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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8009


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:20): I thank Senator Sarah Hanson-Young for her question. I am aware that Minister Ferguson has met representatives of the particular group in question. As I understand it, it is an area that Minister Ferguson has lead responsibility for. But I am happy to take it on notice and correct that if necessary. In terms of the Mr Combet's portfolio, the Australian government are firmly committed to a clean energy future for Australia.

We have increased the renewable energy target to 20 per cent by 2020 and have committed $17 billion in funding support for clean energy initiatives. This includes the new $10 billion for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $3.2 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, ARENA. Most importantly, the Australian government have introduced a carbon price in the economy to achieve our long-term goal of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Combined, these initiatives will provide unparalleled support. The Australian government continue in the direction of meeting the renewable energy target. It is important to recognise that this is why the government initiated the Solar Flagships program in 2009 and created the—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! This discussion at the front of the chamber is disorderly. Senator Hanson-Young is entitled to hear the answer of Senator Ludwig.

Senator LUDWIG: The Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister Ferguson, announced on 9 June 2012 that AGL Energy has been offered approximately $130 million for a 159-megawatt photovoltaic power plant across two sites near Broken Hill and Nyngan in New South Wales, which are suspected to be operational from 2015. The minister was also referred to other Solar Flagships project proposals in ARENA, but I will take that on notice to ensure that Mr Ferguson and Mr Combet can add any additional information. (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! It is not fair to Senator Hanson-Young, who asked the question, that those in the front part of the chamber are continually at conversation across the chamber during the time when Senator Ludwig was answering the question. I remind senators that it is disorderly, and they should refrain from talking to each other across the chamber. If you wish to talk, go outside.





Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:23): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question to the minister. I thank the minister for the first answer. A recent vote showed that 99 per cent of the Port Augusta community joined their local council, the current plant's employees union and several national community groups, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, in their support for concentrated solar thermal—and for good reason. Is the minister aware of the high rate of lung cancer in Port Augusta—twice that of the rest of South Australia?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:24): I thank Senator Sarah Hanson-Young for her continued interest in this area. It is an area, as I understand it, that falls more directly in Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson's portfolio, but I will seek to achieve additional information in answer to a question from Minister Combet, where the question has been directed.

From Minister Martin Ferguson's area, they have committed a significant area through ARENA, which in addition is funding other large-scale solar projects including the $34 million to the 44-megawatt Solar Boost Project at Kogan Creek. The idea is that we are delivering on lowering our carbon emissions. We are looking at alternatives to increase our power consumption through these types of projects that Minister Ferguson has been working on. AGL Energy has been offered $130 million for the 159-megawatt photovoltaic power plant against two new sites—that is the type of work that we are— (Time expired)


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (14:25): Mr President, I ask a second supplementary question. I understand that the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has made several references to Minister Ferguson, and I take that on board. However, my question was to the minister in his role representing the minister for climate change. Has the minister for climate change made any representation to the Port Augusta community and the South Australian government about what support the Commonwealth will offer to help facilitate this essential environmental, economic and social reform?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:25): It is fair to say that out of both Mr Ferguson's portfolio and Mr Combet's portfolio there are significant committed funds to assist communities. I do not want to go through and describe each one of those. I can ask both ministers to provide an update of what types of funds are available to assist communities in that area—

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator Hanson-Young: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I appreciate that Minister Ludwig is trying to answer my question but I cannot hear the answer.

The PRESIDENT: Order! On both sides, as I pointed out, there needs to be quiet.

Senator LUDWIG: What I indicated was that I would take that on notice. As I understand it there is a range of programs that may be available out of either Minister Combet's or Minister Ferguson's portfolio. I think it fair, given the available time, to provide an answer on notice to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young because the community has asked, through Senator Hanson-Young, to gain that additional information. I will also seek an answer from Minister Combet as to whether or not he has engaged with the community. (Time expired)