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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11859

Carbon Pricing

Mr WINDSOR (New England) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Minister, you would be aware of concerns that have been expressed in the past in relation to the meat processing sector and the local government landfill sector. Could you outline the assistance that could be available to the meat processing sector and the local government landfill sector from the revenue streams available under the clean energy bills? What scenarios exist for these sectors to reduce their emissions below the 25,000 tonne CO2 equivalent level?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:27): I thank the member for New England for his question. He has had a strong interest in this issue throughout the negotiations in the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. The government is well aware of the issues raised by meat processors and landfill operators and particularly by local governments with landfill that are associated with the introduction of carbon pricing.

Recently in Melbourne I met with the Australian Meat Industry Council to discuss the meat processing sector in particular and the opportunities that do exist under the programs that the government has announced with the clean energy package. My department as well has also visited a number of sites, a number of abattoirs, including a visit to Bindaree Beef in Inverell and is going to be making a presentation to a meat industry workshop next week on these issues, so the department and the government are very well engaged.

Many meat processors have already investigated opportunities to become more energy efficient with the approaching carbon price and also to reduce emissions from their settlement ponds. There are opportunities to capture methane, in particular from the settlement ponds, to generate electricity that would then reduce the need to buy electricity off the grid and also provide the opportunity for those operators to create renewable energy certificates. Some meat processors will be able to take sufficient actions, in fact, we anticipate, to fall below the 25,000 tonne emissions threshold that the member for New England adverted to. In addition, the meat processors will be able to benefit from the $150 million that will be available under the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program which is co-contribution grant funding for food processors to reduce their emissions to improve their energy efficiency. So there are a number of opportunities in that sector to deal with this issue. In relation to local government landfills there are a number of similar issues that I could point to. In particular, one of the amendments that the government moved to the legislation two days ago in the House, and which was carried by the House, dealt with this issue and indeed means that many small landfill operators, particularly local governments, will not be liable under the carbon price mechanism certainly over the first three years of the scheme. That is something that has been welcomed by the Local Government Association.

Landfills will also be able to meet up to 100 per cent of their liability during the first three years of the scheme from credits created under the Carbon Farming Initiative—another thing that has been welcomed in recent days. In fact, the government estimates that the carbon farming credits created by landfill operators for their legacy methane will actually exceed their liability under the carbon price for their landfill emissions probably until the year 2020 and beyond. So there are some very good opportunities for local governments in the landfill area.

Yesterday, the president of the Local Government Association issued a press release welcoming all of these initiatives and had this to say:

ALGA welcomes the outcomes of the parliamentary process and the introduction of a market-based approach to carbon pricing. The amended legislation addresses local government's concerns about the impact of a carbon price on small landfills, many of which are owned by councils.

Finally, could I just say how important the contributions of ALGA, local governments and, in particular, the members on the cross benches—particularly, the member for New England—have been in bringing about this outcome.