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Monday, 7 September 2009
Page: 5779

Senator MILNE (6:22 PM) —That is really the nub of the debate. It is not about compliance costs, as Senator Johnston tried to imply. The government are going to have access to this anyway because they have to report, obviously, at each facility in order to get their aggregate emission levels. That information is going to be available; the question is whether it is made available publicly. The minister said the objection to making it public is that companies have argued it is commercial in confidence and, as she rightly said, it will give an indication of the relative efficiency of an operation.

I would argue that the community has a right to know the level of emissions coming from certain facilities and just how efficient or inefficient they are in order to make judgments about whether the generosity in compensation, free permits and so on, is justified. This is actually enabling corporations to hide their least efficient and most polluting facilities behind an aggregate figure rather than letting out the information that the public wants to know: exactly how much greenhouse gas is being emitted from certain point sources. However, it is a philosophical difference of opinion as to whether we should have facility level reporting or aggregate reporting. The Greens think that, in the interests of transparency and driving the transformative processes that we need in the economy, the community needs to have information about where the most greenhouse gas pollution is coming from.

I have moved the amendment. It is clear that it does not have the support of the coalition or the government, who would prefer corporations to be able to hide behind aggregate figures. I think that protecting some of the biggest polluters under those aggregate figures will slow down the transformation we need in the Australian economy.

Question negatived.