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Christine Milne's National Press Club election address

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Christine Milne 4 Sep 2013

Thank you very much indeed. I'm delighted to be here. It's great to be within a few days of polling day after having had such a great campaign around the country with the Greens.

I want to start by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders past and present. In that context, I want to say how pleased I am that as a result of the agreement that we signed with former Prime Minister Gillard, that we have advanced the cause of Indigenous recognition in our constitution. The Greens will work in this period of government, with whoever forms government, to make sure we achieve Aboriginal recognition in the constitution and to get rid of racial discrimination from that document once and forever.

One of the really wonderful experiences of the election campaign so far was heading up to Darwin to spend time with our Senate candidate up there Warren H Williams. In the course of that I heard from Warren the work he was doing in Aboriginal communities particularly on health issues, but also trying to secure education in language. And that is so important if you're going to maintain culture. But in the course of that, I got talking to Warren and to our House of Reps candidate up there, Todd Williams, both musicians. They'd both been out to the detention centre in Darwin and they had started a jam session for the benefit of the asylum seekers in the detention centre. And over the wall, and through the gates, that music made connection. They were so moved by the experience and the engagement that had happened, that Warren has now written a song about that. That will eventually be released. What it does say to us is when Warren came back he said to me how ashamed he was as an Aboriginal person that this cruelty was taking place on Aboriginal land. And I thought to myself, Aboriginal people certainly have a great deal to teach us all. In terms of what Warren has said, it's pretty much the same. Everywhere I've been around the country in this election campaign, people have come up to me and said they really reject the cruelty, the race to the bottom in the treatment of people seeking asylum in our country and so many people, more than 10,000, have signed on with the Greens to the web site and the advertisement that says not in my name, not with my vote. And I'm really proud of the fact that so many Australians have stood up with the Greens to say we won't tolerate that kind of cruelty.

Now, one of those is a wonderful old lady called Beryl. I want to wish Beryl a happy birthday today. She's 80 today and I'd like you to read the letter that she has written and letterboxed herself in the seat of Melbourne. This is pretty extraordinary.

This week I'll turn 80. I have lived in the electorate of Melbourne for nearly 30 years. Like many of my friends, I'm disturbed by the direction of politics with a level of meanness from both the Liberal and Labor Parties on the treatment of the most vulnerable. This includes appalling refugee policies, cuts to overseas aid to fund offshore detention, and the unfair level of Centrelink payments to unemployed and single parents raising teenagers. This pandering to an uncaring element around Australia is surely out of step with the values we hold in the electorate of Melbourne. The election of Adam Bandt at the last election proved so important in preventing an Abbott government achieving expanded Medicare cover for dental care, a price on carbon and support for renewable energy. His work has given me hope.

And goes on from there. But that just shows you what the feeling is out there in the electorate. Because I can tell you that many people are feeling exactly the same way as Beryl. They're feeling really disappointed, because they wanted this election to be a contest of ideas about the future of this country. A contest of ideas about what it might look like in 10, 20 or 50 years' time. A contest of ideas about what heights this nation might scale as we move into the Asian Century and as we deal with the challenges of living in a more globalised, more connected and a hotter and wetter world.

At another level, people have been really disappointed because they are feeling under pressure in their day-to-day lives. They're feeling less satisfied with their lives and they feel like the daily grind is just wearing them down, and they wanted a national conversation during this election campaign about quality of life in our society. Is there a way to guarantee a good and secure life for their children and their children's children and at the same time how can you pay the bills, how can you put food on the table, how can you secure affordable housing, how can you have time to visit your friends and your aged relatives and participate in the community? That's the kind of conversation people were hoping to have, but instead of that, this federal election has been dominated by the small, mean, narrow, tedious and entirely predictable race to the bottom from the old parties.

It's actually deteriorated into American-style politics which I don't think Australians like very much, where it has become the politics of celebrity, of political theatre, of distraction. And people are fed up with it and they just want it to be over. And so I got thinking to myself, well, why has that actually happened in Australia? And it's pretty clear, this election has basically been confined to one world view and it is a world view that is shared by both the Liberal and Labor Parties and they only differ to a degree, they don't differ in terms of having a different perspective in how the world should be. So just let me give you an example. They agree on refugee policy, trying to outdo each other in cruelty. They are both prepared to condemn single parents to poverty, in order to bring the budget into surplus earlier. They are prepared to let the big miners off the hook because they're both terrified of the advertising campaign and the political power of the big miners. They basically look at women in our community and they say, okay, 80% of single parents are women, but too bad, we are going to protect the vested interests instead. They are jeopardising the future with their preparedness to cut university funding. And how can you think that that is a good thing to do if you have a view about the future which says we have to move from a dig it up, cut it down, ship it away type economy to one that is based on innovation and a future which requires such a strong education base. They're also refusing to raise revenue from those who can afford to pay, whether it's the banks or the miners, or getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies and the fact of the matter is if you want a debate, you have to have both sides of the argument. And we haven't had both sides of the argument in any of the leaders' debates or any of the portfolio debates because they're fundamentally agreed.

One of the academics in Australia, Richard Eckersley, talks about a survey done in 2005, and he said that Australians were basically asked to choose between two positive scenarios to the future, and which one they expected to happen and which one they preferred to happen. Now the first one was focus on individual wealth, economic growth and efficiency and enjoying the good life for those who could get it. The other one was based on community, family, equality, and environmental sustainability. And people basically came back and 73% said they expected the former to be future scenario, but actually, 93% said they preferred the latter. And that's what's been wrong with this election campaign. The Rudd and Abbott debate, their party machines, most of the media, have confined the debate at the election to that one scenario of individual wealth, economic growth and efficiency and enjoying the good life for a few and they have left aside that whole world that is different and that's where the Greens have come in. So actually what's interesting about this election is not what has been debated, it is what has actually been left out of the debates. Family, environment, community - that's what people wanted to talk about but it hasn't been there except for the Greens. We have been standing up for what matters, we've been saying what does matter is caring for people and caring for the environment. And that should be at the heart of government. And it's not that there isn't strong leadership in this country for that scenario. Yes, there is, and it's with the Greens. It's not that there isn't a different world view. It's not that there isn't certainty about that kind of vision. It's that it simply has to be found with the Greens. You won't get it from the old parties.

Now when you're talking about building a more caring society, when you're talking about lifting people out of poverty, you have to start with Newstart and Youth Allowance and support for single parents and the Greens have. We've said right through this election and well before it, we need to lift people out of poverty, we need to increase those by $50 a week with an extra supplement for single parents. We've also said we have to reduce the pressure on people's daily lives, that is, invest in public transport, for example. That's a critical way of improving the amenity of cities and take pressure off people, and I know my colleague Adam Bandt has been working very hard on Doncaster Rail in Melbourne, as one of those projects that would do that. But another issue in this world view the Greens are talking about which people raise with me all the time is housing affordability. Homelessness. How can students afford somewhere to live? What about women who've ended up without superannuation, and in middle age, forced into homelessness and shelters? These are real issues people want to talk about and they haven't been there in the election campaign, but the Greens have put them on the agenda and we've said we want to build 200,000 new homes in the next decade to look at that issue of homelessness and affordability. We've talked about access to fresh food, local, seasonal, looking at also out-of-pocket expenses for health care and dental care. We've wanted to put $660 million into Medicare and also $4.9 billion into Denticare because this is actually about significant social change. We've also gone for the universities and the TAFEs and said we want $5 billion to go into those. We want to reverse the cuts and we want to increase funding. Because if you're serious about education, it has to be from early childhood right through school, into university and TAFE and lifelong learning. That is what is required for this century and anyone who doesn't understand that isn't actually taking on the future in a realistic way. But we've also said you need access to child care and aged care and that's why we've said we wanted to put an extra $2 billion into child care, because it's not just access it's actually having the facilities in the area that you live with the capacity to look after children from babies through to the older demographic.

You also have ending discrimination. This is where the Greens stand alone again. We're the only party that has stood up and said we don't support discrimination of any kind in Australia and we want it removed. And that is why for marriage equality, every Green MP, every time, will vote for equality and ending discrimination. And we will end discrimination, whether it comes to employment practices, whether it comes to access to aged care facilities. This is about a discrimination issue. And trying to turn it into a conscience issue suggests that people would regard women's rights, for example, as a conscience issue. Well, I don't think so. I don't think that that is an appropriate way to view this and that's why the Greens are on the record in this way. We're also talking about addressing job security, making sure that people in the work force are able to consider work/life balance as they go through their working years. And of course, looking after our agricultural land and water so that we can grow food into the future in this country. And finally of course, issues like being connected, supporting the NBN, and the Greens have been out there since Day 1, supporting that. So we actually see all of those things in the context of a big picture in a world that is transforming.

If we're going to re-vision how we live, it has to be up front, honest, and through the forward windscreen. It should not be through the rear vision mirror. And that is the difference between the Greens and the others. We are seeing this as facing up to global warming, facing up to increased population pressures, facing up to habitat loss, facing up to the real challenges of the century, whereas Tony Abbott is looking backwards. It's a back-to-the future strategy, whereas the Greens are offering honest, straight, strong leadership, saying these are the challenges and we've got to face them, he is offering weak and backward-looking leadership by saying that business as usual will do, and it won't. And that's why the Greens are saying if you take global warming seriously, this is where you get serious about redesigning our cities, for example. What we have to do is take advantage of the changes and get ahead of the curve. And so in cities, be looking at public transport. You'd be looking at much more energy efficient buildings. You'd be looking at cycle ways. You'd be looking at zero waste strategies, container deposit legislation. Powering our whole community with 100% renewable energy and that really gets the whole community thinking about how they cannot only participate in that, but how buildings in cities can become power stations amongst themselves. We want clean air and clean water and healthy people. We want to make sure that we have environmental sustainability at the fore, and that means looking after our precious places in the context of the pressure they're going to be under from global warming, from habitat destruction, from population increases, how do we look after them and sustain them in the longer term?

Now, all that is at risk. If the polls are right, and Tony Abbott is elected as Prime Minister, if he gets absolute control of both Houses of Parliament, that vision for the future, that whole world view will be sidelined completely. That's why we need Adam Bandt returned in the House of Reps and we need a strong Senate, with the Greens returned to hold the balance of power in the Senate to stop the excesses of an Abbott government. A vote for the Greens in the Senate is a vote to stand up on things that matter, things like global warming and carbon pricing. Now I've been an environmentalist all my life. And I can tell you the things that I have secured with others, with communities over time - the coral reefs of New Caledonia, several National Parks, threatened species - they're all at risk because of global warming. Now so far in this critical decade of addressing climate change, with the IPCC report to be due in a few weeks' time, we know the world is on track for 4 to 5 degrees of warming. That is an unlivable planet in the shape that we understand it now. That's why we have a price on pollution in Australia. That's why we've got the Climate Change Authority to set the targets. That's why we've got the Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to get behind the rollout of renewables at scale in a time frame that gives us a chance. It's why we also secured the biodiversity fund and the clean technology fund, because it's not just about renewable energy and reducing emissions from energy, it's about storing carbon in the landscape and keeping that carbon in the landscape and maintaining biodiversity. But it's also stopping expanded coal and fossil fuels. We're the only party honest enough to stand up and say if you're serious about addressing global warming then that coal and that gas has to stay in the ground. 80% of fossil fuels have to stay in the ground, that's what we have to do, and we've got the courage to stand up and say it.

Whereas what you've got from the old parties is saying they're prepared to open up the Galilee and Bowen Basins. They're prepared to build new cold ports up and down the Great Barrier Reef. They are prepared to put World Heritage in danger before the Great Barrier Reef and threaten the 63,000 jobs in tourism that are on the reef. Tony Abbott has come out and said that he will pull the forests that we've just had listed as World Heritage, Tasmania's magnificent old-growth forests, at last, great carbon stores, great banks of biodiversity in those forests, he will pull them out of World Heritage and that will be another Australian World Heritage site listed as World Heritage in danger. And let me go for a moment to extinctions. We have got the government this week refusing to fund the Save the Tasmanian Devil program, both Coalition and Labor have said they will mine the Tarkine in spite of fact that the Australian Heritage Commission has said that it should be protected. In Victoria the Leadbeaters' possum is faced with extinction. All around the Australia, this is the face of the environment.

Now, Tony Abbott has shown his true colours on climate change. Whereas the Greens have come out at this election and said increase our level of ambition. Let's increase the renewable energy target to 90% by 2030. Let's put more money into the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, not less. Let's make it 30 billion over 10 years. Let's get into this. Let's actually improve the grid, connect the renewables, get new renewable energy zones that would see Port Augusta, for example, be able to move to solar thermal, to see Western Australia be able to host solar thermal. That is the kind of vision people want to see. But Tony Abbott has said, no, after having cast a pall of uncertainty over the whole country in terms of energy investment in recent years, he's basically stopped the rollout of investment in solar and wind for the last 12 months because people don't know what the energy policy is going to be. He's now abandoned any pretense of action. He's gone back to saying if that if his money doesn't cover a 5% reduction in emissions he doesn't care, that's all he's spending, it doesn't matter to him. Once a sceptic, always a sceptic. He said that he thought climate change was crap, and that is exactly his position right now and he doesn't care. I cannot believe that he stands up with his daughters on a stage and he doesn't care about global warming because that means he doesn't care about what happens to them in 2050. That is the reality, and people have to start thinking about what it is they need to do for their own children. He will also be a global embarrassment at the G20 and in the global climate talks because 2015 is the year we're trying to negotiate a global treaty on climate change and he is the one who will be walking away from that and Australia will be looking ridiculous in global terms and he will have pulled down, if he gets absolute power, the whole framework that the International Energy Agency said was template legislation for developed countries. Now, we should be really proud of that in Australia, that we have led the way during this last period of shared power in Australia, we led the way on climate policy. It should be an embarrassment if that is at risk.

He thinks now he can stop the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and he can't. I'm today releasing advice from the Clerk of the Senate that conclusively demonstrates that an Abbott government cannot stop the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from undertaking its legislative obligations to fund clean energy projects around the country without Parliament amending the legislation. That's because when we designed the legislation we made sure we had in it the money that needs to flow. Mr Abbott and Mr Robb are arrogantly assuming they can usurp the role of the Parliament and direct the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to halt its legislative function and they simply can't do it. Only the Parliament can repeal the carbon price and only the Parliament can stop the rollout of renewable energy through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and that's why you need a strong Green voice in the Senate, Adam Bandt in the reps, and a Greens in the Senate to stand up against the excesses of an Abbott government and on the 7th of September, Abbott-proof the Senate.

Now, beyond that, there are a number of things that Tony Abbott can't do if the Greens are in balance of power in the Senate. I shall run through a few quickly. He can't get rid of the instant asset write-off for small business, for example. He can't get rid of the social safety net that he wants to take the measly $4 a week from some of our poorest people. Well, he can't do that if the Greens are there to prevent him from doing so. He can't stop refugees being stripped of their legal rights, if the Greens are in the Senate to prevent him from doing so. He can't take away the retirement incomes of low paid workers by abolishing the low income superannuation tax rebate if we are there. Equally, if we are there, he can't devolve the decision-making powers on the environment to the States. That is critical to protect our National Parks, to protect our wonderful wild areas. And finally, if the Greens are there in balance of power in the Senate, he can't repeat WorkChoices, or the resurrection of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, so that it would treat workers in such an appalling way.

There are a number of things we could work with a Coalition government to do, there are some issues on which we would work with them. One is on paid parental leave. We believe it is a workplace entitlement, and that's why we say that Tony Abbott's plan is way too excessive and generous, we would rein it in to be fairer. We've also recognised, they have said at various times, that they have strong family values, so you would think they would want to ban junk food advertising during television hours, I would think that that would obviously be something they would like to do. And Julie Bishop has said she'd like to see semi-automatic handguns banned. Well that's great so do the Greens. We'd work with them on that to make our community safer. They've also said they want to put dental into Medicare. Well the Greens have driven that, so we'd be prepared to work with them to drive it even harder. They've also said they would have a more stringent test on the national interest when it comes to the Foreign Investment Review Board and the foreign ownership of agricultural land and water. The Greens take a stronger position than the Coalition does, however, we would work with them to strengthen what is there already.

With only a few days to go in this election, the Greens are here to inject hope into the Australian community, because I know people are really worried about an Abbott government. They are even more worried at the prospect of an unfettered power arrangement for Tony Abbott if he had effective control of both houses. That's why the Greens are fielding a fantastic team of outstanding candidates around the country and really, we do have a wonderful membership and great candidates and they are battling with conservative forces everywhere they're standing. So Adam Stone in Queensland, for example, is battling it out with the Katter party for that last Senate seat. Cate Faehrmann in New South Wales is battling it out with the Shooters and with Pauline Hanson and we all know what happened in New South Wales when the Shooters got in, they sold off the electricity system in exchange for shooting in National Parks. That's the kind of thing that would be on the agenda unless we get Cate in from New South Wales. Here in the ACT, Simon Sheikh, this is a good opportunity for an upset for the Greens here, and to actually be able to send a strong signal that cutting 12 to 20,000 public service jobs is wrong way, go back. The Greens believe that public servants do real work and do real jobs even though they don't wear fluorescent sent vests and hard hats. They work.

In South Australia, Sarah Hanson-Young is battling is out with the Conservatives, conservative side of politics and in Western Australia, it's exactly the same for Scott Ludlam. Peter Wish-Wilson and Janet Rice in Victoria and Tasmania are battling it out with Family First so we have got a struggle on our hands and the Australian community can choose. Either, a united strong team of Greens with a worldview which talks about care for the environment, care for people, which wants to put community, family, equality, environmental sustainability back into the heart of government, or they will see an Abbott government potentially with effective power in both Houses, unfettered, off the leash, able to do as he likes. In Melbourne, Adam Bandt, what an outstanding candidate he is, and what a good vibe that is going on in Melbourne. I'm confident he can be returned because the Greens' voice needs to be heard in the House of Representatives as well.

We not only have a great team of candidates, we have fantastic policies. I have to tell you I am really proud of the suite of policies we're taking to this election. They are comprehensive. They're internally consistent. They're fully costed. Unlike any other party we're consistent. We're staying if you want to deal with global warming you can't go opening up new coal mines. You have to be consistent if you're serious about policy and principle. If you want to get people out of poverty you can't block single parents getting greater support or putting more into Newstart. They're fully costed, and what's great is that this year we've got 140 endorsements from our policies from major groups from around the country. Don't take my word for it, please go to our web site - - and you'll see some of them. But they come from people like Dr Russell Roberts, chair of the National Alliance for Rural and Regional Mental Health. He has said of our policy, "it's one of the most sensible pieces of policy work I have seen from a political party on rural mental health in the last 25 years." I want to thank Penny Wright who's sitting here who worked so hard on that particular policy position. We've got also got from the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, "only the Greens have developed the sort of integrated policy approach we believe is needed to meet the serious food supply challenges we face in coming years and decades." The insurance companies, the NRMA and CGU, have supported our commitment for increased expenditure on pre-disaster resilience, to $350 million a year, saying "this is an ambitious program but one that we believe is critical to this nation's future safety and prosperity." Even the AMA, Dr Steve Hambleton, has come out and said and congratulated the Greens on health policy saying that our policy to restore Medicare benefit, and return more than $600 million is Medicare funding is great. They're just some of the examples of people who have endorsed us. Equally, all our policies are costed. We've put them through, and we are putting them through as the election rolls out, to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and we are complying with the charter of budget honesty, which Tony Abbott is not. What an irony that he is the one who says they are responsible economic managers and yet they are going to this election with a junk policy on a global warming with Direct Action, for example, but not one policy have they put into the Parliamentary Budget Office. The Labor Party have put in 61 policies to Treasury. We've put in 74 to the Parliamentary Budget Office. And the Coalition has put in zero. Zero economic responsibility in this.

So finally, I just want to say we have run a great campaign around the country. And I want to thank all of you and people around the country who have stood up with the Greens through this election campaign, and in anticipation, all the people who are going to work with us on the booths and I know that there are going to be many out there this weekend. We are the strong alternative voice in Australian politics. We're the people who can be trusted to stand up for what matters, to care for people and care for the environment. So on September 7, vote 1 the Greens. Thank you.


Time now for questions from our media members. I think there's a reasonable number of Greens supporters in the room. We have a large number of questions to get through. I would pay appeal to our media members to try to restrict themselves to a single question and keep the questions reasonably short. The first one today from Laura Tingle.

LAURA TINGLE - You've talked in your speech about the Tweedledum-Tweedledee nature of the two major political parties today, and you've said that people are looking for the kind of vision that the Greens are offering. But the reality is the polls are showing that the swing is on towards Tony Abbott, who is against a lot of the things you stand for, and that there's been a big surge in votes for other parties like the Katter party, the Palmer party and also for the microparties. My question would be: to what extent are the Greens culpable for this trend and secondly, what is your take on the rise of the microparties and what they mean for the rise of the Senate post 2014?

SENATOR MILNE - Thanks Laura. First of all, I think the rise of the microparties and the increase in the number of ‘don't know' or alternative expressions of interest beyond the old parties just confirms what I said in my speech, that people aren't satisfied with the nature of the debate that's been on this election. They're sick of them. They want to get rid of it but they haven't actually explored what the alternatives are. As to culpability of the Greens of not getting the vision out there, well let me tell you, we have tried to get the vision out there, but this is where I agree with Kevin Rudd in terms of the Murdoch press. There has been a campaign being run from Day 1 which supports the world view that I talked about, that is about individual wealth, competition, trash the environment, get what you want and don't worry about the rest, and that has been out there. Social media is a bit different, though. When you go on-line you find there is quite a community conversation about a different perspective. So I'm hoping this weekend that people will look beyond the old parties and vote for the Greens. In terms of the Senate, there is a real risk that Tony Abbott could get effective control of the Senate with a fairly ragtag group of extreme right minor parties, and that would be a real issue for Australia, because the tendency and experience in the last with these extreme minor parties is that they will do a deal on a particular policy of self-interest for them in order to sell out the rest, and that is a big issue, and the Shooters is the case in point, but there have been others and that's a clear case where I would urge people to look at the policy platforms before they cast a vote, to make sure they understand exactly what it is those parties are standing for.

RON AGGS - ABC Vote Compass shows that electioneering in this campaign has polarised voters along party lines, regardless of the science of global warming. Haven't the parties who've demonised carbon pricing pushed to the background for political gain the more vital messages about why Australia needs to prepare against predicted catastrophic climate impacts? You covered in your speech that Tony Abbott will limit the Coalition's Direct Action policy commitment to 3.2 billion, even if that amount doesn't result in meeting their emissions reduction target for 2020. Under Direct Action, storing carbon in soils was originally meant to account for 60% of emissions reduction. The science says it's not going to happen. Now the Coalition has no proven alternative methods to fill that 60% void before they even get to 100. Like-minded scientists I talk to who agree with CSIRO's theoretical that tree planting might be a possible alternative also say the cost and impacts of agricultural production alone would make it practically impossible. Senator, do you believe that climate change is getting worse faster than we thought? And is the Coalition's Direct Action policy going to go anywhere near making a dent in it, both in terms of Australia's domestic economic survival needs and our international moral obligation?

SENATOR MILNE - Well, absolutely I believe that climate change is accelerating. The IPCC report is due in about three weeks. I'm expecting it to say there is an even higher level of confidence that global warming is being driven by human behaviour. I'm expecting it to say that we need to act faster and that of course will feed into the global negotiations and that's why I say that Tony Abbott is totally irresponsible when it comes to addressing global warming. Everybody knows that Direct Action is a joke. There was never going to be any possibility that 60% of a target could be achieved with soil carbon. Increasing soil carbon is a good thing to do but it is never going to be able to achieve the kinds of changes and level that is being suggested by the Coalition. If you're serious about protecting carbon in terms of forests, you are much better off protecting our old-growth forests and restoring degraded native vegetation and doing that fast and immediately. That is what you would do if you were going to do that. But the other thing is the Greens have said very strongly we don't support loss of agricultural land and water to coal and coal seam gas. Why would you start and expand fossil fuel industries at the end of the fossil fuel age? This is going to be the century of food security. Around the world people are going to struggle to be able to feed themselves and that's why other countries are now buying up agricultural land and water. That's why the Greens are saying we should not be selling any land and water to wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign governments. It's a bad idea. And we need to actually start looking after our land here and producing as much food as we can. There is not a single economist, not a single scientist, any peer reviewed paper that will say that Direct Action is going to do anything. It is a joke, it is a lie, in fact and that's why I've just said that Tony Abbott is a rear-vision thinker and it is lazy, it is weak, and it's dishonest. And what I think is going to happen, far from this talk about double dissolutions, what I think will happen, is that the business community is going to come out very fast after the election if there's an Abbott government to say, hang on, we can't go down this track, reveal before you repeal. And I think when he's asked to reveal exactly what these policies are, the wheels are going to fall off actually. I know that there are many conservative who is desperately want the Greens there in balance of power because they know how stupid this policy is sand they're relying on the Greens to stop the carbon price being repealed just as Nick Minchin came out and was confident that there would be amendments to paid parental leave in the Senate. I.e., the Greens will be there to fix up the mess that Tony Abbott is making.

ROGER HAUSMANN - In terms of the potential of the agenda of the Abbott government, where do you think the Greens might be closer to compromise with the Abbott agenda than Labor would be?

SENATOR MILNE - One of the ones I just cited for you was looking at agricultural land and water, the Foreign Investment Review Board responsibilities, the threshold at which they might examine any proposals to buy, so that whole frame, you would think, if you heard from the Nationals, that they were actually interested in fair trade, but let's see. We're prepared to negotiate to get fair trade as opposed to free trade, but let's see what Andrew Robb and some of the others in the Coalition think about that. Issues as I mentioned, paid parental leave, the banning of handguns is another example, there will be areas, because our job has always been to improve legislation. That's where we come from, if it is an improvement on where it was and gets us on the path to something better, then it's worth us working on it and getting that outcome and that's what we've always done and it's what we'll continue to do.

PAUL OSBORNE - You just mentioned the phrase reveal before you repeal. Just wanting to flesh that out a bit. What sort of things will the Greens be demanding of hypothetical Abbott government in regards to the carbon tax repeal legislation, I'm thinking about things like will you be seeking cost benefit analysis of it, or a Productivity Commission inquiry, some other form of Senate inquiry, will you be seeking legal advice, because it's potentially subject to challenge in the High Court. What sorts of practical things will you be doing to flesh that out that legislation?

SENATOR MILNE - None of the above when it comes to the clean energy package. It is there, as long as the Greens are in balance of power, it will not be repealed. Because as I said the International Energy Agency has described it as template legislation and it is, I'm really proud of it. I am appalled that Kevin Rudd has raided the biodiversity fund. That was a very bad move. I can tell new rural and regional Australia when I talk to communities out there, they're really pleased that the Greens got that money to help them engage in stewardship of the land and they resent the fact that that's been taken away. Others are really resentful of the fact that Kevin Rudd has abandoned the Clean Technology Fund as well because that was enabling things like Norco that dairy cooperative in New South Wales to get new refrigeration equipment, Fonterra in Tasmania got new more efficient vats, right around the country it's had fantastic outcomes and we're not going to see any of that go. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has already funded the Moree solar farm, the MacArthur wind farm, it's given money to local government to do efficiency, we won't be watching any of that go beccause it's all good. Where I meant reveal before you repeal is that before he got any, any ability to even talk about putting up something alternative he needs to have it modelled. Where is the modelling for DIrect Action? Where is the upgrading of Direct Action? It is a complete mystery to anyone and Greg Hunt changes the parameters around it all the time. Will there be penalties? Now it's moved to just an energy intensity scheme, not absolute emissions. I cannot imagine the embarrassment for Australia if we go off to the global carbon negotiations, the climate negotiations on the global treaty, and try to suggest that it would be a reasonable burden share in the global effort to reduce emissions for Australia to reduce our emissions by less than 5%. We would be laughed out of the room and that is exactly what I expect to happen and our colleagues here from the pacific would be thinking this is outrageous. The small island States, the poorer countries around the world would be just saying Australia, you are a disgrace, on top of the cruelty to refugees which is already undermining our reputation in terms of human rights and the Refugee Convention. So it's up to Tony Abbott to put some detail but he's not going to do it, just as he isn't with his costings. He has not costed anything and doesn't intend to. What sort of arrogance is that?

SARAH BLAKE - I'd ask you about I guess regrets that you might have. Do you think that the Greens did the right thing to side with the Coalition to block an ETS? Now you're facing the prospect of a conservative government which has vowed to wipe out a carbon price altogether, wouldn't it have been better to have a fully fledged price on carbon locked in years ago?

SENATOR MILNE - Well we've got a fully fledged price on carbon locked in right now. This question arises because Kevin Rudd has chosen to think the whole country went to sleep in the years when he wasn't Prime Minister. Well, let me inform him it didn't. The country moved on, actually. We had an arrangement with Prime Minister Gillard, and we delivered a carbon price and what's more we delivered an emissions trading scheme with a fixed price for the first three years, and Kevin Rudd also seems to have forgotten that his CPRS had a fixed price for one year as well. If he doesn't like carbon taxes then he shouldn't have had his own fixed price for 12 months. This is just political opportunism going on here. If we had had the CPRS in place now, the carbon price would be less than $1. Less than $1. There would be no mechanism for increasing the target. We would be stuck with a completely ineffectual scheme. Whereas what we have now is an 8% reduction in emissions an transformation going on around the country. I couldn't be happier with the decision that we made to say we want effective action on climate, not what was being put up then, which was a ceiling on action, not a foundation.

MICHELLE GRATTAN - There's been quite a lot of talk about mandates in the past day or so, and obviously you have and will have a mandate of your own in the Senate. But there is any limit to the use of your mandate? You speak speak as though perhaps there's not. Do you regard the Senate as absolutely equal to the House, and do you think that the Greens' arm twisting of Labor over the past three years has in fact produced some of the backlash we've seen against the Greens?

SENATOR MILNE - I'd just like to say what John Howard had to say about mandates in September 1987. He said "when people vote at an election they do not vote on only one issue. The mandate theory of politics from the point of view of proper analysis has always been absolutely phoney." It's one of the few occasions where I actually agree with John Howard. But to come back to Michelle's bigger question - the Greens will have a mandate on carbon pricing. It is the law. We will uphold the law and we won't see the law repealed when it comes to carbon pricing but we will work to improve legislation, whoever is in government and we'll work with all sides of politics to achieve that as we always have. In the Tasmanian context, who would have thought when I was in balance of power with a Liberal minority government in Tasmania, we secured gay law reform, gun law reform, the apology to the Stolen Generation and a vote for Australia to become a republic. So on that basis, let's see whether we can't deliver marriage equality in this period of government. As to the question about the backlash, because there has been shared power, I think the backlash is far more about the instability in the Labor Party, about the machinations of stabbing and leaking and so on that has gone on in the Labor Party. What is an interesting analysis that I don't think it is carbon pricing that is the issue. The issue became that that was linked to a Prime Minister who said one thing before an election and did something after the election. It was turned into an issue of credibility of the leadership and it could've been any policy position, it just happened to be the carbon policy position. So I think a lot of the backlash has been about instability in the Labor Party and some of it has been about a group of people in Australia who could never accept a woman as a leader. And they still can't accept as a woman as a leader and it's that now interesting to me now to see that now you've got two men leading the old parties, both married, both three children, that that demographic is more than happy that the choice Australians have is that choice. I say the choice Australians have is broader than that. They have got a strong woman in leadership and a great team with the Greens.

LAUREN WILSON - Can I take you to the advice that you released today from the Clerk of the Senate about the Clean Energy Finance Corporation? Isn't that advice rather arbitrary given the director of the chair of the board has herself said if a Coalition forms government the CEFC will welcome the opportunity to consult with responsible ministers in the context of the legislative framework prior to undertaking any further action and section 64 of the investment mandate of the board says that responsibility ministers can use regulations to direct the board about their investment mandate?

SENATOR MILNE - First I think the board of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has being a fantastic job, and Jillian Broadbent has been quite outstanding. It would be normal for the chair of a board to consult with the government of the day. That doesn't mean to say that they won't proceed to actually deliver on the mandate, the legislative mandate that they have, they're an independent statutory authority. The money will flow to them unless the legislation is repealed and they will then under their mandate have an opportunity to disperse it. Yes, there will be an opportunity for the government to discuss an investment mandate but it's not going to be as easy as Tony Abbott thinks to destroy the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because you've got an incredibly well qualified board in terms of financial responsibility and they will not abuse their own professionalism if you like, in order to deliver for Tony Abbott. I'm confident of that.

DANIEL HURST - I wanted to expand on something that Sarah asked you about earlier. You did say you don't have regrets about voting against the CPRS Rudd scheme in 2009-10. Would you at least concede there is a possibility a Labor opposition may wave through the changes to the carbon price? If that's the case, wouldn't that CPRS be a better outcome for environment than having none at all?

SENATOR MILNE - Well it's effectively none at all because there's no capacity, there would've been no capacity to increase it and the price would be so low that it's having no transformative effect at all. And I come back to an earlier question about the level of urgency. We are in a global climate emergency. We have no time to lose. All the scientists say that this is the critical decade that we have to reduce global emissions this decade or we are not going to make it in terms of getting anywhere near 2 degrees let alone less than 2 degrees. We have no time. That's why I'm saying the aim here is to roll out more investment with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, increase the level of the renewable energy target and go to the world saying we are prepared to increase the level of our emissions reduction fast. That is our obligation, so I don't make any regrets about that. As to what Labor might do in opposition, yes, that's why the Greens need to be there in numbers and in strength because I know that the community groups around country will be backing the Greens to take strong climate action and I know business around the country once they've secured what they want, which is some of them, but not all of them, some of them want an Abbott government, but my word they do not want to lost the emissions trading scheme, they will be working for that outcome and we need the Greens there in force to keep Labor honest and keep them on track, because frankly, in opposition, who knows who will lead them or what policy position they will take. But we will be there to basically drive them to hold the line on climate.

MALCOLM FARR - Could I also go back to an issue raised by my two colleagues, because you seem to be in the unique position of the Greens being the only party that hasn't made a mistake over the past six years which is a little difficult to accept. Can I go back to the first Rudd government - Isn't it a fact that if you had supported that initial ETS program and perhaps built on it, there wouldn't have been the instability to which you referred, Kevin Rudd will now be going for a third term, and there'd be no doubt about the political sanctity of a genuine policy on emissions.

SENATOR MILNE - I would argue my job is not to secure government for the Labor Party, my job is to get strong action on climate change and that is why I do what I can, with whomever I can, to make sure we get that outcome. In terms of Labor, let me tell you this: that Labor made a decision to negotiate only with the Coalition, because they wanted to brown down the scheme. They did not want to strengthen it. They browned it down considerably so that its effect as I said would have been a virtually irrelevant price that wouldn't have driven change. At no stage did Kevin Rudd talk to the Greens or negotiate with us at all, in that period, and after Copenhagen, the Greens went back to Labor while Kevin Rudd was still the Prime Minister with a compromise proposition that interestingly was a $23 price and a hybrid scheme not unlike what we now have. Labor refused to even consider it, because what we found out afterwards is a gang of four had decided to dump carbon pricing an instead pursue a super profits tax, so much for any commitment to addressing the greatest moral challenge of our time. So I would suggest that the only political party who have consistently and always dealt with climate change as a global emergency are the Greens.

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