Gillard, Greens And Independents Agree On Carbon Price And Future ETS

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee has agreed on a carbon mechanism which involves a fixed price on carbon for three to five years followed by a full cap and trade emissions trading scheme.

Gillard and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet spoke at a press conference today with the Greens Senator Bob Brown and Senator Christine Milne. They were accompanied by the independent members Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

The carbon pricing mechanism is to be introduced on July 1, 2012. The details of the scheme will be developed over the next few months.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott immediately attacked the plan as a “betrayal” and predicted a revolt against the “carbon tax”.

Transcript of joint press conference held by Prime Minister Julia Gillard with the Australian Greens, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

GILLARD: Today, accompanied by the members of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee and we’re here together today because we’re releasing a paper which describes a proposed carbon mechanism.

Now this proposed mechanism for pricing carbon is agreed by the Australian Government and by the Australian Greens. Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott, who have joined us and who are members of the Multi Party Climate Change Committee, have agreed that this proposal should be released to be considered by the community and to demonstrate that progress is being made.

The ultimate objective for the Committee is to agree to the draft carbon pricing legislation – including the architecture in the paper that is being distributed today – before that legislation is introduced into Parliament.

We are seeking a way of pricing carbon that’s got broad support, so details, including a starting price, the length of the fixed period, and assistance arrangements for households, communities and industry will be addressed in subsequent discussions, and those discussions will be held at the Multi Party Climate Change committee.

I do want to take a few moments to explain why I am so determined to price carbon

First and foremost I’m determined to do it because climate change is real. We have never before lived with so many people on the planet emitting so much carbon pollution. What that means is that carbon pollution is changing our climate. 2010 was one of the two hottest years in recording history. So our climate is changing and we need to reduce carbon pollution.

Second I’m determined to price carbon because history teaches us that the countries and that the economies who prosper at times of historic change are those who get in and shape and manage the change. If we look at the industrial revolution, the countries that prospered were the countries that got in on the change and didn’t linger. If we look at the information technology revolution, the reason Bill Gates is such a rich man today is he got on in on the change. Bill Gates sit there saying ‘I think I’ll leave it 10 or 15 years and see whether or not this computing thing catches on’, Bill Gates understood the need to be in on the change.

The same is true now, this is the time to be pricing carbon and dealing with the change to a clean energy future.

Around the world economies are changing and we simply cannot afford to be left behind. To be left behind means that we will lose jobs and lose prosperity in the long-term. I do not believe that Australia needs to lead the world on climate change but I also don’t believe that we can afford to be left behind. That’s why the time is right and the time is now.

If we do risk being left behind, it will cost us jobs. Now there are some people that will say we can’t afford to move to a clean energy future, I disagree with that, we can’t afford not to move to a clean energy future and that’s why we’ve got to get on with pricing carbon.

Then in terms of assessing the mechanisms that is before you, it’s been founded on principles that I support and I believe are self evident. Principle number one: if you put a price on something, then people will use less of it. At the moment it is free to emit carbon pollution. If we price carbon pollution people then people will find ways of emitting less of it because they won’t want to pay the price. So it’s axiomatic if you put a price on something, if we put a price on carbon pollution, we will reduce carbon pollution.

And the second principle behind this mechanism is that markets are efficient. Australia is not some old Soviet style command and control economy. We are a market based economy and because we are market based economy, a market mechanism is the right mechanism to price carbon, and economists around the world tell us that that’s the way of getting our economy to adapt to a low pollution future at the least cost.

Now the architecture that you have before you today delivers on these principles.

We will of course be dealing with futher issues in the months to come. We are committed to having a scheme which starts on 1 July 2012. The architecture we’ve released today has a fixed period in which there is a fixed price on carbon – a market mechanism with a fixed price.

The fixed period would be between three to five years and it would be followed by a smooth transition to a full cap and trade emissions trading scheme with a flexible price linked that is linked to international carbon markets.

We propose to settle the fixed period, the three to five year period to settle that, prior to the introduction of the legislation.

One year before the legislated end of the fixed period there would be a review. That review would consider if there was any reason to delay moving to a cap and trade scheme. So the hardwired mechanism here is to move to cap and trade, but there would be a review one year in advance to assess whether there were any real reasons not to take that step.

I do want to indicate to people the mechanism you have in front of you does not propose to put agricultural emissions into the carbon pricing system. The measures and mechanism for counting agricultural emissions are simply too complex, but we do want to work with farmers, with our agricultural community, to make sure that they get the benefits of changing practices and changing carbon and from the Government’s point of view that’s why we announced that carbon farming initiative during the election campaign.

Can I conclude by saying this, I am well aware that immediately following today’s announcement the Leader of the Opposition will be out spruiking a fear campaign calling and talking to Australians about a great big new tax on everything.

I’ll put money on that, that that’s what will happen during the course of today.

Can I make it very clear that in the debate that will ensue I am not intending to take a backwards step.

We are a confident nation and we are good at change.

We have proved it in the past, we’ve proved it with floating our dollar, we’ve proved it with reducing tariffs, we’ve proved it with things like reducing smoking rates, with Sun Smart campaigns. We are a confident and adaptable nation and we are good at change. And because we are good at change we can do this, we can price carbon and we can deal with the change.

I also want to be very clear with Australians about what pricing carbon does. It has price impacts, it’s meant to– that’s the whole point. Consequently things that generate a whole lot of carbon pollution will be more expensive that things that generate less carbon pollution – that’s the whole point – to have those price effects, to send a price signal so people innovate, people adapt, people go to low-pollution clean energy alternatives.

Now as a Labor Government, when we price carbon we will ensure that the carbon price is fair, that it is a fair system.

Every cent raised from pricing carbon will go to assisting households, helping businesses manage the transition and funding climate change climate change programs, and the Government will always support those who are in need of assistance with cost of living pressures.

To finish, carbon pollution is a threat to our country and our future, it’s a threat to our future prosperity, we need to price carbon, we need to ensure that our Australian economy is a low pollution economy for the future; we can’t afford to be left behind.

And because we’re a Labor Government, we’ll make sure that when we price carbon we do it in a fair way. I’ll turn now to Greg Combet, the Minister, for some comments and then to Senator Brown.

COMBET: Thanks Prime Minister, this is an important step in our efforts to put a price tag on pollution in our economy. It’s the second document that has emanated from the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee; the first was just before Christmas, which articulated a set of principles that will underpin the continuing design work in establishing a carbon price mechanism. What’s being released today though is another important step and it outlines the broad framework for a carbon price mechanism, and as the Prime Minister’s said it has been the subject of a lot of discussion and is the subject of agreement with the Greens. Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott are in a position where of course they have been involved in all of that discussion, they have agreed to the release of this proposal to enable community consideration and also importantly to show the progress that’s been made, and I’d like to thank both Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor and Senator Brown and Senator Milne for the work that we’ve done so far. It is a mechanism that, as the Prime Minister has said is a market mechanism. That is very important, because it will find the most cost effective ways of reducing pollution in our economy. It is a proposal that is intended to start, subject to the passage of legislation through Parliament, on 1 July 2012, and sends a very clear signal, I think, to the business community, that they can have certainty about the broad framework, provide feedback to the government, and have input as we go into the further detailed discussions about the detailed design of the mechanism. You will see that there has been no discussion to date of the starting price of the carbon price mechanism, or of the proposed household assistance measures that might obtain, or of the proposed measures for assisting industry in the transition to a clean energy future, at this point in time, that is detailed work that we will have ahead of us in the weeks and months ahead. But nonetheless, the mechanism that has been outlined here, is a very important step forward, it does involve an emissions trading scheme structure, commencing with a fixed price period for a fixed period of time, and is does involve a smooth transition from that fixed price to a fully flexible cap and trade emissions trading scheme in due course. So the important framework elements are contained within the proposal and we look forward to any questions that you may have, but Senator Brown I think wishes to make a few comments first.

SENATOR BROWN: Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you Minister. We feel very happy to be here, in a process which is moving forward to this nation’s future. The Prime Minister’s outlined the architectural agreements that are involved here. The Committee is moving on time and on target. This is a hybrid process for a fixed price move to a cap and trade system which we actually developed from Professor Garnaut’s ideas some twelve months ago. The Government and the Prime Minister has with us, established this Committee we have got a lot of hard work as the minister has just outlined on getting to important detail in the coming months but it’s on time and as Prime Minister Gillard has said we are aiming for the proposal for a carbon price to be in place July, 12 Months. Now this is nation building. Michael Cramer the Greens Euro MP was here in this building yesterday. Germany made its equivalent decisions on this very matter seven years ago he told me not even the Greens could have guessed the success for that nation. The renewable energy component of the economy has held Germany in best stead during the recent economic troubles and 330000 extra jobs have been created in Germany because of legislation moving to a clean, green energy future. As the Prime Minister said, we’re not world leaders here, we’re coming from behind, but the Prime Minister and her government, together with a very positive-minded Greens Party and the cross bench are moving towards giving this nation a great service – economic, security as well as a vital hedge against the increasing impact of global warming on our nation’s future.

So, we have a lot of work to do but we’re very pleased. This huge project is on track.

I’ll ask Christine Milne if she wants to say a word, and then also happy to answer questions.

SENATOR MILNE: Well, today the community, the environment movement, the community organisations and business have been wanting for a long time and that is a date. That is the outcome of here today is that providing we can reach an agreement on the details on 1 July 2012 Australia will have a carbon price, will have one henceforth, won’t be going away and people can plan for the future on that and on that date will be seeing systemic change. We will going away from the ad-hoc grants and the ad-hoc programs. We will be getting systemic and we will be moving towards that date. It is exciting, we have only got a few months in terms of parliamentary activity in the second half of the year to get the legislation through and see this happen on the 1 July 2012. And it’s happening because we have shared power in Australia. Majority governments wouldn’t have delivered this outcome. It is because the Greens are in the balance of power and working with the other parties to deliver, not only aspirations, but the process to achieve it. And I’m really grateful for the good will that is shown around the table to make sure we could get to today.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is it still your view that the CPRS compensation arrangement were broadly satisfactory? Are you likely to now introduce less-generous compensation arrangements to get agreement from the Greens?

And Senator Brown, are you prepared to compromise on compensation arrangements for industry to actually get a deal here? How are you guys going bridging your differences on this?

GILLARD: Can I just say we’ve got work to do. We’ve got work to do on industry assistance arrangements. We’ve got work to do on household compensation arrangements.

What I’ve said is that a lot of good work was done in designing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and it’s not my intention to just put that work to one side, but there are discussions to come and there will be some difficult conversations to come. There’s no doubt about that, but we are working through. That’s what the Multi Party Climate Change Committee is for.

BROWN: Just to extend your question, you can tell the readers of The Australian that we’ll be working hard to see that householders, all 22 million Australians, will have their interests taken into account by this Committee as it moves forward.

It isn’t just a matter of compensating industry, particularly polluters. In fact, what we want to do is compensate those people who are suffering the outcome of a long-term carbon pollution of the atmosphere, and we’ll be working to that end, so yes, we have-

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

GILLARD: We’ll just get a little bit of order in it, so I think I saw Phil Coorey first, then we’ll come across Lenore and Laura and then go to Andrew. Phil?

JOURNALIST: Senator, this hybrid model is similar to what you proposed after the ETS hit the fence before the last election, and when you proposed the hybrid you spoke about a starting fixed price of around $23. Is that still your starting point for a price, or are you prepared to be flexible?

BROWN: Oh, of course. We are now moving towards looking at what that starting price should be. I’m not going to gainsay that.

Yes, we put that figure there because that came through from calculations and worked on at the time by Professor Garnaut, but we’re 12 months down the line. We are now looking at what that price should be and that’ll be a matter for further discussions by the Committee.

GILLARD: Lenore?

JOURNALIST: Am I correct in understanding that the Government and the committee is now saying that the transport sector should be included in a pricing mechanism, unlike the CPRS?

And also, in the list of things that you say you’ll look at in the review, included in there is the state of international carbon markets. Does the Government think that if there’s no more countries moving to a cap and trade than have one now, would it still be appropriate for Australia to move to flexible pricing?

And just one more, if I may, the independents are kind of lingering down the back and the Minister said that they’d agreed to release this allow community consultation, so I’m just interested in to what extent you’re, you know, with the program on this.

GILLARD: OK, I’ll Greg Combet to answer your first two questions, and then obviously Tony and Rob.

COMBET: The first issue, just to alert you to, in relation to the document of course is that, the sectoral coverage of the economy is canvassed within the document, but it does say in the introductory remarks, that it doesn’t preclude us having further consideration of a phased approach to coverage of different sections of the economy, so that is not a settled issue at this point in time, it will be an issue that the Committee will consider. And you’ll see that in relation to a number of the elements in the document, there are parameters for further discussion to take place, and no doubt that as the document is digested by many stakeholders, there’ll be some feedback in relation to those issues.

JOURNALIST: So transport’s in, but will it be phased in?

COMBET: No, I’m not saying anything conclusive about it, because it’s a subject that will have to be further discussed. But you’ll see in the document that it does make clear, that the concept of broad coverage of this carbon price doesn’t preclude us having a further conversation at this stage about a phased approach to coverage of different sectors of the economy. Look, and the answer to the second part of the question I think is that there is a very clear intent here that we move to cap and trade emissions trading, and that is an important thing because, it will allow us of course to approach targeted levels of emissions reductions over time, and it’s also of course an efficient way for us to continue to go about achieving reductions in the context of a targeted level of emissions reductions by 2020 for example, so that linking of that system to the international carbon markets is an important consideration when we have a look at the issue twelve months out from the planned transition to emissions trading and you’ll see in the document some commentary about that. There will be one very important concern that I wish to emphasise as we approach a timing of that nature, and that is the importance of ensuring a smooth transition and certainty for business, and these are the sorts of issues that we’ll be engaging with from this point on with the business roundtable, members of the NGO roundtable, and of course all other stakeholders that we speak to in coming weeks.

WINDSOR: Your question if I can remember it Lenore relates to the proposal. This is very much the start of a process in my view. I know that you were trying to get some information from Greg there a moment ago in terms of the transport issue. There’s a lot discussion to take place, on this issue, what we have established today is a framework to attempt to work within. Now that doesn’t mean that the game is over. In my view, and one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in this Committee, was we wanted Professor Garnaut to look at the international stage as to what was happening, either with or without the emissions trading schemes, what is happening globally, and also for the Productivity Commission to look at some of these competitive aspects and the impacts of various prices and different systems on our nation. And so I see this and please don’t construe through my presences here that I will be actually supporting any scheme. I’m more than happy to be involved in a process within this framework, but there is a whole range of unanswered questions that all of us have to deal with until we reach conclusion. I’m pleased about the way in which agriculture and land use management, landscape management and some of those issues are being addressed both in the committee and in the boarder community and I will be one of the interests that I will be looking at as well.

JOURNALIST: Just to clarify that, because people are saying that by next year we will have a starting point, are you saying that it’s possible by next year we might not have a starting point?

WINDSOR: I think that all options are on the table. This is a framework to work within. We’ve made progress. Obviously, there would have to be there would have to be an agreement in both houses of Parliament of a model that we all agree with. We haven’t seen that model yet and I’m sure there would be arguments and issues raised. Nothing’s settled in my view, I can only speak for myself. I think that the globe, and this is a personal view, should be looking at doing something in relation to climate change. Whether Australia doing something in the context of the globe will be sufficient to have any meaningful effect, my vote will not only be determined on what the committee does, but also in terms of the information and feedback from the globe as to what it’s doing.

OAKESHOTT: Look I certainly support this document and if I have to vote on this tomorrow I would. I do think that this is an important step for there are three critical considerations that the group MPCCC will have and this is one of them, price and compensations will be the other two still to be resolved. But this is a negotiation you know we are around a table for a reason cause we want to get an outcome, an outcome in investment security oh sorry investment certainty energy security and I would hope you also pick up on the land use and biodiversity work that is also starting to creep in and keep your eyes on the first of March when Ross Garnaut next report which will be in this rural land use area. So you know I’m negotiating as hard as I can. I am aspirational on the side of trying to get to a market without a fixed price as quickly as possible. You win some you lose some in the end I’m not going to scuttle an outcome over the architecture so I’m more than happy for this to be released and hopefully in generates a really positive discussion in the community.

GILLARD: We’ll just, we’ll go to Phil Hudson, come back over to Bonge.

JOURNALIST: Oi, oi, oi!

GILLARD: Oh, sorry, your friend generated so much discussion that we got off track. I did promise Laura, then Andrew, then we’ll move around. Laura?

JOURNALIST: Thank you, Prime Minister. Two things: could I just clarify whether there are any constraints on this – explicitly, in the transport sector, whether there’s been any discussion about treatment of petrol prices.

And second, at what stage, if any, will there be a discussion about whether the carbon price is determined by particular targets for greenhouse gas emission?

GILLARD: Well, the transport answer is the one that Greg Combet, Minister Combet, gave to Lenore-

JOURNALIST: -Petrol hasn’t been excluded in any way at this stage?

GILLARD: The coverage and phasing of coverage is something that is still to be talked through, as Minister Combet just explained.

On the targets, this is a mechanism hard-wired to go to a cap-and-trade system, and the reason you have a cap-and-trade system is so that you can deliver to a target.

JOURNALIST: When will that actually come into the negotiations, the target?

GILLARD: Well, the architecture you’ve got in front of you here has the fixed price for 3-5 years. Then it’s hard-wired to go to cap-and-trade. So, the Government’s target remains the target you’re very familiar with, which is the -5 per cent on the current level of global action.


JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, I’d like to tease out the issue of compensation to companies, because one of the big issues the Greens had with the CPRS was the compensation that went to the EITEs, the emission-intensive trade-exposed companies. Is that the broad framework that you would take, because that would put you in trouble with the Greens? What sort of changes would you make to the those, the EITEs, and secondly, on the household compensation, would that also follow the means-tested track that you had under the previous model?

GILLARD: Look, I can’t stand here, and I won’t stand here, guessing the outcomes of future conversations that we will have at the Multi Party Climate Change Committee, so on compensation and assistance for energy-intensive trade-exposed areas of the economy, what I’ve said is that there was good work done as the carbon pollution reduction scheme was worked up. There are clearly conversations to be had about that, conversations we’ll have through the business roundtable, through our non-government organisations roundtable, and round the Multi Party Climate Change Committee table, and we’ll have conversations about household assistance around that table.

Clearly, as a Labor Government, as a Labor Prime Minister, I want to make sure that industry can make the change; that they’ve got a smooth transition in the change. We’re doing this because we want to see future prosperity, a clean-energy economy, the new jobs that come with that, as well as making a contribution on climate change, and as a Labor Prime Minister I will be making sure that impact of a carbon price is fair.

BROWN: (inaudible) clear that we are open to looking at impact on the trade-exposed industries, but there is quite a deal of world experience in this now, and we’ll be looking at that experience because it doesn’t back up some of the alarmist projections we’ve heard in the past, and real experience like that is valuable, and if there is a benefit for Australia having been slow to act in this area, we have some international experience to look at as this Committee deliberates on an outcome.

GILLARD: I did promise Bonge, and then we’ll come back. Bonge?

JOURNALIST: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Is this announcement today a breach of faith with the electorate, given that immediately prior to the election you ruled out a carbon price?

GILLARD: This is the parliament the Australian people voted for. You’re seeing it on display in front of you. This is the parliament Australians voted for, and we have to get on with the job of pricing carbon.

There are real risks in being left behind. I use that analogy with the industrial revolution, with the information technology revolution, deliberately.

History tells us that you need to be on the wave of change. You cannot afford to be stranded and left behind. So it’s the right time to act. We’ve got a collaborative process to work on how we’re going to act, and you’re seeing the product of that collaborative process in terms of this carbon pricing mechanism here today.

JOURNALIST: You are the, on another matter you are the Minister who put the stake through the heart of Work Choices, what do you think about Peter Reith’s suggestion that the Coalition should be re-embracing that and in the same vein, how open are you to changes and amendments to your Fair Work legislation?

GILLARD: I will answer that question, but can we do all questions to the group first, because I don’t think – others may not want to join me as I answer questions about Work Choices and the like. We may have unanimity on that, but then we could get a whole lot of questions that are ones that people would have different views – Greg’s here too I know. Michelle

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, you say the architecture is hard wired to go to a market model, but isn’t it also true that with your long term move to the market and the possibility of deferring, it is possible that you could not have a market model at all, even under a Labor government. And secondly, buy keeping the fixed carbon price for so long, doesn’t it make the system more vulnerable to the opposition at the election simply saying we’ll abolish the carbon price and therefore you don’t really build in certainty for business?

GILLARD: If we can just back up that truck a little bit, because in the fixed price period this is still a market model, it’s a market model in the sense that there will be permits that have a price, so it is a market model, it’s ready to go and it’s hardwired to go to a cap and trade scheme. So that is the default, if you like, that’s built into it. Yes there is a review, 12 months in advance, so that the assessment can be made as to whether anything else needs to be done, but that’s the default that’s built into it.

On your second question, the reality is however this was designed, however it was designed, Tony Abbott would be out there trying to raise fear about it. He’s not interested in the details, he’s not interested in making sense on climate change, the minute I say two words ‘climate change’, he will say ‘great big new tax on everything’ irrespective of any of the details.

JOURNALIST: It was already cap and trade, wasn’t it?

GILLARD: We will just be out there winning that debate, because the simple proposition here is, very simple proposition, if you want to see less carbon pollution then you need to put a price on it, so there’s a signal to people to innovate and create less carbon pollution. Second, we are in a market based economy and in a market based economy the best and most efficient mechanism for pricing carbon pollution is through a market mechanism.

And I would say too on the comparisons with the opposition, Tony Abbott is not talking climate change seriously, he’s got no real plans to address it and I’d have to say it strikes me as an irony that we’re standing here today and the Parliament will vote on the flood levy and Tony Abbott will say Australians can’t afford to pay a $1.8 billion levy, but he’d be quite happy to charge Australians $10.5 billion for his failed climate change program. Something people should contemplate in terms of what Mr Abbott is looking to cost Australians around the country for his failed policy.

JOURNALIST: Just to follow Michelle’s question –

GILLARD: It’s an age before beauty choice, Dennis.

JOURNALIST: I gave Mr Oakeshott the chance to speak, beards together.

Just following up Michelle’s question, it is clear from the provision of the parachute, the deferral, you cannot guarantee that there will be an emissions trading scheme by 2020 under this agreement?

GILLARD: I’ll have Minister Combet answer that, but that’s misunderstanding the timeframes in this document. So Minister Combet will deal with that.

COMBET: Just to be clear. The proposal is that we commence with an emissions trading scheme structure, permits, with a fixed price period of between 3 and 5 years, to be resolved in further discussions, and that it move to emissions trading with a flexible price at that point in time. So if for example, the scheme, the legislation, was legislated and commenced on the first of July, 2012, and there were for example, a three year fixed price period, from the first of July 2015, emissions trading with a flexible price would commence. That is the intent of the document. What is provided for, is the capacity to have a look at the issue twelve months out from the commencement of emissions trading, particularly, obviously, having regard to, the nature of the international negotiations to address climate change, the extent to which of course Australia may have committed to binding obligations in the international community, and at that point in time, twelve months out from the commencement of legislation, the document makes clear that we would set the target to be achieved by 2020. So it’s certainly not canvassing, as you were suggesting, that emissions trading might not be commenced until beyond 2020. It’s specifically canvassing the construction of an emissions trading scheme to commence from the first of July 2012 with a fixed price period at the front.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) emissions trading starts at all, is that the point of the review, to see whether you defer it?

COMBET: No, you’ll see the clear intent of the document is that emissions trading commences, but we want to have the capacity to have a look twelve months out to consider the nature of the international environment, and the other criteria that are set there, and just confirm a number of things. One of them, is the, as I just referred to, what the international obligations we may or may not have at that time might suggest in relation to a target, and I should make clear of course the Government’s position on targets remains as it has been stated for some considerable period of time now, but we will obviously have a look at that at that point in time in relation to the criteria that was set twelve months out from the commencement of emissions trading.

BROWN: Just a removal of doubts clause here – there is no intention to not move to a trading system. There’s a general feeling that that’s where we’re headed, and we’ve got the carbon price as a move in that direction , but if there is a supposition here that there’s some move to not have an emissions trading system, it’s wrong. I don’t pick that up at all in this process, which I think is very positive.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) How long is it possible to have the trading system, a free market emissions trading system when that decision is made, is it open-ended?

COMBET: Let me come back to a few basics here. This is a broad framework document. The question’s quite valid but we have a lot of work to do. And what is canvassed in this document are options on a number of fronts, for example the length of the fixed price period is yet to be determined in the discussions. Some of the other transitional questions are yet to be resolved. It will ultimately be a lot of detailed work and very detailed legislation that will be required and we have a huge amount of work to do. But at this point in time this is an important step forward and the input of stakeholders with the release of this document will be very important and we’ll be looking forward to people’s views about it, identify the issues that no doubt will the subject of further detailed discussion. But don’t get ahead of yourselves. There’s a lot of detailed work to do. The starting price has not yet even been discussed. The household compensation package has not yet been discussed. Support for emissions-intensive trade exposed industries has not yet been discussed. The treatment of the energy sector has not yet been discussed. There’s a lot of detailed work to do be done. And at each point in time when we achieve a detailed outcome, our commitment is to bring it out publicly as we are doing now.

JOURNALIST: Dr Brown, the Prime Minister said that the target for the government is -5 percent, that seems the only thing here that’s clear, or that’s been discussed and put forward. Is that OK for the Greens and it is enough?

BROWN: Well, the target for the Greens is -25 per cent. We went to the election on that, but you know, we are part, here, as the Prime Minister just noted, of working in the service of this country and the way it voted at the last election.

So, again, let me dispel the idea that anybody’s got locked in and is not wanting a good outcome here which is going to service Australia’s economy and its wellbeing into the future.

So, yes, we recognise that’s the Government’s position. We read their policy documents in the run to the election and they’ve read ours. So, these, as the Minister has just said, these are important matters which are going to engage our attention in the coming months and we’re here today because we are on the move with this process and the Prime Minister is overseeing a Committee which is doing good work, and that we’ve come to agreement on this architecture is an indication of that.

You all know the schedule. It’s got a good way to go yet but we’re working hard on it and we have this nation’s wellbeing – whether we come from different starting points, and we do – there’s no doubt that all members on this committee have this nation’s future wellbeing at the forefront in trying to come to decide on those very hard, particular issues which are yet undecided.

JOURNALIST: Would you be willing to accept less than 25 percent?

BROWN: I’ll tell you that by, maybe, July 1.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, given there is one clear point of agreement between you and the Greens, that the market mechanism is the best way to proceed to drive an efficient use of our resources, will you then once this comes in get rid of all the distortions to the market by way of those programs which are spending millions of dollars of government money to fund renewable programs and would the Greens support that?

GILLARD: I think you’ve seen from the government a determination to price carbon, to price carbon in the most efficient way which is through a market based mechanism and to not pursue programs that have got a higher abatement cost that will continue to be the government’s determination. The Multiparty Climate Change Committee is working on how to price carbon, this is an important step today with the release of this document about the mechanism.

Dennis. Sorry, sorry, I was discriminating in favour of Queenslanders.

MILNE: The carbon price is a very important invention in the market place but it is not going to be enough on its own to drive the transformation to renewable energy in the time frame in that we need because we are unlikely to get a higher enough price to be able to do that so we are still going to need the renewable energy target in my view we will still need a feed in tariff and so on we will need both a carbon price and complementary measures but I do agree that a lot of the ad-hocking interventions by way of grants and so on will be able to be taken up because we are going to systemic change

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you agree with Senator Milne when she says that this kind of plan could not be delivered by majority government?

GILLARD: I mightn’t share Christine’s exact words, but this parliament gives us some opportunities, some opportunities and we are taking them to price carbon and it’s the right time to do it and that’s why we are seizing this opportunity to get the job done.

Now I am under no illusions about how difficult the debate ahead of us will be. We’ve got some in detailed and complex work to do within this committee, I suspect we will have a fast and furious public debate with Mr Abbott out there doing everything he can to raise fear in the community and we will engage in that debate and we won’t take a step backwards in that debate because this is the right time to price carbon, we are working on the right mechanism to get it done. The one in front of you is the right mechanism, there is more work to do, but we will keep working through and delivering to the timetable to price carbon on 1st July 2012.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, have you set a timetable for when you want to make decisions on the precise carbon price and the household electricity assistance?

GILLARD: Minister Combet has set a punishing work program for us all, so he can describe that.

COMBET: Obviously it’s very detailed work. And there’ll be a lot of discussion that we have to go through. But to meet a timeframe to have legislation through the parliament so the scheme could commence from 1 July next year, we’ve got a lot of work to do over the next four or five months in particular. And we can’t predict at this point in time the precise date upon which we might settle on any special element of the package. But we’ve been working pretty hard already and there’s going to be a bit more to do.

JOURNALIST: Senator Brown, could this deal have been done more than 12 months ago, given that you and Senator Milne are in the same position?

BROWN: Could we have done?

JOURNALIST: This deal, why wasn’t it achieved 12 months ago?

BROWN: Because we’re in a democracy, and we’re in a situation where we’re working. All parties went to the election with differing points of view, but committed to tackling climate change and we’re in the process of combining those to come up with an outcome which reflects the Australian people’s vote.

On the question about majority or minority government, what we’re needing here, and I think what we’re seeing, is good government.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister or Minister Combet, do we need a legally binding –

GILLARD: This is going to have to be the last one, we’ve got some very important flood levy legislation to go and vote on. Paul.

JOURNALIST: OK, can you tell me, do we need a legally binding global agreement before we move to a fixed price?

GILLARD: We’re going to be moving to a fixed price under this model on 1st July 2012.

JOURNALIST: Sorry, before we move to a flexible price?

GILLARD: The criteria that Minister Combet’s gone through include international linking, the depth and liquidity of the international carbon credits market, that’s going to be a consideration that we work through. I wouldn’t use the work condition no.

JOURNALIST: Can you answer my Work Choices question now?

You are the Minister that got rid of Work Choices.

GILLARD: Correct.

JOURNALIST: Peter Reith now says that the Coalition should be re-embracing its principles, what do you think of that and how is your latest advice on how the Fair Work Act is settling down and do you leave open the possibility of amendments?

GILLARD: I don’t think there’s any news today on this topic, the Coalition loves Work Choices, it’ll always love Work Choices and it’s never seen an industrial instrument that took pay and conditions away from a worker that it wasn’t prepared to embrace. So that is, was and always will be. Peter Reith is perhaps being a bit more frank about it than Mr Abbott’s been, but the Coalition is in the embrace of Work Choices.

So if Mr Abbott was elected to government it would follow that we would see the reintroduction of Work Choices.

On the Fair Work Act, I believe the Fair Work Act is working as we wanted it to. It’s an enterprise based bargaining system which enables businesses to respond to the need to drive productivity. We’ve had all sorts of statistics, including industrial action statistics which would lead you to believe the system is working well.

JOURNALIST: Just one about Libya, the President of the United States –

GILLARD: We do have to go vote, so last, last one. Seriously last one.

JOURNALIST: The full range of options when it comes to Libya, does that extend do you think to possible military intervention, what are your thoughts about the options on the table?

GILLARD: Look, our position on Libya is as it’s been outlined by both me and the Foreign Minister. I mean the situation on the ground is chaotic, we’re involved in consular work to assist Australians to get out and we are getting people out and we’re looking to get some more out on a US chartered ferry during the course of today.

We absolutely endorse what has been said by the international community, what’s been said in terms of the Security Council and other commentary. This is a vile regime and we are seeing – the violence that’s happened on the ground is grossly unacceptable and some of the language used by Colonel Gaddafi, which would lead you to believe that he is ready to wreak bloody vengeance against his own people is disgusting and wrong. The international community does need to respond and it has been responding and we will ensure that the Australian voice continues to be heard in that response.

But we might go and vote for the flood levy.

JOURNALIST: What do you know about two Australians who have been detained in Tripoli and also will the tax summit still be held before the middle of the year as promised?

GILLARD: On the Tripoli question we’ll have to get back to you with some details, OK? And we’ll deal with those things a bit later too, we’re under real time pressure.

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