|Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 6 February, 2007
Pollies all torque on environment
By Alison Rehn
As politicians from both sides increasingly talk about climate change as being one of the biggest global issues, The Daily Telegraph yesterday photographed a queue of Comcars waiting to take MPs to their temporary homes.
When in Canberra for sitting weeks most out-of-towners stay close to Parliament House, in particular in the upmarket and trendy suburbs of Kingston, Griffith, Forrest and Deakin.
But instead of walking to work, using some of the country's best cycling routes or taking the bus, most politicians hitch a ride in the taxpayer-funded Comcars – one to a car.
Pedestrian Council of Australia head Harold Scruby slammed the perk as "disgraceful".
"Comcars should be the first thing politicians get rid of," he said.
"It's disgraceful. Get them to walk. They should follow the prime minister's very good example and walk more."
For security reasons John Howard is driven to work from The Lodge, just 500m from Parliament House.
Labor Leader Kevin Rudd is also driven around in a Comcar.
New Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who lives about 2km from Parliament House, also gets a Comcar to work.
But a spokeswoman for the Wentworth MP is quick to point out that he sets a terrific public transport example in Sydney, and has refused the private vehicle made available to him in his own electorate.
"In Canberra, Malcolm mostly uses Comcars to get from his flat to Parliament House, but sometimes drives himself in his own car," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"In Sydney he rarely drives in his own electorate, not least because it is so hard to park, and when he is not walking takes public transport or a taxi."
Ninety-five per cent of the Comcar fleet uses ethanol-blended petrol.
Mr Turnbull's counterpart Peter Garrett, who lives in Canberra's "inner-city" – within 3km of Parliament House – also takes advantage of a Comcar when he's in town.
But his spokeswoman said he sometimes drove his Falcon station-wagon – fitted with an LPG tank – instead.
Mr Howard yesterday warmed further to carbon trading in Australia, as long as businesses are protected but ruled out a carbon tax.
"It's important that we develop an approach to carbon pricing that is acceptable to and sympathetic to the interests of Australian industry," he said.
"There is a very significant difference between a crude carbon tax system and developing in a measured, co-operative way a carbon pricing system."