Monthly archives: September 2019

Greenhouse airline levy urged

The report by the Australia Institute said airlines were a threat to climate because of the increasing amounts of greenhouse gas pollution generated by a growing travel market, Fairfax newspapers reported.

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The industry is growing so quickly it could account for half Australia's total emissions by 2050, said the report's authors, Andrew Macintosh and Christian Dowie.

Aircraft gases excluded

But because non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases generated by international travel are not included in the greenhouse gas inventory, airline pollution could wipe out the effects of cuts in emissions in other sectors, they said.

"We are going to have to fly a hell of a lot less and it is going to cost us more," Mr Macintosh said.

A task force of business leaders, including outgoing Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson, is expected to deliver recommendations on a trading system to the government next week.

But it is expected to exclude aviation from any pollution penalties.

Scale of problem

Mr Macintosh welcomed recent measures to cut aviation emissions such as improved fuel efficiency and air traffic control sequencing but said the government failed to understand the scale of the problem.

"In terms of where we need to go, the government hasn't done anything like near what needs to be done," he said.

In Australia, domestic and international air travel is expected to grow at 4.6 and 5.1 per cent respectively a year between 2005 and 2020, ensuring a doubling of passenger numbers in 15 years.

The authors calculated airlines currently contributed between three and five per cent of total emissions.

However, if they were allowed to continue polluting without penalty and Australia adopted a target of cutting emissions to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050, airlines could account for as much as 51 per cent of the total allowance.

"Irrespective of which policy instruments are implemented to curtail aviation emissions, Australians cannot expect to fly more than they currently do today," the report said.

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Howard: 'Not playing politics'

Mr Howard ruled out retiring before the election and says he has no regrets about his decision to contest a fifth term.

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But his words appeared to fall on deaf ears, with two former ministers publicly squabbling on the floor of parliament after question time today.

West Australian Liberals Judi Moylan and Wilson Tuckey ignored Mr Howard's pleas for unity on the difficult issue of AWB, with Ms Moylan accusing Mr Tuckey of defamation and Mr Tuckey sticking by his claim that she was defending corrupt behaviour by the wheat exporter.

Tuckey on the loose

It was Mr Tuckey's second offence of the day, after the outspoken backbencher earlier hinted that the Liberal party could dump Mr Howard before the election.

"Some people say you can't do things late, well Labor couldn't have done it any later than they did with Bob Hawke," Mr Tuckey told reporters.

"History tells us he not only won, he stayed there for a long time."

But Mr Howard ruled out handing over to heir apparent Treasurer Peter Costello before the election, expected to be held in October or November.

"I have no desire to do anything other than remain prime minister of my country and leader of my party for as long as the Australian people want that to be the case," Mr Howard told Sky News.

"Like any other leader of a democratic party in a democracy, I am at the disposal of the Australian people – whatever they decide will be right."

Mr Howard denied his warning to the party room was an attempt to play politics or send a signal that he was willing to hand over power to Mr Costello in the next term of government.

"I see no point in deluding myself or deluding my colleagues or giving a signal to the Australian people that I don't understand that they are at the moment contemplating a change of government," Mr Howard said.

Beazley's view

Former Labor leader Kim Beazley, whose ousting by new leader Kevin Rudd last December started the government's slide in the polls, said Mr Costello had missed his chance by not challenging for the leadership last year.

"He should have challenged, lost, spent five or six months recreating himself with speeches on the environment, on Iraq, on industrial relations," Mr Beazley told ABC radio.

"The party would be begging him now and he would have come in as a cleanskin.

"Frankly, simply changing John Howard now for Peter Costello is shifting deckchairs on the Titanic."

Mr Rudd played down Labor's chances, saying the party would have to defy history to regain office.

"If you're any student of Australian politics you'll know that on two occasions since the last world war, Labor has won government from opposition," he told reporters.

"We need to win 16 seats on this occasion. History's against us."

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Iraq kickbacks under scrutiny

That same committee questioned the Wheat Export Authority's independence from disgraced exporter AWB.

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Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Mick Keelty gave no indication as to when Iraq kickback charges, if any, could be laid.

"The task force has completed its scoping phase and moved into its initial investigation phase. A senior coordination group has been established which is consistent with Commissioner Cole's recommendation," he said.

"The task force is independent and communicates to government through a senior coordination group chaired by the secretary of the Attorney General's department."

The long-awaited report into the $290 million in bribes paid by AWB to the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was released on November 27 last year.

Commissioner Terence Cole recommended 11 former AWB executives and an oil businessman face possible criminal charges for allegedly deceiving the United Nations and Australian government over the scandal.

AWB influence

The Wheat Export Authority has denied it is being influenced by a group of farm lobbyists who are working together to create a new single desk for wheat marketing.

A Senate estimates committee has heard Labor senator Kerry O'Brien suggest the group, which consists of the Victorian Farmers Federation, AgForce, Western Australian Farmers Federation and NSW Farmers Association, is little more than a front for disgraced exporter AWB.

"Has the authority undertaken any investigation to determine the veracity of claims that a new alliance of state based grain groups … is actually organised by and a front for the AWB Limited?" Senator O'Brien asked.

"In other words AWB Limited is playing a manipulative role in the grain grower representation market."

Authority acting CEO Peter Woods refused to comment on whether the group was a front for AWB.

"It's not something we would need to comment on," Mr Woods told the committee.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday announced long-awaited changes to the way Australia exports wheat to the rest of the world.

The changes were sparked by the Cole commission of inquiry into $300 million in kickbacks paid by AWB to the regime of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mr Howard has given farmers a March 1, 2008 deadline to reach agreement on the nature of a new wheat export body based around a single desk.

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Downer backs missile shield

But he said it was unlikely "in the foreseeable future" Australian cities would be protected by the system.

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VIDEO: Downer in the US

Japan's Nikkei business daily newspaper reported this week that Australia, Japan and the US had agreed at a meeting in Tokyo last month on a joint research framework for a system.

Mr Downer, speaking today in California alongside US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Australia supported the concept of the missile defence system.

He noted North Korea was developing long range missiles.

Asked if it was realistic Australia would have missiles guarding its cities in the near future, Mr Downer replied he did not "think that's likely any time in the foreseeable future".

"We do support the concept of missile defence and we do work with our friends and allies on that issue," he said.

The pair answered questions from the media and invited guests at an event at LA's Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

"We have never made a secret of that."

Mr Downer said in years to come if there was a threat, Australia could deploy a missile defence system to protect itself.

"We are not likely to deploy such a system in Australia in the imaginable future, but I suppose way off who knows what strategic circumstances there could be," he said.

"There are not the strategic circumstances where we feel we would need it ourselves at this stage."

"Others, including the US, their need for it, is entirely understandable, and we are happy to work with them," he said.

"You have countries like North Korea developing long range missiles … and where you have other countries doing research and developing ballistic missile systems."

"I say, well sometimes they object to missile defence, but there is no need for missile defence if nobody has missiles that could be threatening."

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