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Leadership needed on climate and peak oil but Rudd and Nelson put up white flag

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition have declared themselves incapable of the kind of creative, courageous leadership needed to deal with our two biggest challenges, climate change and peak oil, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said today.

Senator Milne said, "Australians trying to get to work and school, confronted by soaring petrol and grocery prices, and horrified by the images of a dying Murray, must be tearing their hair out in frustration at the absolute failure of leadership and imagination from both the old parties.

"Australians know that we can deal with peak oil and climate change with transformative, bold leadership. They know that the benefits of doing so are tremendous. They are crying out for the leadership to take us there, but are getting tentative incrementalism and weak signals from the two old parties.

"Prime Minister Rudd's attempt this morning to shift the blame for high petrol prices onto oil-producers demonstrates again his complete failure to acknowledge the reality that dwindling global oil supplies cannot match increasing demand. Peak oil is with us, Mr Rudd.

"Meanwhile, Dr Nelson is busily telling anyone who will listen that the climate threat is exaggerated and that, even it were a problem, we should do nothing until some of the world's poorest people lead the way. Where is the fairness and leadership in that, Dr Nelson?

"The Australian people know that the only realistic and responsible way to avoid the massive impact of $8 petrol in the coming decade is to immediately pull out all stops to oil-proof Australia, tackling a major source of greenhouse emissions at the same time, by providing clean alternatives. Only when those alternatives are conveniently available will they be able to ditch their increasingly expensive cars and take the cheap, clean option.

"Intelligent and courageous leadership would see Australia follow Sweden's lead in aiming to be completely oil free by 2020, with a multi-billion dollar investment in mass transit, cycleways and renewably-powered electric vehicles not a shrug and a promise of liquefied coal, the worse possible option.

"Brendan Nelson's craven appeal to base populism on climate change and petrol is doomed to failure. Just as Neville Chamberlain was ditched in favour of Churchill's leadership when bipartisanship was vital to put the nation on a war-footing, so too Brendan Nelson has dealt himself into irrelevance.

"The 20th century thinking of Labor and Liberals has locked us into a diabolical mess. We will need new, creative, 21st century thinking to get ourselves out of it.

"The Senate Inquiry I instigated into Australia's Future Oil Supplies gave the old parties a heads-up about what was coming, but they took no notice. Greenpeace's targeting another coal fired power station in Queensland today has shown more leadership on energy than either our Government or Opposition. May the Government hear and heed Greenpeace on coal as it has on whaling and may it start to listen to the community's cry for courageous leadership in the face of a global emergency."

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