how do you define the problem? In your view, how big a crisis do we all face?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I think it's a very large challenge. I don't like using words like 'crisis' because I don't think it's helpful and, with respect to Peter there, I think Peter's strategy this week has been to try to create a sense of panic, almost of hysteria, over this issue. We do have a very serious challenge over the years ahead. We know that our climate is going to get warmer and it will continue to get warmer for many decades regardless of what is done by way of mitigating the emission of greenhouse gases. So, it's going to get warmer. In southern Australia, it will get drier - it's very likely to get drier, and there are other consequences. Now, the biggest manifestation of climate change in Australia is likely to be water scarcity. So everything we have been doing for a long time now in terms of managing our rivers and managing our water resources - and this goes back long before this agreement.

Turnbull goes straight into the clinch - straight to water - looking for Garretts kidneys. Kerry separates them, signals to touch gloves and recommence. Turnbull defines the problem smartly, then goes the watery clinch again. The Federal Government's strategy is to focus on water-management, not the context of the global hydrological cycle. To keep our mind on the drought, not global warming. The tree, not the forest.

KERRY O’BRIEN: We'll come to the solutions later in the debate. At the moment I want to define the problem.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The problem is a hotter, a warmer planet and that has changes to climate and rainfall availability, water availability, because, you see, Kerry, it's not just a question of having less rainfall in an area. If you can have a 10 per cent decline in rainfall but if the climate is hotter or if it's a particularly warm part of the country anyway you might get a 30 per cent decline in stream flow. So small changes in rainfall or precipitation can result in very large changes in stream flow. So you have the case of Perth, where you have a city, a growing city, which in the last 10 or 15 years has seen its surface water stream flow decline by nearly two thirds, even though rainfall only declined by about 20 per cent.
Kerry set up Garrett's credibility, who steps forward and lands a good scoring blow. The crowd is thrilled.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Okay. We're of course dealing with a global problem. Peter Garrett, when did you become a convert to the main body of science warning about greenhouse? How do you define the extent of the problems? How big a crisis do you believe we face?

PETER GARRETT: Well, Kerry I've had a strong interest and campaigned on it for a number of years and, certainly, in my time as ACF President, we were aware that climate change and the sort of reports we were getting from the scientists about the prospects of a warming world were becoming increasingly validated. Look, we're not trying to panic people. We're just trying to recognise what the actual situation is when you have a report by the world's best scientists collecting the data, now, over a number of years about the kind of impact that we're having as we put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the prospects for a warming world and the sorts of impacts and effects that that most likely will have going forward. It is a crisis. There's unanimity amongst the scientific community, for the most part all of those people who worked on putting these reports together, that global warming, climate change, is real and that we can't be complacent about it in any way. What we really need to do is recognise that if we're going to slow down and abate this prospect of the world warming up over time - and we certainly can't stop the warming that's begun but what we've got to do act resolutely to make sure it doesn't continue to spiral. And the only way to do that is to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and, you know what? The Prime Minister's been a sceptic on climate change since day one. We have not been a part of the international community response on Kyoto. Our greenhouse gas emissions are due to rocket out of control. And the Government doesn't have credibility on this issue, and I think people know it.

Kerry want policies, not pandering to Labor's market research. So does the crowd .

KERRY O’BRIEN: But what definable benefits do you believe that Kyoto has delivered? What cuts in greenhouse do you believe Australia should be targeting? And over what timeframe?

Garrett shows off a nice combination punch, ducking details, disappointing, but still, an inspiring finish. He's a good media player.

PETER GARRETT: Well, it'll deliver about a 5 per cent greenhouse gas emissions across the board in terms of the countries involved. But it's also a very big carbon market that's developing out there, Kerry, and you've got the existence of clean development mechanisms in countries where Australian businesses who could export, for example, their solar energy or their wind power to other countries in the world, who are part of Kyoto, don't get to take the benefit and can't get in on the action. So Australian businesses have actually been sacrificed on the altar of the Howard Government's very, very strong rejections of Kyoto. The second thing is that, in order for us to build a sustainable economy into the future, including looking after the environment and addressing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to have a significant investment in renewables, in energy efficiency the kinds of things which we can employ people in, whether young scientists coming out of our universities - it's an education and knowledge challenge for us as well, and we need to get stuck into it right away

Turnbull comes out jabbing,ducking Kyoto and with fancy footwork ties rates of emissions growth to economic growth. This duplicious weapon that the government's been sharpening for a while promises to be double-edged.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Malcolm Turnbull, the Government has consistently refused to sign Kyoto. Do you believe that the Kyoto treaty has delivered any benefits at all?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I think Peter almost put his finger on it there when he said it's resulted in a 5 per cent reduction in emissions. Now, let's just put that in context. Most of the countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol in Europe that have reduced their emissions - and remember, the benchmark was 1990 - were countries whose emissions were reduced not because of any environmental awareness, but because, in the case of the Eastern Bloc, the Soviet Union and their satellites, their old sort of rust belt industries, defence industries, collapsed. That's why they've got so many credits, is because they're not building tanks any more. If you look at Britain, the reason Britain's emissions dropped was because Margaret Thatcher basically shut down Britain’s coal industry and moved to gas, North Sea gas, which is running out. So Britain is now importing coal, so you actually are importing coal to England in Newcastle in England, it's amazing. But the point I'm making, Kerry - let me just go on - the reduction in emissions that's occurred because of sorry, growth in emissions. The reduction in global growth in emissions that's occurred because of Kyoto is only 1 per cent. So it has not made a material impact. Why is that? Because the largest emitters are not party to it. The United States and, most importantly, the fastest growing emitters - China and India and other countries. China will overtake the United States within a couple of years as the world's largest emitter. You see, the best way to reduce emissions is to have no economic growth. If your economy collapses, then your emissions will reduce. And I'm afraid to say that Peter is on the record as favouring low economic growth.

PETER GARRETT: Oh, Malcolm, come on.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Let me just quote this.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Better be quick, Malcolm, in the interest of fairness.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: You said in 1987, Peter, in a book you wrote about politics, "The higher the standard of living, the greater burden on future generations to repair the damage by those living it up in the present." You said only a few years ago in 2004, let me finish, "Economic growth is always accompanied by a commensurate increase in environmental degradation." You see, your answer is to cut economic growth, okay? Good.
Garrett put us his shield and takes the blow. And then he rains down his attack.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Okay. I'm going to go to Peter Garrett now.

PETER GARRETT: Oh look, Kerry, there's only two developed countries that are outside of Kyoto, and that's Australia and America, and I think everybody watching this program who's taken an interest in this issue will know that Australia actually got a very good deal on its targets, the kind of targets we may just meet, but the Government continues to bag Kyoto even though it talks about reaching the targets. But, more importantly, what we're interested in is sustainable economic growth and the point about the challenge and the risk of climate change is that unless we actually now energetically and vigorously pursue the kinds of policies that are needed to reduce emissions and build industries as we go forward which, by the way, Labor and I are entirely committed to, then we will continue, ten years from this point in time, in facing an even more difficult problem. And that's simply this. We took a benefit in the Kyoto Protocol ratification process when we didn't sign on. But we took the benefit in those targets, because of the land clearing that we agreed to stop. Now, that land clearing benefit has gone. Australia's emissions are due to go up consistently over the next 10 or 20 years. 22 per cent by 2020, they'll go up. Now, that is an indictment of the Howard Government. But even more than that is the fact that we actually have industries who want a signal in the marketplace. We have industries who want to build sustainability - the solar, the wind, the geothermal. Our gas industry is ready to go forward. All of them still on the leash because of the Howard Government's position on Kyoto, and the fact that it’s sat on it hands for ten years and done nothing about climate change. I mean, the word "climate change" - there isn't even a climate change in the major environmental legislation in the Federal Parliament. They're allergic to climate change. They won't even have an environment trigger in their legislation to deal with it

Malcolm decides to go for a wrestle and spin.
KERRY O’BRIEN: If we can now move on, naturally and logically, to the actions. Malcolm Turnbull, what is the core Howard Government response to tackle the root causes of greenhouse emissions? Not the symptoms, but the root causes?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Sure. OK, the Howard Government has spent $2 billion over the last ten years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet its Kyoto target. We will meet our Kyoto target. Many countries Canada being a classic case - who ratified the protocol will miss that target, and by a long way. Now we will meet it and we will meet it because of investments made by the Howard Government in renewable energies, in the mandatory renewable energy target - MRET - and a whole range of measures, and that is a result of Government policy. Now, 10 years, more than 10 years ago, the Howard Government set up the Australian Greenhouse Office, which has been publishing data about greenhouse. It's been promoting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to say, as Peter did, that we are not part of the international work on combatting greenhouse is ridiculous. Howard Bamsey, who is head of the Australian Greenhouse Office, is the co chair of the new international talks on the post Kyoto approaches. So we're not only at the table, we're at the head of the table. Now, this proposition --

KERRY O’BRIEN: You've got 20 seconds to finish, Malcolm Turnbull. You're yielding - Peter Garrett?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Let Peter Garrett go on.

Garretts not yielding, he's going on the front foot.
PETER GARRETT: The team that was set to look at national emissions trading was disbanded. The AGO has been folded back into the department. The rhetoric and the actions of Mr Howard and his Government for ten years on climate change have been hostile. There's no question whatsoever that Australia's record in this area is a dismal one. Not only that, but we've missed the opportunity that countries that Malcolm talks about, like Germany and Japan, actually undertook when they started to develop alternative energy industries like solar, where they now are amongst the world's leaders and our solar engineers and solar businesses are going offshore. But even more than that, they have set about trying to reduce their emissions. We're not reducing ours and, Kerry, what the science tells us from this climate change report is that our entire economy, as well as our ecology, is at risk. I mean, it's tourism, it's agriculture, it's the likely impact that the sort of higher temperatures and less rainfall will make on drought. Those are the sort of effects that will be seen as we go forward, and when Nicholas Stern, who was commissioned by the UK to address this issue, said, "This is an issue of a scale of, terms of economic cost, two world wars and a Depression", he pretty much had it right.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Labor's core responses in Government to tackle the root causes of greenhouse emissions, what are Labor's core responses, briefly?

PETER GARRETT: Well, look, the first thing is, you need targets. If you don't know where you're going, then how are you going to get there? You need targets, and we are committed to a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our mandatory renewable energy target is at a miserable 2 per cent. We would expand it. We believe and support the idea of ratifying Kyoto and getting in with the other countries that are doing that good work as well. We would establish a national emissions trading system. The Government has been sitting on three or four reports about a national emissions trading system. Now we've got yet another report issued, and it's a discussion paper. People are anxious about this issue, Kerry, and I think we really feel that. I certainly do, I know Kevin does. They want to know that we're prepared to respond with solutions. We've got a very, very clear set of identified policies which we've put in place and at least, at the very least, we know we'd be setting ourselves on the path of building economy and sustaining environment as we go forward by reducing emissions.

Kerry starts asking hard questions.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Okay. We’ll talk about emissions trading in a moment, but Malcolm Turnbull, can we start by looking at the issue of cleaning up the coal that Australia burns for electricity, which for you is one of the front line issues to address?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It absolutely is.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Is it a front-rank response by Government doesn't it concern you in that context that the IPCC has warned that it's too late to undo the damage and the effects of the damage we're going to see over the next 20 to 30 years, but that we should be taking action right now to try to limit the damage beyond that? But finding the right technology for clean coal is likely to take 10, 15 years and we don't know what the outcomes are going to be. Is that enough?

Back to clinching.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Kerry, we have to make sure that as we deal with greenhouse and as we reduce our emissions, and we are committed to reducing our emissions and will continue to do so - there's a Kyoto target, which we're going to meet - we have to remember that there is an economic cost. However you do it, whether you do it through taxes, whether you do it through subsidies which are funded by taxes, whether you do it through carbon trading, when you put a price on carbon, you impose a cost on the economy, and the higher that cost, the more impact that has. Now, Peter argues, Peter says all the Kyoto work has reduced the growth of emissions by 5 per cent by the countries involved. I gave some reasons as to why that growth is masked by collapses in economic activity in Europe. But just think of this. Peter is proposing that by 2050 and the Labor Party's policy is, in fact, 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – and that is a very, very big reduction; now, if we do that by ourselves it will make no difference to global warming, unless the rest of the world plays a part. Because this is a global problem. We can deal with water ourselves, within our own country. But global warming has to have a global solution. It's obvious, isn't it? A tonne of carbon put into the atmosphere in Sydney has as much impact on the atmosphere as one put into the atmosphere in Shanghai. So everybody's got to be in it together.

Kerry steps in to break them apart. Turnbull goes back in.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Hang on a second.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: No, hang on. If you impose a massive cost on the Australian economy you will do enormous damage to jobs. And that's why all this week interviewers have been saying to Peter, "What is it going to cost?" Three times on another channel he was asked and he would not say and, finally, the interviewer in frustration said, "Does this mean that consumers will have to pay more?" Peter said, "I don't know what ‘pay more’ means." Really, is that the sort of recklessness we can expect?

Garrett is lining up his target. Setting up the issues in focus for the crowd.
PETER GARRETT: Kerry, I'm not going to start responding to Malcolm's selective sort of viewing of hypotheticals that were put to me in an interview. What I would say is this. Arnie Schwarzenegger has showed us the way. He set clear targets - an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050. He's put California on the road to a greenhouse gas reducing, but industry building, future. Why can't we do the same? Is the argument here that simply because other countries are producing greenhouse gas emissions, Australia, which actually does produce a fair bit of greenhouse gas, shouldn't? And why is Malcolm framing this debate always in terms of costs and scares? I mean, the CFMEU, the coal mining union, are totally in favour of ratifying Kyoto, are totally in favour of supporting renewable energy, are totally in favour of the Labor position and that's not only because of the association with Labor. They recognise that's the only way forward. And finally, and I think most importantly, let's look as a country at the opportunities. I mean, here we are with a wonderful inheritance of gas, a wonderful inheritance of solar, the capacity to build energy which can be delivered more cheaply than things like nuclear. Not as cheap as coal, certainly, but certainly more cheaper than nuclear, which is Mr Turnbull and Mr Howard's final solution to this issue and, at the same time, build industries which would employ young Australians, export that good technology to other parts of the world. I mean, that’s really, it’s, do we have a portfolio of energies which are greenhouse gas friendly? Or do we have a couple of energy sources, including nuclear, which are very expensive into the long term, have other additional problems that we need to manage?

Kerry points out the obvious flaw in the Government's strategy.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Malcolm Turnbull, like the Prime Minister, you have nominated nuclear power as part of the solution to the greenhouse problems but, again, like clean coal, the technology you're looking for for clean coal, if you embraced it tomorrow, if you embraced nuclear power tomorrow for Australia, and you're certainly not quite ready for that step yet, nuclear stations for Australia in sufficient numbers to make a difference are a long way into the future and, even if they're greenhouse friendly, it'll be years again before the positives of that kick in. Isn't that so?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, that's right, Kerry. But the ways in which you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and this is the International Energy Agency's opinion, not mine, is firstly by fuel efficiency, or energy efficiency, and that could be anything from better light bulbs to hybrid cars to all of the measures that are being promoted and used, deployed around our society. The second one is clean coal. Now, clean coal is actually not all years away. You're talking about carbon sequestration that has a way to go. But you can have power stations that are much more thermally efficient, and the more efficient they are, the less coal they need to burn, the less carbon they need to emit to generate a unit of power. That is, it may not be clean coal, but it is much cleaner coal. Now, that technology may well be the most important thing Australia does in terms of greenhouse, because we are working through the AP6, with the big emitters America, China, Japan and so forth and directly with China, to develop clean coal technologies. Why is that so important? Because China consumes 2,200 million tonnes of coal. We consume 125 million tonnes of coal. They are heavily coal dependent. That's not going to change. They are increasing their generation capacity every five or six months by an amount that's equal to ours. So unless they clean up their act and unless we can help them get the technology to do it, anything we do in Australia, any of the sacrifices to living standards, to jobs, that Peter is prepared to make, will not only hurt us, but be completely in vain.

Kerry sets off Labor's supposed weakness on nuclear.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Labor stands accused of having a closed mind on the benefits of nuclear power, regardless of how strong the scientific arguments may be to use it. Times change, technology changes. Even some environmentalists, a few environmentalists, are arguing that nuclear power is now safer than it once was, poses less risk than climate change does without nuclear as part of the armoury. Yet your party is about, at the same time that you oppose nuclear power, you're about to embrace, it would seem, increased mining and exports of uranium. You won't have nuclear power here but you'll sell uranium around the world to feed other people's nuclear power?

PETER GARRETT: That debate has got a little way to run. I just want to respond to something Malcolm said, though, and that's this. There's no doubt at all that one of the fastest growing areas of employment and economy in the world now is dealing with the carbon economy and constraining the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we produce, and it is that particular part of, if you like, the Howard Government's approach that I find so bewildering because it's very clear that there's a huge market out there for energy efficiency, for renewables, for solar, for wind, for geothermal, for solar thermal where our CSIRO scientists reckon we could actually start to get baseload happening here over the next 8, 10, 15 years if we were prepared to invest in it and if the Government actually took it seriously. Now, it hasn't. The point here is a simple one. What that IPCC panel climate change report really said was, an enormous amount of damage has already been done because of the amount of CO2s that have gone into the atmosphere. We're about, what, 360, 370 parts per million. If we get over 500, 550, then we get into that 2, 3, 4 degree range. They are saying to us as scientists, you, as policy makers and politicians, need to act now in order to make sure it doesn't go too far. I think that's what people are really feeling and understanding. A lot of the people that went to the Al Gore film. Prime Minister Howard wouldn't see Al Gore, Al Gore was sort of lambasted by members of government. But a lot of people went to see that film and it was strongly factually based and he laid out the case very clearly. I think for Australians it's this idea they're not prepared to set targets. They keep on bagging Kyoto even though they use it as a reference point. They talk about nuclear down the track, but they never want to talk about what we can do now and what we need to do now to actually address this problem.

Turnbull's turn.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Malcolm Turnbull, are you embarrassed that a country like China that you quote as one of the great emitters, the great polluters, that China has a bigger target for using renewable energy resources than Australia does?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I'm not embarrassed by it at all. China uses a lot of wind power, more than we do, and the reason for that is they don't have a national electricity grid. So they can't zap power from one end of the country to the other like we can. If you are a Chinese community and you're generating, might be a village or a small town, and you're generating power from a diesel generator, which will be the typical source in most parts of China, you're not connected to the grid, putting a windmill there is very helpful because it enables you to deliver localised power. Wind, particularly in China, is very useful in localised communities and the same in India, separated from the grid. The economics differ from place to place. You shouldn't be prescriptive about particular types of energy source. That's why it's critical to have, ultimately, a price on carbon. Now, ideally, that should be a global emissions trading system. You'll get enormous distortions always if you've got some countries that are obligated by a trading system, and others that aren't. So a global system, everyone agrees, is the goal. What is the Howard Government doing? It is working now on a global emissions trading policy. That's what - the discussion paper that Peter referred to today is the precursor or the beginning of the inquiry into that. By May we'll have a report on which we can make policy decisions about emissions trading in the future.

He wriggles out of that. Not long before the bell, now. Garrett steps in landing some nice blows, tying Labor's fortunes to a US Democrat ascendency. He makes the idea of global warming consequences real by using examples involving our natural treasures.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Okay. Peter Garrett?

PETER GARRETT: Kerry, I suspect that when the Bush Administration's period passes through, that the Americans may, in fact, have a different position in terms of engaging with the world community on issues like climate change and Kyoto. There's certainly strong indication among the Democrats, particularly, in the United States, and a number of American states that want to get into the European trading system, that that's what will happen. And it's extraordinary that we in Australia have missed ten years, knowing that this problem was real and that we haven't acted upon it. And it's extraordinary that we've seen our businesses, whether they're solar business or wind businesses, go offshore. It's extraordinary that we actually don't have an absolutely up in your face profound energy policy which is driven at the national level which says, we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by this amount within this amount of time. We will invest in these following industries, because we know by using the best of Australian brains and brain power we can actually bring our emissions down. We can actually start to look after nature and the planet, which doesn't really have a set of accounts other than, as Tim Flannery said, the amount of CO2 that's in the atmosphere, and do it in a way that actually guarantees jobs into the future but also looks after the environment. The environment, like the Great Barrier Reef, terribly at risk from climate change; Kakadu National Park, again, terribly at risk. But if we act now we can actually do something.

The bell goes. I score it Garrett's way. Kerry sets up the next contest.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Gentlemen, we're actually out of time. I know one thing we haven't touched on in any sort of detail at all is the whole issue of emissions trading. But it seems to me that that's something that's still got some way to go before we get a clear picture of where Australia is headed on that score. I hope that and other things will be the subject of our next debate, which I look forward to. I hope both of you do. Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull, thanks, both of you, for joining us tonight.

That's the program for tonight. A reminder that Stateline returns tomorrow night. Join us again on Monday, and John Clarke and Bryan Dawe will be back in their usual Thursday slot next week. For now, good night.

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