From: Michael Perry, Reuters
Published October 13, 2009 05:59 AM

Climate no longer top policy issue with Australians

Australian voters no longer see the environment as the top policy issue, but the government remained committed Tuesday to an emissions trading scheme which, if defeated in November, could see a snap election.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept to power on his promise to tackle climate change in 2007, but a new opinion poll on Tuesday found that saving jobs was now the top priority for Australians and fighting climate change had fallen to seventh.


"Climate change continues to drop as a priority for Australians," said the fifth annual "Australia and the World" poll by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy.

"In 2007, Australians ranked tackling climate change as the equal most important foreign policy goal. This year it ranked seventh out of 10 possible goals, down 10 points since last year and 19 points since 2007."

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong dismissed the poll and said the government would press ahead with its emissions trading scheme (ETS). "Our policy is not determined by polls," she told radio, adding the government would act in the national interest.

The legislation has already been rejected once by the Senate and if defeated again would give Rudd, who has a commanding lead in opinion polls, a trigger for a snap election.

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