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Government vows to fight on after ETS defeat

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Climate Change

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As expected, the Senate has voted down the Rudd Government's contentious emissions trading legislation, in effect putting Australia's climate change strategy on the shelf for at least three months.

The ALP did not have the numbers to get its package of 11 bills setting up the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through the Senate. Just after 11am, the Senate voted the scheme down 42 votes to 30.

Climate Change minister Penny Wong vowed to press on with the scheme, saying it would be back in the Senate before the end of this year.

"This bill may be going down today, but this is not the end,'' a defiant Senator Wong said. "We will press forward; we will press on with this reform for as long as we have to. We will bring this bill back before the end of the year," she said.

The scheme, due to start in 2011, has been rejected by every non-Government senator but different agendas are at play.

The Opposition says the scheme should not be finalised before the Copenhagen talks in December.

Opposition Senate Leader Nick Minchin said the Bill should not be passed before then.

"The Government should now put this damaging bill in the deep-freeze and wait until after we see the outcome of the Copenhagen Conference and the US Senate debate on emissions trading before resurrecting its discredited legislation," he said.

Senator Minchin said the legislation should not be reintroduced until next year.

However, Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull is expected to produce a package of amendments when the package is put to another vote in November.

The negotiations around those yet-to-be-released amendments are absolutely critical. If the scheme is rejected again in November, it will provide the Government with a trigger for a double dissolution.

This might put pressure on the Opposition to compromise to avoid an early election, and what is expected to be another defeat.

However, the Rudd Government is now under pressure to get its deal through the Senate before Copenhagen. As a result, it might have to look carefully at the amendments.

The Greens have refused to back the scheme, saying the emissions target of a five per cent minimum was low and timid. Senator Steven Fielding also expressed concern about the scheme, telling the Senate of his concerns that humans were not the cause of global warming.

Turnbull has indicated he is willing to negotiate with the Government in the event of it reintroducing the bills.
His problem, however, is getting party room support.

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