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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9495

Mr OAKESHOTT (9:18 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I rise once again to endorse the Renewable Energy Amendment (Feed-in-Tariff for Electricity) Bill 2009 and to advocate that this legislation be introduced by the Australian government, preferably sometime soon. Since last speaking on this, I have noticed an increasing level of engagement with this issue throughout the country, not only amongst householders, business and industry but also through various representative bodies. Greenpeace today launched a report which outlines that over 30,000 jobs could be lost in Australia unless the government introduces a feed-in tariff. Likewise, the Electrical Trades Union last week put around to all members of parliament a substantial report endorsing a feed-in tariff and noting the importance of such legislation.

I also note that now all the states at least have inquiries into the matter. Most states have put in place legislation of some sort. That is good in one sense, although what it does do is expose the role of the Commonwealth in producing the common wealth. We have the absurd situation now, which goes back to the old rail gauge debates of over 100 years ago, where we have a different system set up in every state and territory. We have a national electricity market—all the poles and wires are pretty well connected now—and retailers now operate in a national market selling products across state borders, yet we are locked into a system which for important legislation, such as feed-in tariff legislation, is state based. It is uncoordinated, it creates problems in border areas and in billing systems for the various utilities involved and it is a less than preferred outcome for the country. Only one location, Canberra, has looked at a gross feed-in system similar to what has been adopted in Germany. It has driven the German market hard, and now between 6 and 8 per cent of GDP comes from environmental technology.

In this month’s edition of National Geographic there is a story about a fella who lives next to the Black Forest. He had to wipe snow off his photovoltaic panels on the day the journalist interviewed him. He had had returned to him from the feed-in tariff system the equivalent of A$4,000. We should build a system that encourages Australians in their homes to engage in the provision of energy and reduction of their own energy costs so that they get a return for being involved. If we want to seriously address the energy needs of the future we cannot continue to rely on a future being cheap coal and we cannot rely on targets set through legislation over the last month but we can rely on very good examples that have been used around the world and are proven successes.

Once again I mention the German example. It has driven their renewable energy market significantly, it has engaged and it is delivering good outcomes with cheap electricity to the household. Not only for job reasons but also for economic reasons does the Commonwealth have an obligation under our constitution to unite and to bring together policy when the states fracture. Here is an example of that state fracturing. Let us not go back to the 20th century, where states all worked independently and separately and people were worse off because of it. I encourage government to look at this feed-in tariff legislation. I encourage government to look at the work that has been done by ETU and Greenpeace and I encourage them to adopt this legislation. (Time expired)

Mr Anthony Smith —I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.