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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6414


Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) (11:04 AM) —I hope your blood pressure is all right, Bruce. I will take your fashion advice, but I do not want to turn red like that!


Mr Billson —I feel passionately about this.


Mr COMBET —I feel passionate too, mate. I will clear up a couple of things. The member for Goldstein did make the observation earlier that investment will cease in many of the sectors of the economy affected by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. That is of course a completely fallacious assertion. It reminded me of a decision announced in the New South Wales budget yesterday to invest a further $205 million in the Eraring power station, which happens to be in my electorate, to expand its generation capacity. That is obviously an investment decision taken in full knowledge of a carbon price and of the detail of the CPRS, including the Electricity Sector Adjustment Scheme assistance that the federal government is providing under the CPRS. We have given a lot of attention to ensuring there is a continuing strong investment environment that will support jobs growth in these sectors of the economy.

I indicate to the member for Dunkley the sorts of concerns that are raised with me by members of my own political party. They advert to the issue that the coalition is frustrating the passage of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.


Mrs Hull —So they haven’t raised the job losses in their areas!


Mr COMBET —I am telling you about the concerns that are raised. You say you are passionate; we are passionate about the passage of this legislation and addressing carbon pollution reduction. It would be useful, if one is passionate about climate change, to make positive, constructive contributions to ensure the passage of this legislation.

The member for Dunkley also raised a specific issue concerning waste landfill and methane gas emissions. This fell in the delegations that the Minister for Climate Change and Water afforded to me when I took on a parliamentary secretary role in this area. The single greatest concern in that sector of the economy with local government and private landfill managers was the application of the CPRS to legacy waste emissions, something that was addressed. I went and visited many local governments and spoke with all of the landfill sector. Legacy waste emissions are now removed from the scope of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Upon the announcement of that initiative, as the member for Dunkley might be pleased to hear, the landfill owners and operators association issued, along with the Australian Local Government Association, press releases supporting the government’s initiatives and the application of the CPRS to their sector.

On the issue of individual action, the government has taken a number of steps to enable households, individuals, small businesses and community organisations to participate in the scheme—correctly, as identified by the member for Dunkley—in part through the pledge fund. But the government is also investing significant funds to support households in introducing energy efficiency measures, the most obvious example being the installation of insulation. I think that is an almost $4 billion initiative in total, but many other initiatives totalling billions of dollars have been indicated through the budget and other announcements and have been funded and are generally represented through my colleague the minister for environment’s portfolio area.

We are committed to developing a national carbon offsets scheme to operate in our domestic economy and we will be bringing forth a policy position on that in due course. The government is acting on a very wide range of fronts to improve energy efficiency at the household, business, community organisation and commercial property sector levels. We are investing, as is demonstrated through this budget, a significant amount of funding in areas such as support for solar research, the solar energy initiative, the clean energy initiative and a host of other things. These include, very importantly, in relation to the electricity generating sector and the coal industry, a very significant amount of funding to support the investigation, research, development and, hopefully, commercialisation on a large scale of carbon capture and storage, as that is so important to the future of the coal industry.