Greens warn Rudd against pandering to industry interests

By: Jason Whittaker

Greens leader Bob Brown says his party will amend climate change legislation in the Senate if the Rudd Government attempts

Greens leader Bob Brown says his party will amend climate change legislation in the Senate if the Rudd Government attempts to water it down due to pressure from industry lobby groups.

In an address to the National Press Club, Brown told attendees for too long governments have paid attention to influential fossil fuel lobbies when developing environmental policies.

He says the Government must resist pressure from polluting industries calling for compensation when emissions trading starts, which would rule out any assistance to the trucking sector.

According to Brown, any funds given to energy-intensive industries will mean less will be invested in critical research and development into renewable energy.

But because "the major polluters have kept the body politic caged and ineffective", Brown fears the Federal Government will take "tentative and ineffective" action to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The Greens want legislation that lowers 1990 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050 and takes decisive action to reduce current emission levels by 2015.

"If the Rudd Government falls short of these targets we will move to amend the legislation when it enters the Senate," Brown says.

The party will also be using its numbers to push for mandated renewable energy targets.

The Greens now hold five seats in the Senate. Labor will need the support of 39 of the 76 senators to pass legislation. Labor holds 32 seats, while the Coalition has 37.

The remaining two seats are held by Family First’s Steve Fielding and Independent Nick Xenophon.

During his speech, Brown criticised Treasurer Wayne Swan for devoting so much money to road projects, arguing not enough is going to public transport.

He also hit out over arguments by those wanting to keep petrol taxes low, saying they overshadow the importance of tackling climate change.

"The debate on petrol taxes, led by Brendan Nelson, indicates how a political appeal to popular self-interest can so easily overrun the much greater and more profound interest of Australia in tackling the long-term problem of global warming," Brown says.

According to Brown, the Greens party is the right one to lead Australia in the 21st century and it has a mandate from the Australian people to ensure climate change and emissions trading legislation has stringent measures in place to restrict carbon output.

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