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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Monday, 16 September 2002
Well, thank you very much for coming along to this brief doorstop. I want to strongly refute the claims that have been made by some interest groups and by the Labor Party today, that any information which has become available in recent times has any impact whatever on the Government's case for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The data that I released last Friday clearly shows that the longer term interests of Australia, our longer term national interests, are in not ratifying the Protocol. There could be very heavy costs on Australia over the longer term and that has been at the basis of the Government's case, right from the start. Australia is of course taking strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We're working very hard to reach the target that we undertook in the course of the negotiations and that's recognised around the world. Australia is seen as a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But there has been an outrageous manipulation of the data today, and I want to completely refute the suggestion that anything in this data shows other than that Australia's long term interests are in not ratifying the Protocol. Australia's long term interests are clearly indicated by the fact that our major competitor countries in our region are not accepting legal obligations under the Protocol. The fact that developing countries ratify the Protocol has no bearing on the Australian case, because these countries would not be accepting legally binding targets. And so their position would be totally different to the position of Australia, if we were to ratify the Protocol. I'm very happy to take any questions.
How reliable is Professor McKibbin's modelling, given that he's been so strongly opposed to the Kyoto Protocol for so long?
Well that seems to be putting it around the wrong way. I mean, Professor McKibbin has done the analysis his modelling has been selected by a very high level committee of Government agencies as one of the two credible modelling approaches in Australia. Professor McKibbin clearly draws from his own modelling the conclusion that it is not in Australia's long-term interest. And anybody looking at the data that is presented would have to arrive at that conclusion.
But couldn't he be said to be a bit biased, given he's been opposed to Kyoto for such a long time?
Well, I just can't understand why you would put it that way. I mean, here we have one of Australia's leading academics, a leading modeller, who's well aware of the data and well aware of the results of the modelling, who has drawn the obvious conclusion from his modelling that it is not in Australia's long term interests to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
What do you make of Bob Carr's comment today, going out alone?
Well, I think the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made a very good and clear statement on this point, speaking on behalf of Australian businesses. And what Australian businesses are saying is that it is a nonsense for a State to go out and try to pursue its own approach, which is not part of a national approach. The Labor Party, unfortunately, is choosing to play very shallow politics with this, it's walking along in a conga line of people who just want to be barrackers but don't want to apparently do the hard thinking. As soon as anyone does the hard thinking on this, they see that we need a strong national approach and they see that it's not in Australia's long term interest at the present time to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Because there is no pathway for the involvement of developing countries in that Protocol and there is no global approach in place which involves the United States. Australia's position is that there has to be a global approach. It has to be one which involves the developing countries, it has to be one in which the United States can find that it can take part. Because if we don't do that we will have the vast bulk of global emissions outside any regime and we will not satisfactorily address the issue of global warming.
Why has it taken so long to release Professor McKibbin's report?
Well it hasn't taken so long, there's been a great deal of internal analysis done on these reports but we've got these reports out at the earliest moment. And I believe that they have an important role in informing the public debate.
What about Premier Beattie's comments, saying that he supported the Prime Minister's tough stance?
I haven't heard those comments.
This morning in Brisbane ...
Well, I welcome them ... if Premier Beattie is supporting the Government on this, then I welcome those comments. Thank you very much.