Australian minister defends Labor's climate change policy

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Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong on Sunday defended Labor's climate change policy saying that it creates a clear path for the introduction of a carbon price.

Labor has been under attack from green groups for backing away from a commitment to establish an emissions trading scheme by 2011.

Instead it has delayed its introduction until at least 2013 and even then Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it would need a community consensus.

"I think it gives us a clear path (on a carbon price) and she's made it very clear she wants this to be something that is not subject to the swings and roundabouts inside the Liberal party room," Senator Wong told the Ten Network on Sunday.

"What we are saying is we want to put a limit on pollution with a market mechanism," she said.

Senator Wong was reminded of comments that she made in December about a carbon price.

"If you are serious about tackling climate change you have to put forward policies which place a price on carbon which makes polluters pay," she said.

Wong blamed the coalition and the Australian Greens for the government's failure to have the Senate approve its emissions trading scheme.

She also defended Labor's promise to pay 2000 dollars (1800 U.S. dollars) to car owners who trade-in their pre-1995 cars for more fuel-efficient models, a policy announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Saturday, which has been compared to the "cash for clunkers" stimulus program in the U.S.

Senator Wong said the Labor rebate was different.

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