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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 4847

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (13:56): I appreciate the minister's answer. I appreciate the minister says that it is not the intention of the government to disadvantage plants such as these, which have made a tremendous contribution in CO2 abatement by being early adopters. We know what the Prime Minister has previously said about early adopters generally on the whole issue of greenhouse gases, and I agree with the Prime Minister: if you are an early adopter, you ought to be rewarded. But what we have with this legislation is a situation where early adopters are in fact being punished, to the extent that their businesses might not be viable. To say that this is going to be resolved by regulation is, I believe, completely unsatisfactory. There needs to be a solution to this. It needs to be a solution that is enshrined in legislation rather than left to regulation. If it is left to regulation, it will just compound the uncertainty. We have the whole issue of disallowable instruments, which is quite a proper process, but dealing with this in the absence of a specific legislative framework, a specific legislative baseline, is completely unsatisfactory.

It is important to acknowledge the work of LMS and others who have done this. LMS has previously acknowledged in its material that five per cent is not a realistic baseline. Some of the abatement stems from GGAS projects which could have occurred to control odour and for occupational health and safety reasons. A 10 per cent standard­ised baseline for GGAS landfill gas projects would be realistic, as it would account for common practice legislatively required abatement activities. However, there is a need to be conservative when estimating standardised baselines; therefore, a 20 per cent national baseline for all GGAS landfill gas projects to transition into the CFI is fair and justifiable. It is a conservative approach. It is an appropriate approach. There is no windfall at all. In fact, they are 'taking a haircut', to use a colloquialism, in relation to this. This 20 per cent baseline would only apply to existing GGAS landfill projects. As mentioned previously, GHF projects already have a proven baseline of zero. Any new CFI landfill gas projects should need to satisfy a new standardised baseline. This will ensure the integrity of both the GGAS baseline and the new projects baseline. That is why it is important that the negotiations continue.

I would like to acknowledge again the work of Senator Milne in facilitating that very crucial meeting between the department and LMS, where I think there was some real progress made. Let that progress continue, let it continue quickly and let us ensure that there is a satisfactory outcome, where the outcome can be dealt with in the context of this bill. Do not leave it to chance and uncertainty with regulations. It is simply too important for this early adopter of these measures.

Progress reported.