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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8007

Mr ZAPPIA (5:20 PM) —I speak in support of the renewable energy target legislation package. It is important legislation, and that is certainly one thing I agree with the member for Paterson on. But I do not agree with his comments in respect of the solar panel rebate and the management of that scheme by this government because, under this government, during 12 months in office, some 80,000 panels were to be installed around Australia. Contrast that with some 10,000, as we heard earlier on in question time today, that were subsidised during the 12 years of the previous Howard government.

These bills, the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and the cognate bill, form part of the Rudd government’s response to climate change. Let us make no mistake at all about it: this legislation is as much about climate change as is the CPRS legislation that was blocked by the coalition members last week, because the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions underpins this legislation. The objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is driven by the belief that rising greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to global warming and to climate change. The overwhelming body of peer-reviewed scientific opinion subscribes to the view that greenhouse gases are a major contributor to global warming. The overwhelming body of scientific opinion on climate change and the devastating consequences for humanity simply cannot be ignored. We have a responsibility to the people of today’s generation and an even more onerous responsibility to future generations, who have no voice whatsoever in decisions made today.

Raising the nation’s renewable energy target to 20 per cent by 2020 is an important step in the Rudd government’s climate change strategy for several reasons: firstly, it results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; secondly, it provides targets and certainty for both industry generally and electricity generators particularly; and, thirdly, it provides confidence to those industries investing in renewable energy technologies. Of course, this legislation also underpins the establishment of renewable energy certificates, which are central to the continuation of householder rebates for the installation of solar energy panels.

There is a mistaken view, held by some members opposite, that any policy measure that seeks to reduce carbon emissions will have a negative impact on jobs and economic activity. Treasury modelling has shown that this policy will in fact create jobs, and that modelling has been supported by separate independent modelling by many organisations time and time again. Further evidence of the economic benefits of renewable energy can be seen in some of the stimulus packages put in place by governments around the world in response to the global economic crisis. Investment in renewable energy plays a significant role in these packages. I want to make reference to and quote some of those packages.

According to analysis by HSBC published in the Financial Times, in South Korea 81 per cent of the total of its government’s stimulus package is being spent on renewable energy projects—that is, US$36 billion of investment, which it is anticipated will create some 950,000 green jobs. In China 38 per cent of the total stimulus is being spent on renewable energy, which is in the vicinity of US$220 billion. In the United States 12 per cent of President Obama’s stimulus package is being spent on renewable energy—over $50 billion in combined investment from the two stimulus packages; and this is expected to create 2.5 million green jobs.

Also worth noting is the number of other nations who, like Australia, have made investments in household energy efficiency a priority for their stimulus packages. Programs similar to the Australian government’s energy efficient insulation plan are part of stimulus packages in Germany, Britain and Canada. Polling published in today’s Age shows that 55 per cent of Australians support the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and do not think we should take the path of the opposition’s latest delaying tactic of waiting until the Copenhagen meeting in December.

The Financial Times analysis of the Rudd government’s program said:

Australia has only recently begun to engage seriously with climate change … Canberra ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2007 and now plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.

This international analysis by HSBC and the Financial Times reaffirms what we and the Australian people already know: that, after 12 years of inaction by the previous Howard government, Australia finally has a Prime Minister and a government determined to address the issue of climate change and ensure Australia becomes a low-carbon economy. These bills take a significant step along the path of lowering Australia’s carbon emissions. I commend the bills to the House.