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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17241

Mr GAVAN O'CONNOR (7:07 PM) —I rise to speak on the Product Stewardship (Oil) Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2003 now before the House. I will preface my comments on the bill with the statement that the government just simply lacks an energy policy. I was in the Main Committee last week when certain appropriation bills were being debated in this area of energy policy. The shadow minister for resources, the member for Hunter, commented that the government does not have an energy policy. I had risen to speak in the debate on the appropriation bills related to allocations in the regional services portfolio—I note the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Mr Tuckey, is at the desk today—and I made the point that the Transport and Regional Services portfolio did not have a policy either. Of course we had a rather animated discussion at the time on the lack of the bushfire policy that the government had promised. It did not end there, because I also made the point that the government did not have a tourism policy either. The government, regrettably, is a bit of a policy free zone when it comes to these matters. The member for Hunter, who preceded me in those debates, quite cleverly pointed out to the House that the government certainly had not developed a national energy policy and that that is quite regrettable.

The legislation we are debating here tonight imposes a levy on certain petroleum based oils and greases and their synthetic equivalents to fund the development of a recycling program for waste oil—the product stewardship arrangements for waste oil, which is termed the PSO. The intention of the stewardship arrangements is to reduce the environmental impacts of waste oil by imposing a levy on virgin oils and lubricants. The levy is used to fund a benefit scheme designed to encourage the recycling of waste oils. Benefits are paid on a six-tier differential scale with differing benefit rates for various waste oil recycling activities.

I am not an old petrolhead by any stretch of the imagination though I do claim, in my younger days, to have changed the motor over on a Ford Anglia. In my youth Ford cars were something that we all aspired to own. Now I am the member for Corio I have a Ford plant in my electorate. But as I recall, in those days—and I must plead guilty before the House and before you, Madam Deputy Speaker—when I was changing that motor over, we simply poured the waste oil out onto the ground. I think that was the way in the 1960s and 1970s; there was no real thought given to the recycling of this product, nor was there to other waste products or other materials from the automotive sector. For example, batteries were basically thrown into the tip and oil was either thrown into the tip or poured onto the ground. Not only was it a waste of a precious resource but it also caused some environmental damage. We have come a long way since those days and are now more conscious of our environment; we certainly seek to recycle waste products, and oils are a very important part of that recycling effort.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 to provide an effective exemption for certain multiuse oils and uses of multiuse oils from the product stewardship oil levy. The bill is also designed to introduce a mechanism which will allow the Minister for the Environment and Heritage to approve the use of certain oils as eligible for the category 8 benefit. The third purpose of the bill is to implement consequential amendments to the Product Grants and Benefits Administration Act to enable those category 8 claimants to register for the PSO benefits. We regard this legislation as non-controversial. We believe that it is a measure that can be supported by the opposition.

Mr Billson —Hear, hear!

Mr GAVAN O'CONNOR —I am glad that the honourable member for—I have quite forgotten what seat you are representing there—

Mr Billson —We will leave that as a silent vote of support.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Gambaro)—He is the member for Dunkley.

Mr GAVAN O'CONNOR —I recall the member for Dunkley starring in a football match where the press and the Victorian MPs played the Allies. He only played one game and he never bothered to come back. We look forward to your next appearance, honourable member for Dunkley. I think this is a measure that you could support, even though you are in the government and you are proposing the bill. Even you could support this measure because they tell me that you are on the small `l' liberal side of the fence in the government, vying for a spot in the reshuffle. So we look forward to the speech you are going to make on this legislation. Indeed, this could establish your credentials as an up-and-comer on the wet side of the conservative ranks. We wish you well in that. We will be supporting this bill. It is an interesting piece of legislation that I think is deserving of support on all sides of the House.