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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3602..


MR SPEAKER: You can, but it won't be.

Mr Smyth: Stop wasting his time Karin-discipline!

Ms MacDonald: He has not started the answer.

MR STANHOPE: There is a need for national leadership in relation to climate change. Unfortunately, that national leadership has not been shown by the commonwealth; that national leadership has been shown by the states and territories. That is at the heart of the current debate. That question was about a need for national leadership. It did not say "a need for commonwealth leadership"; it said "a need for national leadership"-leadership that this government is showing, but which the commonwealth government is not showing.

There is a crying need for national leadership on the issue of climate change. The people of Australia recognise that. I think the most recent and comprehensive survey undertaken of Australian attitudes to the need for national leadership on this issue was the Lowy institute poll or survey. It revealed that more than 70 per cent of Australians regard climate as the issue of most significance to them and an issue on which the current federal government has failed consistently, obdurately, deliberately and negligently to provide leadership.

It is there for all the world to see. It has hit the Prime Minister, John Howard, like a runaway bus. He has completely and totally miscalculated in his response or reaction to the need for him to show leadership on the issue of climate change-leadership that he now realises, nine years too late, is his greatest failing as Prime Minister, a failing matched only by the invasion of Iraq.

It is a failing of leadership that is now being repeatedly pointed to by other commentators, most particularly I think Al Gore, who recently described George Bush and John Howard-in relation to their attitude to climate change and Kyoto-as the "Bonny and Clyde"of international climate change thuggery. It was and has been mischievously and cruelly suggested to me that they are not so much "Bonny and Clyde"as "George and Mildred", with no prize for working out who is George and who is Mildred in that relationship.

We see those same comments in a very significant and powerful speech made just last night by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who opened a high-level segment of the UN climate change conference in Nairobi yesterday, when he pointedly-referring to the President of the United States, George Bush, and the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard-said that those who continue to label themselves as climate change sceptics or who were opposed to the Kyoto protocol were "out of step, out of arguments and out of time".

Is there a better epithet in a whole range of areas for John Howard and this commonwealth government than that delivered so cuttingly by Kofi Annan-cuttingly by politely. George Bush and John Howard, in relation to Kyoto and climate change, are out of step, out of arguments and out of time. We see it. We Australians would pay a very significant price for the fact that there has been no leadership.


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