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Australia's PM-elect gears to ratify Kyoto PDF Print E-mail

© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Nov 25 (IANS) Australia's prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd has begun preparations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and attend next month's climate change talks in Bali, leaving US President George W. Bush isolated in his battle against international action on climate change.

This is in marked contrast to outgoing premier John Howard, who sided with the US for 10 years in fighting the international process.

Meanwhile, congratulatory messages were flowing in for Rudd from various heads of state or government. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have congratulated him.

Rudd is organising visits to the US and Indonesia.

Yudhoyono has already phoned Rudd and formally invited him to the Bali meeting under the UN framework for negotiating a post-Kyoto climate change treaty.

Rudd said, "I responded positively, of course, to President Yudhoyono's invitation and said I looked forward very much to meeting him in Bali very soon."

Brown said ratifying Kyoto would mark a significant shift in Australia's attitude to tackling climate change.

Ratifying the protocol would require Australia to keep emissions at 108 percent of 1990 levels in the 2008-12 commitment period, a target the outgoing coalition government said it was on track to meet.

Rudd will go to Bali already committed to a target of cutting Australia's carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050. He has postponed setting short-term targets until receiving a report next year.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark conveyed congratulations to Rudd and said she looks forward to working closely with Rudd and his government on the many areas of mutual interest.

"Our many areas of cooperation with Australia include developing a single economic market, climate change, strengthening institutions in the South Pacific, improving international trade rules, and making the world a safer place through peacekeeping and promoting inter-faith dialogue," Clark said.

Rudd is only the second prime minister elected from the state of Queensland and it is only the third time Labor has won government from opposition since World War II.

While most election results were out by Saturday night, nine seats were still undecided, including Howard's electorate of Bennelong, in the 150-member House of Representatives. Labor is tipped to bag 90 seats.

The centre-left Labor Party is now ruling all nine governments at federal, state and territory levels for the first time in Australia's history.

The Labor caucus is due to meet in Canberra Thursday and the new ministers will be sworn in soon after.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party, recovering from the shock defeat, was further thrown into turmoil with outgoing Treasurer Peter Costello announcing that he would not stand for the Liberal leadership.

Costello had been widely expected to replace defeated Prime Minister Howard as Liberal leader.

Outgoing Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who won the Wentworth seat in Eastern Sydney, has announced that he will contest the leadership of the federal Liberal party at the next party meeting.

Long-serving outgoing Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said, "As we went past the 10-year mark last year... the public probably started to think then... 'these guys have been there for a very long time'.

"They thought Rudd was younger and attractive and Rudd is very articulate, he gets his messages out very clearly in my view, which is an important thing in politics. And I think they (voters) kind of made up their minds then, they might go for this guy," Downer added.

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