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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 30


Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (10:36 AM) —Well said, Senator Allison, and, before that, Senator Milne. The motion here is to get information so that the parliament can be informed about feed-in laws, which are working very effectively overseas, particularly in Germany. Senator Ronaldson fled the chamber after his contribution. You have to feel sorry for him; no-one on the government benches has the foggiest idea what this is about. When you get ignorance of that sort, very often it feeds upon itself. Instead of government members trying to find out what feed-in laws are about and how they can improve the energy configuration, stimulate the economy and stimulate small business in particular, their ignorance compounds itself. I would have thought that, when the allocation of the response to this motion from Senator Milne was considered by the government, they could have selected somebody who would at least be able to string together sentences which meant something and were positive. Instead of that, we had a senator in real trouble, totally ignorant of the issues, whose best contribution, perhaps, was to flee the chamber as soon as he could, straight after he had sat down.

I first moved to get feed-in laws in Tasmania back in the 1980s, I think, and you, Senator Milne, would have followed after that. They do work well; they are an important stimulus, particularly to renewable energy. The stories in Germany of the people who gained advantage from these feed-in laws and helped that country reduce its greenhouse gas emissions enormously are legion. It is just a pity that the government not only does not understand this but is determined to remain in ignorance. This is not a motion that says we should bring in these laws—although it should be; we should be way past that and they should be part of the Australian economy by now. It is a motion to enlighten the Senate about the advantages and the problems, if any, of introducing renewable energy feed-in tariffs in Australia.

Senator Milne is to be congratulated for having brought the motion forward. The depth of the government’s ignorance and hostility towards the options available in a climate change challenged world is despairing. We are facing enormous problems, with multitrillion-dollar damage to the global economy and multibillion-dollar damage to the Australian economy. The problems from climate change will flow on to all families in coming decades in Australia, and here we have the government saying, ‘No, we won’t look at options that are working overseas in order to help this country tackle the problem of climate change.’ It is just studied ignorance.