(Leon Byner: Simon, yesterday your boss announced a remedy to reduce CO2 emissions but it’s received a degree of criticism. In a nutshell, what does Mr Abbott’s and your Opposition policy do?)  Good morning, Leon and listeners. Yesterday, Tony Abbott released what is a very clear alternative to the Government’s emissions trading scheme and the alternative is to establish an Emissions Reduction Fund. This is a way of incentivising or encouraging businesses, farmers, groups within the community to reduce emissions, to abate carbon in the atmosphere and to provide direct incentives that will actually ensure we can meet our emissions reduction target as currently set at five per cent reduction by 2020. (Byner:  Okay, now, this fund… who puts money into it… because it’s important here because with the Government scheme, it’s going to be a tax, really – that’s what it’s going to be. So what is your fund going to be?) You’re spot on there, Leon, in that the Government’s is a big tax… it’s a big tax that takes in 114 billion dollars between now and 2020, churns it around through lots of bureaucrats and within government, and spits out billions and billions of dollars, most of it going back of course to polluters indeed… (Byner: My question is, how much is your fund going to be worth and where’s the money coming from?) Absolutely, Leon, this fund, over the period of the budget forward estimates… well our total policy is 3.2 billion dollars, which includes some incentives for solar cells… (Byner: Over what period of time?) Up til 2014-15 – that’s the period of time of the budget forward estimates. The Government’s ETS over the same period of time will cost 40.6 billion dollars, so there’s a vast difference in terms of the cost for us – 3.2 versus 40.6 over that period of time… (Byner: Okay, well…) We are saying we’ll fund that from within the budget. As you know, John Howard ran a balanced budget… managed to balance the budget… (Byner: Yeah, but Simon, you’re not going to be… if you get into Government at the next election you won’t have a balanced budget and you probably won’t have one for a while, so you’re going to have to borrow to fund this, aren’t you?)  Well, Leon, of course the Rudd Government has plunged the country into debt, you’re dead right there. We are going to have a hard task to bring the budget back into balance, but we believe that we can do this… this is a relatively modest commitment by the scale of the types of thing that Kevin Rudd… (Byner: When it’s modest, does that mean that the expectations or… if the game is to reduce CO2, how effective can this 3 billion dollars be over some years?) Well we’re quite confident it will be effective, because we have… (Byner: Why?)  … because we have gone out and consulted with industry groups, with farming groups and others… the target is to reduce by some 140 million tonnes the CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere by 2020. We have commitments from industry groups, businesses and others far in excess of that 140 million tonnes that says it can be done with incentives within this budget… and the big difference is that 100 per cent of the money that we’ll be spending under the Coalition’s plan will go into carbon abatement, will actually be targeted and will clearly go towards reducing emissions, whereas the Government… (Byner: None of this money will go offshore, right?) None of this money will go offshore, Leon, this is another key difference between our plan and the Government, so if you look at a couple of key differences – ours is about directly providing benefits to the environment in Australia… win-win benefits by increasing farmers’ productivity through soil abatement and so on… (Byner: What about those industries… one of the great problems, the biggest issue here is… those coal-fired energy sources which burn the fossil fuels that create the CO2 issue, right? Now, what are you going to do to encourage those coal burners to go into other forms of energy which are more environmentally friendly?)  Leon, we have had discussions with the coal-fired power stations and Greg Hunt, the Shadow Minister for Climate Action, yesterday revealed that in those discussions at least one of the major operators of one of the largest, highest emitting plants has indicated that incentives in the order of 13 dollars per tonne would probably be enough to encourage them to close down and potentially to shift to gas, which as we know in South Australia is an important energy source and a far cleaner energy source than coal, so that’s well within the budget range of the types of things we’re talking about… (Byner: Are you paying people to pollute, or are you actually asking money of them if they do pollute?) The Rudd Government’s ETS is a pay-to-pollute scheme because you simply buy permits to pollute. We will actually be paying people to reduce their pollution – that’s a marked difference between the two schemes, Leon. An ETS – pay to pollute… you buy licences to emit carbon, to emit emissions into the atmosphere, and you keep going once you’ve got your licence. Under this scheme, we know how much needs to be abated, we will target it – 100 per cent of our funds will go towards that abatement, whereas in the Government, 95 per cent of what they’re doing is taxing emissions and only five per cent is their reduction target. (Byner: Alright, Simon, thanks for joining us.)