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Australia Snubs UN Climate Talks As Minister Stays Home To Repeal Carbon Tax

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Ben Packham, The Australian

Australia will be represented by a diplomat rather than a senior minister at international climate talks in Poland next week aimed at securing an agreement to cut global carbon emissions.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt won’t attend annual United Nations climate change talks in Warsaw, saying he’ll be busy repealing the carbon tax in the first fortnight of parliament.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will also not attend. Neither her parliamentary secretary Brett Mason nor Mr Hunt’s deputy, Simon Birmingham, have been delegated to attend.

Instead, Australia will be represented by Australia’s Climate Change Ambassador Justin Lee, who is based in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Hunt said through a spokesman that he would be “fully engaged in repealing the carbon tax” while the conference was underway.

The Environment Minister, who’d been expected to attend the talks, yesterday cancelled scheduled briefings on the Warsaw talks with business representatives, lobby groups and foreign diplomats.

Asked about the decision, Mr Hunt’s spokesman said the talks were a foreign affairs issue.

Australia’s stance at the upcoming meeting was due to be considered by federal cabinet on Monday.

Lobby groups said other nations were anxious to see what role Australia would play in global climate change negotiations under a Coalition government.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Mr Hunt said Australian delegates to the UN climate summit in Poland will seek a “deep, strong international agreement”.

“The first part of the delegation leaves today for Warsaw and I think there’ll be plenty of engagement with business and community over the coming weeks,” he also told ABC radio.

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