Election threat greets pollies

NORTHERN Rivers Federal MPs Janelle Saffin and Justine Elliot return to Parliament today to find the national debate largely, if not quite, as they left it.

Parliament broke last year with the Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme in tatters and murmurs of a potential early double dissolution election after the Federal Opposition turned on the legislation and voted it down in the Senate.

Today the MPs return to the chamber with the scheme still being hotly debated – this time with an alternative Coalition carbon reduction policy also about to be put on the table – and increasing calls for an early poll.

The Government’s climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut, at the weekend said the Gov- ernment should use its double dissolution trigger and go to the polls as soon as possible so it could get its emissions trading scheme through.

Pundits yesterday were tipping an election some time between August and October – late enough to avoid clashing with the Victorian State election, but early enough to avoid running into the NSW State election.

Ms Saffin yesterday said she was ready for an election campaign, but did not expect a trip to the polls any time soon.

“I know local people want their governments to go their full term, that’s what they say and that’s what Kevin Rudd says. Prof Garnaut, bec- ause he prepared the climate change report to the Government and very carefully detailed the costs of climate change, would be anxious (about delaying the legislation),” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin said climate change remained a ‘critical issue’ for voters, alongside other issues such as health and the economy.

However, being ready for an election didn’t mean being in election mode.

“I’m in Parliamentary mode,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing and that’s what local people want. Australians want us to go full term.”

Asked about the importance of the emissions trading legislation to the nation and her Richmond electorate, Ms Elliot said ‘decisive action’ on climate change was needed.

“The Rudd Government remains absolutely committed to the environment and passing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to take action on climate change,” Ms Elliot said.

“That is what is in the national interest. That is what is in the local interest. That is the responsible action.”

As to the likely benefits of the Coalition’s new climate change policy, due to be announced today:

“(Opposition Leader) Tony Abbot has said climate change is absolute crap and he continues to say it’s crap,” Ms Saffin said.

“He also said a rise in temperature of four degrees would not be catastrophic. He says one thing one day and one the next.”

Mr Abbott has attacked Labor’s planned emissions trading scheme as a ‘tax on everything’ and has vowed his new policy would cut emissions without creating new taxes or increasing costs for consumers.

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