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Monday, 19 October 2009
Page: 10181

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (8:43 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

When I presented my private member’s bill entitled Geothermal and other Renewable Energy (Emerging Technologies) Amendment Bill 2009 and explanatory memorandum, I did so because in moving amendments to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009, which had been dealt with earlier, the amendments which I included in my bill had been rejected by the government as amendments to that bill. The two amendments relate to the fact that we believe that there should be room left for particularly geothermal, wind and wave power to get access to the 20 per cent target for renewable energy sources and not be crowded out by wind power in particular.

With regard to the second amendment, that related to allowing relief to be given to food processing activities so that the additional costs, which would hurt farmers and the income of farmers, would be covered in the same way that costs in aluminium and other industries are covered. In this context, it is very important to realise that in Australia our baseload power comes from black coal and brown coal. In fact, 75.6 per cent of all electricity production in Australia comes from coal, 54.5 per cent black coal and 21.1 per cent brown coal. After that, there is 15 per cent from gas, 1.8 per cent from oil and 7.6 per cent from renewables. That is targeted to rise to 20 per cent.

We also should remember that the original Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 was coupled with the ETS establishing bill, the bill that imposes the cap and trade scheme and indeed imposes a new ETS tax, a broad based consumption tax that will be in addition to the GST and which will tax everything. In the much heralded negotiations on the government’s bill establishing the ETS—I think to call carbon a pollutant is a misnomer, so I will not do it—it is important to realise that the imposition of this new tax is really going to hurt people. If the government’s current bill went through in its present form the imposition on Australia’s economy would be untenable. The impact on jobs, the cost of living and the standard of living would be such that the people would really start to hurt. This debate is only now being embraced.

It is very important that we realise that in the negotiations that are taking place we are also seeking to have 94.5 per cent relief from the ETS tax for the food processing industry. So it is perfectly consistent that I should be moving the second reading of this bill, as it will give relief from the renewable energy target to the food processing industry as well to protect farmers from the adverse consequences of the renewable energy target. The second part of the bill makes sure that access is possible for newly emerging technologies.

In the very short minute that I have left, it is perhaps important to put on the record some of the terms that are being bandied about and just what they mean. A paper has been prepared in the Parliamentary Library by the science, technology, environment and resource section which has nuggets of gold in it which are very important to us. The extraction of energy from coal by burning only releases about 30 per cent of the coal’s intrinsic chemical energy. It would thus appear that there is the potential to develop more effective ways of generating power from coal, which would then reduce the amount of it that you had to use in order to produce the same amount of energy. The paper gives a very good definition of what baseload is and the continuity that is needed in order for us to run the sort of society that we have. I commend my bill to the House and I hope that we are able to have a vote upon it.