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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1653

Employment


Mr HUSIC (ChifleyGovernment Whip) (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation. What is the government doing to support jobs and to promote clean technology in Australian industry? Why is this important for the economy, and are there any threats to this support?


Mr COMBET (Charlton—Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation) (14:26): I thank the member for Chifley for his question and the interest he always shows in these issues.

As I have stated before, this is a Labor government, and jobs and economic growth are top priorities for this government. Of course, that is why we welcome—as the Prime Minister has indicated—today's latest labour market figures showing 46,000 new jobs created in January. It is very good news, and we of course welcome it. But we understand, of course, that some companies are facing challenges in the current environment, and the government is managing the economy to assist in meeting those challenges.

Part of that task, of course, is to promote cleaner technologies in industry to support jobs by promoting productivity, innovation and clean technologies, because that will support jobs. Today I launched the government's new Clean Technology Investment Programs. These will provide $1 billion to manufacturers to help them in the purchasing of new plant and equipment which will cut energy costs and reduce carbon pollution. Already, around 3,000 manufacturing businesses have expressed interest in the programs. Cutting energy costs, improving emissions intensity, innovation and cleaner technologies being applied in the workplace will all promote competitiveness and support jobs in those workplaces. And, of course, the announcement of these programs has been welcomed today by the Australian Industry Group.

Today, we have also finalised the regulations for the government's Jobs and Competitiveness Program under the clean energy package. This program will provide more than $8 billion in assistance over the next three years to businesses in emissions-intensive industries that face competition internationally as we go about the task of reducing emissions in our economy. Under this program free carbon permits are allocated according to an industry average and according to historical emissions baselines. The importance of that is that because the permits are allocated against an industry average and those baselines, the fact of the matter is that firms that invest in efficiency measures will not only improve their productivity they may well receive more than 100 per cent of their carbon liability in free permits. That is an extremely important aspect of this program because, in other words, in providing that it provides a direct financial incentive for new investment that will support jobs, productivity and competitiveness in those industries.

On that side, they want to tear all this down. On this side, we are building an economy for the future and putting in place the foundation stones for future jobs growth, and that is a key priority that they oppose.

An opposition member: Inspirational!

Mr COMBET: Thank you.