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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6573

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (1:44 PM) —I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

Firstly I thank the opposition for ensuring the opportunity to deal with the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2010 at this point in time. I indicate to the House that the government proposes that all amendments agreed to by the Senate be agreed to here. I will briefly explain the implications of what the government proposes in this respect.

The Senate has returned to the House the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2010 with a series of amendments, as we have heard. The government moved a number of those amendments in the Senate and will obviously be accepting them in this place. The government amendments firstly provide a contingent arrangement whereby the large-scale renewable energy target annual targets can be adjusted should the stock of renewable energy certificates, which are known as RECs, exceed 20 million as at 31 December 2010 net of the February 2011 surrender amount and voluntarily surrendered RECs. Secondly, the amendments strengthen the process for review of the $40 price for RECs in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to ensure the price remains appropriate over time. Finally, the amendments provide flexibility to deal with changes in the cost of solar panels by enabling the Renewable Energy Regulator to adjust the solar credits multiplier to ensure that it remains well targeted. I indicate to members opposite that these amendments were all agreed to in the Senate when they were debated there and I trust that assists in the consideration of the issues by the opposition in this place.

A number of amendments were also moved by the opposition in the Senate, along with amendments by the Australian Greens and Senator Xenophon. I will indicate now that, in order to ensure the swift passage of this bill, the government will also be accepting these amendments in the House. These amendments include the following provisions: to exclude air sourced heat pumps of over 425 litres capacity from the ability to create renewable energy certificates; to allow for exemptions in respect of emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities for the costs associated with the first 9,500 gigawatt hours of the RET where the price of the renewable energy certificates exceeds $40, which I think was an amendment moved in the Senate by the opposition; to provide a definition of air sourced heat pumps and require the Renewable Energy Regulator to specify on the register of small-scale technology certificates whether each certificate was created for a solar water heater, air sourced heat pump or small generation unit; to enable the minister to prescribe by legislative instrument that an emerging renewable energy technology is to be included in the Renewable Energy Target Scheme; to provide for a review of the scheme every two years, commencing from 30 June 2012; to establish a scheme to inspect small generation unit installations for compliance with Australian standards and other requirements relevant to the creation of RECs; to allow for regulations to be made to specify what multiplier applies under the solar credits regime for systems up to three kilowatts in size up to the level specified in the act; and to increase the capacity limit for which the solar credits multiplier applies in relation to off-grid small generation units up to 20 kilowatts subject to an annual cap on the total number of certificates. That is a concise summation of the amendments that were carried in the Senate. For the assistance of the member for Flinders, the shadow minister who has carriage of this issue in the House on this occasion, they include all of the amendments that were carried by the Senate.

In conclusion, the bill before us today will support the deployment of both major renewable energy projects and household-scale renewable energy systems. The renewable energy target is a key measure in Australia’s climate change policy and these changes will deliver significant and timely sets of enhancements that will put the Australian economy firmly on the pathway to a low-carbon future. The enhanced renewable energy target will drive significant investment, accelerating the deployment of a broad range of renewable energy technologies like wind, solar and geothermal. These changes are designed to ensure that 20 per cent of our electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources by 2020. On behalf of the government I would like to thank leaders and members of the parties in the House and the Senate for their cooperation to secure passage of this important bill in anticipation of that occurring. I think the numbers, when one considers them, speak for themselves. This is a scheme that will help unlock more than $19 billion of investment in the clean energy sector and help create thousands of new clean energy jobs. Its passage reminds us that it is both possible and in our national interest to take strong, long-term and bipartisan action on climate change. I commend the amendments to the House.