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Carbon pricing only after public consensus, Gillard says

| Sourced From Theaustralian |

JULIA Gillard will pursue a carbon price if she wins the next election, but only after a “community consensus” is established for action on climate change.

This qualification sparked concerns from green groups that the new Prime Minister’s words were “code for inaction”.

Ms Gillard, in her first press conference as Prime Minister, said she believed in climate change and expressed disappointment that Australia did not have a price on carbon.

“And in the future we need one. But first we will need to establish a community consensus for action,” Ms Gillard said.

The Prime Minister said she had been a participant in the decision to delay the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which contributed to Kevin Rudd’s plunge in the polls, and did not seek to diminish her role in making that decision.

“I came to that decision because I fundamentally believe that if you are going to restructure our economy so that we can deal with a carbon price and deal with all the transformations in our economy that requires, then you need community consensus to do so,” she said.

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Ms Gillard said there was not a community consensus about establishing a carbon price.

But she committed to “pursue that argument for change as vigorously as I can and as long as I need to, to see the establishment of that community consensus”.

Tony Abbott described the emissions trading scheme as a “tax” and Ms Gillard’s comments about “community consensus” as “Orwellian newspeak”.

“Now, I’ve said that if there is an international consensus, if a new way of doing things is to become part of the international trading system, of course we will respond intelligently,” the Opposition Leader said.

“She said in respect of an emissions trading scheme ‘delay is denial’ and yet she’s obviously now into the same delay as the former prime minister.”

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said Ms Gillard’s words could be code for either delay or action.

He said the government would need to put a detailed plan on how it would address climate change in its next term if it was to be taken seriously.

“We’ve seen lack of action cost two prime ministers and two opposition leaders their positions. I hope it is a lesson that is learned by the new Prime Minister,” Mr Connor said.

WWF Australia chief executive Greg Bourne said Ms Gillard should be given the benefit of the doubt. But he said recent polling showed up to 70 per cent of people supported an ETS which represented a “firm consensus” on taking action on climate change.

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