Australia said it when we recently voted, and we are saying it now in response to the opposition abandoning bipartisanship on climate change, and the government politically neutralising the issue by adopting Howard's old Shergold Report recommendations.
Reproduced in full. Phillp Coorey reports:
Don't fiddle a world burns
AN OVERWHELMING majority of voters support Kevin Rudd's drive to tackle climate change and 77 per cent believe Australia should press ahead and cut its greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do.
The latest Herald/Nielsen poll, the first since last week's green paper on a proposed emissions trading scheme, finds that Australians are willing to pay the price for cutting carbon emissions, even though most do not understanding how the scheme
When informed that greenhouse gas abatement would cause the price of goods and services to increase, 68 per cent said they were prepared to pay more while 24 per cent were opposed.
The poll coincides with another bleak assessment of the Murray-Darling River system, handed to federal and state ministers, saying there may not be enough water to guarantee supply to regional towns by 2010. It recommends that available water be used only for human consumption in towns of the lower Murray-Darling.
As the Government started a multimillion-dollar "awareness" campaign on its climate action last night, the poll found six of every 10 voters either slightly understood or had no understanding at all of the emissions trading scheme. However, two-thirds still supported introducing a scheme.
The poll of 1400 voters was taken from Thursday to Saturday. On Wednesday, the Government released its green paper outlining how a domestic emissions trading scheme would work.
In the preceding week, the Coalition was split over climate change. Its leader, Brendan Nelson, contradicted senior colleagues by saying Australia should do nothing until other big polluting countries acted. Only 19 per cent of respondents to the poll agreed with this course of action.
The poll finds the Government about as popular now as it was at the election. On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor leads by 54 to46 per cent and, on primary votes, by 43 to 40 per cent. Both show small shifts to the Opposition since last month's poll but the movements are within the margin of error and not enough to give the Opposition great heart.
Mr Rudd's approval rating remains relatively unchanged at 66 per cent compared with 36 per cent for Dr Nelson. Mr Rudd leads Dr Nelson as preferred prime minister by 65 to 20 per cent, a 3-percentage point drop.
With climate change policy full of political risk, 54 per cent are satisfied with the way Mr Rudd is handling the matter while 38 per cent are unhappy. The Government will welcome the findings as it is battling an increasingly hostile Opposition and corporate
"These findings suggest clear support for the Government's climate change policy," the Nielsen research director, John Stirton, said. However, last month's poll showed 78 per cent wanted the Government to intervene over petrol prices and Mr Stirton said this gave "food for thought about the real depth of support for a
tough policy on climate change".
Last night the Government launched its taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to promote awareness of the proposed trading scheme. Labor had been critical of the Howard government's political advertising but the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, said this campaign would adhere to new guidelines that require the
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said: "We want to have a very mature conversation with the Australian people about this because big economic reforms like this are not cost-free."
The shadow treasurer, Malcolm Turnbull, said Labor was rushing when "great care and deliberation" were needed to protect industry and households. He suggested the Coalition would oppose gradually reducing total emissions allowed under the scheme until other countries cut theirs.