Feb 7, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffe


Parliament House, Canberra

7 February 2006

Subject: COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffernan, Mark Latham

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today there has been speculation that at the COAG meeting on Friday there will be the issue of smart meters for energy efficiency savings put on the National Agenda. That is a good thing but what we need to do is to put climate change in general on the national agenda. Both South Australia and New South Wales have called for National Summits when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate change. Yet what we see from the government is that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target has run out of steam and renewable industries are talking about moving offshore. What we are also seeing is a failure to address on the national level the need to take strong action.

The states and territories have been developing a state based emissions trading scheme model. That is preferable to no action at all but what is really required is for the national government to come in and to have a national emission trading system. That would be best for efficiency and would be best for Australian business. We need market signals through pricing carbon. That has been acknowledged by the Environment Minister and by the Treasurer, but they say not yet. The longer we wait the higher the cost of action to avoid dangerous climate change will be.

Secondly, I want to make a comment about today and the issues confronting the Prime Minister. The issue is this. Will the Prime Minister continue to turn a blind eye to Senator Heffernan’s behaviour just as he has turned a blind eye to the $300 million in kickbacks that have been given to Saddam Hussein? That is a challenge for the Prime Minister. He has failed it up until now.

Senator Heffernan is a repeat offender and yet no action has been taken by Prime Minister John Howard. At the same time as he has turned a blind eye to the actions of Senator Heffernan he is saying essentially he will turn a blind eye to the AWB kickback scandal that has put $300 million into the back pocket of Saddam Hussein at the exact same time as he was preparing to take Australians to war.

JOURNALIST: Senator Heffernan is regarded as being close to the Prime Minister. Do you believe his actions reflect on the Prime Minister’s judgement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is no doubt that Senator Heffernan has been hand picked by the Prime Minister in the past to be his parliamentary secretary, it is clear that he is a close confident of the Prime Minister and I think that it is about time that the Prime Minister pulled Senator Heffernan into line. But the problem with John Howard is that you have a Prime Minister who is not prepared to take responsibility. Just as he will not take responsibility for his own back bench, he won’t take responsibility for the AWB $300 million in kickbacks that went to Saddam Hussein at a time when he was preparing to take Australia to war against Iraq.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese do you have any sympathy for Mr Latham in his current predicament?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s a sad situation and I don’t intend to comment beyond which I have in the past about Mr Latham.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any sympathy for him?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that Mr Latham is someone who I think is going through difficult circumstances and I wouldn’t want to add to that. I actually am someone who has some compassion for all people who are going through difficulties. Obviously he is and I don’t wish to add to those difficulties.

Thank you.