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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 11556


Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, upon notice, on 20 March 2003:

(1) Has Dr Robin Batterham communicated with the Government in any capacity regarding funding or allocation of money or benefits to the Rio Tinto Foundation for a Sustainable Minerals Industry: if so:

(a) can details be provided including date, nature and content of the communication; and

(b) can a copy of any written communications be provided.

(2) In the past 5 years, has Dr Batterham communicated with the Government in any capacity regarding carbon sequestration, clean coal or related energy matters; if so:

(a) can details be provided including date, nature and content of the communication; and

(b) can a copy of any written communications be provided.

(3) (a) What is Dr Batterham's role on the Advisory Board of the Rio Tinto Foundation;

(b) does he represent the Government as Chief Scientist or Rio Tinto as Chief Technologist.

(4) Has Dr Batterham reported to or advised the Government on any matters relating to the Rio Tinto Foundation; if so:

(a) can details be provided including date, nature and content of the communication; and

(b) can a copy of any written communications be provided.


Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Dr Batterham has not communicated directly with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources or myself in relation to funding or allocation of money or benefits to the Rio Tinto Foundation for a Sustainable Minerals Industry. Indirectly, Dr Batterham is a member of the Rio Tinto Foundation Advisory Board on which the Commonwealth has a representative, Mr John Ryan, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, to represent its interests. Any advice on the Board's activities to the Government would be provided by the Commonwealth representative.

(a) Not applicable.

(b) Not applicable.

(2) (a) and (b) The Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources has conducted a search for communications from Dr Batterham to myself, the former Minister for Industry, Science and Resources and the Department. The following communications dealt with, among other matters, carbon sequestration, clean coal or related energy matters:

Date

Subject

Copy

13/3/02

HIsmelt Presentation

Previously provided: Senate Hansard 5/2/03 p 8587

5/2/03

US Sequestration Initiative

Attached

In addition, I chaired a Ministerial Council on Energy meeting on 29/11/02 at which the Chief Scientist presented the case for a national emissions-free electricity programme.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP

Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

The Department of Education, Science and Training has passed me a copy, dated 23 December 2002, of the Aide Memoire and background material concerning the US sequestration initiative.

I believe it is a splendid initiative that warrants close attention by the Australian Government.

Sequestration is not yet held to be commonplace. It is not unknown nor all that difficult, it simply has not been used on a large scale to demonstrate its realistic costs and operating characteristics other than in a limited number of cases.

I applaud US efforts to bring in the hydrogen economy. Those efforts require that hydrogen to be produced cost effectively will likely involve fossil fuels as source material.

Halving emissions requires us to do much more than wait for renewables or for the relatively small reductions that are associated with greater use of natural gas. Rather it requires the adoption of an approach of renewables plus a swing to gas and a swing to zero emission coal usage.

The zero emission area requires sequestration to be demonstrated in many areas of the world. US leadership here should therefore be applauded and supported.

I commend the initiative and suggest it would be to Australia's advantage to accept the US invitation to join and hence leverage Australian technology, both present and under development, to strengthen existing levels of collaboration.

I have copied this letter to our colleague, the Hon Dr David Kemp MP, Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

Yours sincerely

Robin Batterham

Cc: The Dr David Kemp NIP

Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

(3) (a) Dr Batterham is a member of the Rio Tinto Foundation Advisory Board.

(b) Dr Batterham was nominated by Rio Tinto to serve on the Advisory Board. The Commonwealth member on the Advisory Board represents Commonwealth interests.

(4) Dr Batterham has not reported to or advised me or the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources in relation to the Rio Tinto Foundation. As indicated above in response to (1), the Commonwealth has a member on the Advisory Board, who would provide any advice on the Board's activities to the Government.

(a) Not applicable.

(b) Not applicable.