THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
11 March 2011
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH GRANT GOLDMAN – 2SM SYDNEY RADIO
SUBJECT: CARBON PRICE POLICY, GARNAUT UPDATE 5
GRANT GOLDMAN. Professor Ross Garnaut has released the fifth update of his 2008 report
on climate change. His paper on climate science also interprets divisions in public opinion on
carbon pricing. Since his last review some scientists have questioned whether moves to limit
increases to two degrees Celsius by 2050 will actually be enough to avert a serious
environmental catastrophe, arguing such a rise will cross in to the extremely dangerous
zone. Now Professor Garnaut has defended existing United Nations targets but hinted that
Australian Government policies on pricing carbon may have to be bolstered as climate
science advances. Before we get on to the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark
Dreyfus...he’s on the line. Good morning Mark.
MARK DREYFUS. Morning Grant.
GRANT GOLDMAN. He’s changed his mind. In other words what he’s said before was wrong.
MARK DREYFUS. He said it’s even more serious than what he thought it was when he wrote
his report in 2008.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Could it be because they’re losing the argument now and they need to
scare us even more?
MARK DREYFUS. Not at all. If there is anyone that is interested in this topic at all I urge them
to get online and read Professor Garnaut’s latest update. He makes it very clear that the
need to tackle climate change is stronger than ever and that the longer we delay the
problem, the greater the environmental costs.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Do you accept you’re losing the debate?
MARK DREYFUS. I don’t accept that at all. I think there’s very widespread support in
Australia for taking action on climate change.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Well Julia Gillard keeps saying that by why is it that on this very program
and other programs and also in the press people are continually saying well, it’s a scam? It’s
all about money?
MARK DREYFUS. I think that’s what you get when you get a scare campaign mounted by
one side of politics
GRANT GOLDMAN. Well there’s a scare campaign being mounted by Ross Garnaut in many
MARK DREYFUS. Well indeed not. What he’s reporting on in his report and the update on
his 2008 report is the state of accepted mainstream science, which is the way he puts it.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Well there are other scientists who will argue against that as well?
MARK DREYFUS. They’re not mainstream scientists.
GRANT GOLDMAN. They’re not paid by governments in other words?
MARK DREYFUS. No, it’s not about being paid by governments.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Yes it is. Yes it is. You’ve got to toe the company line if you’re going to
represent global warming through government, then you’re being paid, you’ve got to toe
the company line and say exactly what they want.
MARK DREYFUS. I don’t think science works like that. There are thousands of scientists out
there Grant. Just like all of your listeners accept the science of refrigerators, cars and all of
the things about modern life, I don’t see why we should not accept the science on this one
absolutely vital area.
It’s a very peculiar approach that’s being taken and it’s because it’s been politicised by
extremists like Senator Nick Minchin who’s a Liberal Senator who came out overnight saying
he doesn’t believe climate change is happening. Now what he’s saying there is that he
doesn’t accept modern science.
He doesn’t accept the science of technology. He doesn’t accept what’s there in refereed
journals across the world.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Can you understand the angst of people when they continually hear
stories with Julia Gillard saying in her speech in Washington that ten US states have taken
up the price on carbon but what she neglected to mention was that nine of them have
cancelled it and the only one still with it is California on the brink of bankruptcy?
MARK DREYFUS. Well you can put that last little rider on it Grant but California’s an
economy bigger than Australia’s. They’ve had in various forms controls on carbon pollution
and a price on carbon for many years and they’re moving to an emissions trading scheme.
The bankruptcy as you put it has got nothing to do with them having an emissions trading
scheme and I think what’s more important is the whole of western Europe, that’s 500
million people in more than 30 countries have had an emissions trading scheme since 2005.
GRANT GOLDMAN. In various forms?
MARK DREYFUS. Well it’s the same scheme. It’s a uniform scheme across...
GRANT GOLDMAN. No its not. It’s not a uniform scheme at all. The one in India’s completely
different. There are some people, believe it or not that say that India doesn’t have anything
well they do, but its insignificant, almost not worth having.
MARK DREYFUS. The example I’ve given to you was Western Europe, Grant. I didn’t say
anything about India.
GRANT GOLDMAN Are we concerned about all of the world or just Europe?
MARK DREYFUS. No, we started talking there about emissions trading schemes and we are
of course concerned about all of the world because this is a global problem and that’s why
the world has been engaged in these climate change talks since 1992 and that’s what led to
the Kyoto protocol which Australia has now ratified. It’s a world problem, recognised as a
world problem by all of the countries of the world. That’s why we’re going to keep on
working on it and Australia should keep participating in that effort.
GRANT GOLDMAN Why should we talk about carbon pricing when it’s really co2, carbon
MARK DREYFUS. I think you mean carbon dioxide.
GRANT GOLDMAN Carbon dioxide yeah. Why do we keep calling it carbon pricing when its
MARK DREYFUS. I think probably Grant because it’s a bit of a mouthful and people
understand what you’re talking about when you say carbon pollution and I don’t think
getting bogged down on whether it should be carbon dioxide pollution or carbon pollution
matters much. We know what we’re talking about which is...
GRANT GOLDMAN. But is carbon dioxide generally regarded as pollution? Isn’t it important
MARK DREYFUS. The reason why its pollution Grant is that there is a higher percentage of
these trace gases, which are other greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide in the world’s
atmosphere than there was before industrialisation commenced. It’s leading to dangerous
climate change. So just as with a whole lot of other elements in our life that at certain
proportions are not pollution or not poison, over a certain percentage and we’ve now got
over that percentage and its increasing, carbon dioxide is rightly regarded as pollution.
I’ll give you the example of arsenic. Arsenic in minute traces is found in lots and lots of
substances that we come in to contact with. It’s found in lots of earth for example but
provided it stays below minute proportions it doesn’t do you any harm but over a certain
proportion it certainly does and that’s where we’ve got to with carbon dioxide in the
GRANT GOLDMAN Well talking about carbon pricing and the real fear is that people will be
hit in the pocket and as you know it’s the big companies who’ll be paying but you don’t have
to be a scientist to know those pricings will be passed on to the consumer - you and me?
MARK DREYFUS. The target here as you rightly said there Grant is industries which pollute
and not households and as we’ve made clear the revenue that’s going to be raised through
this carbon price is going to be given as generous assistance to every household in Australia
that needs help.
GRANT GOLDMAN That sounds like a dogs breakfast, like some people get it some people
MARK DREYFUS. Not at all, it’s a price tag on pollution which is intended to give an
incentive to industries to change to low carbon processes so that we can move the
Australian economy, we hope the whole world, to the low carbon future that many
countries have already gone to.
GRANT GOLDMAN Ok so at what stage do you think we’ll go ahead with - I think we will go
ahead with it by the way - it seems like it’s set in stone. When will this all go ahead?
MARK DREYFUS. We’ve said that the carbon price mechanism, which is an emissions trading
scheme first with a fixed price that’s going to start on the first of July 2012. We’ve got a fair
way to go before then Grant because we’re a minority government and we need to
negotiate with the independents like Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor in the House of
Representatives as well as negotiating with Senators in order to get a majority of votes in
GRANT GOLDMAN Isn’t it sad you’ve got a Government that’s got to deal with a couple of
errant independents and also the Greens. It really doesn’t make it a complete government
in many ways.
MARK DREYFUS. It’s the Parliament that the Australian people elected Grant and I’m very
proud to work in a democracy and I’m very proud to work with the parliamentarians the
Australian people have given me to work with.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Interesting times ahead you’ll have to say?
MARK DREYFUS Indeed Grant.
GRANT GOLDMAN. Thanks for your time this morning.