Minister for Climate Change and Water
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Leader of the Opposition
PO Box 6022 House of Representatives Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Turnbull,

With just four Parliamentary sitting weeks remaining in 2009, I am writing to you in relation to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation.

The CPRS delivers on the national interest by putting in place a market mechanism that will reduce Australia’s emissions for the first time ever and build the low pollution economy of the future. As such, the Government believes the CPRS should be passed in full and we will re-present the same legislative package as was considered in August.

In developing the CPRS, the Government has undertaken a rigorous consultation and policy making process. As you would be aware, the Green Paper was released in July 2008; the Treasury Modelling was released in October 2008; the White Paper in December 2008; exposure draft legislation in March 2009 and the final legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives in the Budget sittings.

Given the complexity and structural significance of the CPRS and your personal experience in working on the previous Government’s emissions trading scheme, I am sure you will agree that the national interest would be best served by the Opposition presenting any amendments approved by your party room to the Government as soon as possible.

As I have made clear on many occasions, the Government is willing to consider any amendment put forward by the Opposition that has the support of your party room. On that basis, it is the Government’s view that for Opposition amendments to be properly considered in good faith, they should be passed by your party room in the October sittings and presented to the Government immediately thereafter.

I note media reports today which indicate the Opposition will take amendments to the party room on 19 October. Presentation of these approved Opposition party room amendments immediately following this meeting will allow the Government to consider these amendments in detail before Parliament resumes in November.

If Opposition amendments are not made available in October, the Government’s capacity to consider these amendments seriously and with appropriate prudence would be significantly constrained.

The Government remains willing to engage in discussions in good faith and with a clear focus on the national interest. It is difficult to see how the Opposition could enter into a good faith negotiation with the Government if the timeframe outlined in this letter is not met.

There are now approximately four weeks until Parliament resumes for the October sitting period. The legislation has been available in its final form for more than three months and the policy process has been underway for over 18 months. I would therefore expect the four weeks between now and 19 October to be ample time for the Opposition to finalise amendments.

Given the importance of this legislation to Australia’s future, I trust you will endeavour to present party room approved amendments to the Government in October.

Yours sincerely

Penny Wong

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