SAVING the world doesn’t come cheap. Taxpayers forked out more than half a million dollars to send the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, his physician, several cabinet ministers plus one spouse, and senior staff to last year’s Bali talks on climate change in December.
While the talks fell short of global expectations by failing to set binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, they were nonetheless hailed by Mr Rudd as an important step along the road to a new international treaty to deal with climate change.
Australia made a lasting impression at the talks by telling key allies the new Government would end former prime minister John Howard’s long-held policy against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
Answers to questions on notice from Liberal senator Nick Minchin show the short trip to Bali cost taxpayers $530,687.22 — a bill that does not yet include the cost of special purpose air travel.
Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has named one of Australia’s most experienced negotiators as her special envoy. Howard Bamsey will play a key role in difficult negotiations with big greenhouse gas polluters such as the US, China, India and Japan.
Mr Bamsey will be directly answerable to the minister. He is expected to take a vital role in preparations for talks Mr Rudd and Senator Wong will hold on climate change in Japan.
Senator Wong also confirmed Howard government climate change negotiator Jan Adams as climate change ambassador.
Ms Adams led negotiations for the former government on climate change after Mr Howard decided to oppose Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.