Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 28 May 1997
Page: 3844

Senator BROWN(Midday) —The proposal is revenue neutral. It allows for a maximum grant which is 10 times the annual entitlement of the diesel fuel rebate for electricity generation. The minister is saying that the government is not going to get the tax on the diesel for electricity production in the country which is used as a disincentive. I am saying that it is estimated that the cost of this would be $85 million per annum, and that there is a cap on the amount that can go into this scheme. If there were a flood of applicants for this scheme there would be a cap which makes it revenue neutral and when that amount of money has been disbursed then other applicants would have to wait for the next year of the scheme. That is exactly the matter that the government itself can look at and determine over the coming months.

I again put it to the committee that the scheme is not only workable but is an important boost to energy alternative businesses in Australia in a burgeoning world market. It is going to be a boost to small business in the bush. It gives an option for farmers, in particular, who are strapped for cash at the moment to move into energy renewables, which in the long term are going to be far cheaper. On estimates I have, a farm with a moderate sized home and machinery could be supplied with a two-kilowatt system, attracting a grant of about $7,500. Over a 10-year period a farmer converting to photovoltaics would be $5,000 better off than staying with diesel. A site that was economic for wind power could be $18,000 better off.

It is such an attractive option. I would like to see, if there is not immediate support for this option now, that we at least put the onus on the government to come back to the Senate and point out where the problems are. I do not think they are there. I have given that assurance to the committee as I see it. I would like to see this supported. I am happy to make that amendment. I put it to the opposition that the onus should now be on the government, if it feels negative about this sun fund, to come back to us and say why, to come back and explain why we should not take this option up rather than to effectively shelve it outside this opportunity here and now to make it work.