Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Rudd committed to climate change policy

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd says Labor will never "pull up the white flag" on climate change and it is the wrong time to change direction on the issue.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal Labor's carbon tax, which is now transitioning to an emissions trading scheme, if the coalition wins Saturday's election.  But Labor says it won't back away from this policy.

The coalition has hinted it may resort to a double dissolution if Labor and the Greens thwart their mandate to axe the tax.

Mr Rudd says Labor remains committed to its course of action on climate change, including the emissions trading scheme. "If we in Australia turn our back on it, it licenses everyone around the world to do the same," he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

"You can do the easy thing and pull up a white flag on climate change.  "We'll never do that for the simple reason that our actions are part of responsible global action to bring down the impact of global warming."

He says climate change and global warming aren't going away and voters who have doubts about the coalition's direct action plan shouldn't vote for them. 

Mr Rudd later said voters unsure about action on climate change should think about the world they want for their grandchildren.

"Look in the eyes of your kids and through them see the eyes of your grandkids, ask yourself this question: which side of history do you want to be on when it comes to the future of climate change and global warming," he told Gold FM in Melbourne.

"If you don't act now, 50 years time it's too late."

Mr Rudd said some of Labor's measures had been controversial, but they had been working.

"To give your listeners a sense of encouragement, in the last five years we've actually brought down the level of carbon emissions from electricity generation in Australia by seven per cent, we've now got more than a million solar panels on roofs across Australia - when we started in office there were 7,500.

"So big changes are occurring but we've got to keep making them in order to have an effect in the future."


Tony Abbott willing to break emissions pledge over funding hole

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has branded the election a referendum on the carbon tax and said it would be “unimaginable” for a defeated Labor Party to stop him repealing the tax.

Mr Abbott also confirmed categorically – for the first time – that he would break the Coalition's pledge on greenhouse reduction targets if it cost more money than he had budgeted for.

The Opposition Leader spent about 15 minutes of a 20 minute address to the National Press Club hammering Labor on the carbon tax. If elected the Coalition would repeal the tax within its first year in government, Mr Abbott promised.

“A Coalition victory, should it happen, will be a warning from alienated Labor voters to their leaders,” Mr Abbott declared. “Never again sell Labor's soul to another party.”

But when asked how he could repeal the carbon tax without calling a double dissolution election – given Labor and the Greens would likely block his repeal – Mr Abbott said he thought Labor would accept his “mandate”.

“It's unimaginable that a defeated Labor Party would persist with a carbon tax,” Mr Abbott said.

“Having lost one election through support for a carbon tax, why on God's earth would you lose a second supporting the same failed policy?”

Mr Abbott confirmed he was prepared to break the Coalition's pledge to cut Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 (on the levels recorded in 2000). Estimates by Treasury and independent modelling companies suggest that the Coalition's $3.2 billion Direct Action policy will fall several billion dollars short of reaching the targets.

“The bottom line is we will spend as much as we have budgeted, no more and no less,” Mr Abbott said.

“We will get as much environmental improvement, as much emissions reduction as we can for the spending that we've budgeted.”

During a wide-ranging question and answer session following his speech, Mr Abbott waded into the culture wars over the national curriculum; the privatisation of Medibank; commitment of troops in foreign wars; and whether he would encourage his daughters to pursue careers in public life.

Last week in launching his education policy, Mr Abbott's statement said the national curriculum had been “politicised”. Asked what he meant by that, the Opposition Leader said the Coalition was mostly referring to the history curriculum.

The national history curriculum lacked references to “our heritage, other than an indigenous heritage” and had too great a focus on “issues which are the predominant concern of one side of politics”.

“I think the unions are mentioned far more than business,” Mr Abbott added. “I think there are a couple of Labor prime ministers that get a mention, from memory not a single Coalition prime minister.”

But Mr Abbott assured educators he would not “directly dictate” his views to them, but would simply offer his advice.

Responding to other questions, the opposition leader said he thought any decision to send Australian troops into battle should be debated by Parliament, and he confirmed the Coalition would sell Medibank Private.

Given the prominent role of his daughters in his campaign, Mr Abbott was asked whether he would encourage them to pursue careers in public life, given the sexist taunts directed at Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard.

Mr Abbott said it was a “tough call”.  “If they showed an interest, obviously I would give them as much encouragement as I could.”  "[But] I would also want to warn them that it is a pretty tough field, and if you're going to go into it you're going to cop a lot of barbs," he said.

"That's why in this business you've got to have a thick skin as well as a strong ego."


Gay marriage may hurt Labor: Beattie

LABOR'S star candidate Peter Beattie admits the prime minister's support for gay marriage may hurt the party's vote in some key marginal seats including Forde, which he is trying to win from the LNP.

Mr Rudd is the first Australian prime minister to go into an election supporting marriage equality.  He has promised that if Labor is returned to power on Saturday, it will introduce within 100 days a bill to parliament to legalise same-sex marriage.

A number of conservative religious groups have been dismayed by his stance.

Mr Beattie says many people with strong religious beliefs oppose gay marriage, but many others respect Mr Rudd's decision to stand up for what he believes in.  "In politics you have to have the guts to stand for something and the PM has," he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.  "I've explained this to people, this is a difficult issue."

Mr Beattie says he's a Christian, but: "Why wouldn't we want two people who are in love to actually enjoy that relationship."

Mr Rudd in the same interview said he was "just concerned about doing what I believe to right, whether people think it's popular or not".

He said the churches would "forever" retain the right to conduct marriage ceremonies exclusively between a man and a woman, but the secular state was separate.

"A secular state should not be sensitive to questions of sexuality and they should be able to conduct secular ceremonies in the manner in which the state chooses, and that is not discriminating against same-sex couples."


Scripture is simply all Greek to Rudd

RELIGIOUS leaders have sharpened their attacks on Kevin Rudd, citing his hamfisted attempts to argue the biblical case for same-sex marriage in a spirited shellacking of a Christian pastor on Monday night.

Broad views abounded but one of the most prominent Anglicans in the country and Old Testament scholar, the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, said the Prime Minister was "profoundly wrong" and alleged he had actually quoted Aristotle when he suggested that "slavery is a natural condition" was in the Bible.

"I was disappointed by Mr Rudd's comments last night in the same way that I was disappointed by the position he announced in May despite, as he said, much reflection," Dr Davies told The Australian.

"Unfortunately in my view, he has not been reflecting on the teaching of scripture. He misquoted the Bible and attributed to the Bible something that Aristotle said."

Dr Davies said the Bible was perfectly clear on both the subject of slavery -- on which it documents many observations -- and same-sex marriage.

"The Bible sees slavery as the result of fallen and broken relationships in society and it is crystal clear in its condemnation of the slave trade,"he said.

"The Bible views marriage as an institution that God has created. Jesus brings clarity to the nature of marriage by saying that it is an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman, for life.

"Although there are many kinds of relationships in our society, to describe the relationship between two persons of the same sex as marriage is contrary to the Bible's teaching."

In the Greek philosopher's book Politics, Aristotle wrote: "For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule."

Former prime minister John Howard yesterday backed a conscience vote for the Coalition on same-sex marriage, but added his own view that the matter was "nonsense".

"The present (law) doesn't discriminate against people, it just recognises not only a long-standing attitude and custom but also recognises that anything we can do to preserve current notions of marriage are more likely on balance to provide the best environment for raising children," he told reporters in Adelaide yesterday.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said Mr Rudd's tone in responding to pastor Matt Prater was a portent of things to come.

"You need only look at his tone on (the ABC's) Q&A to realise he will really clamp down on freedom of speech and freedom of religion if he is elected again," he said. "What Mr Rudd is saying is there is no place for you in Australia if you hold these views."


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