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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6358


Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (19:08): The House has been debating the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Bill 2012, the Clean Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2012, the Clean Energy (Customs Tariff Amendment) Bill 2012 and the Clean Energy (Excise Tariff Legislation Amendment) Bill 2012. This is a very important package of legislation, and it continues to implement the Gillard government's historic reforms to build a clean energy future.

I thank all members for their contribution to the second reading debate on each of these bills and the associated legislation, although I should observe that some of the contributions really have been quite misleading and misrepresentative of the purposes of the legislation. One only has to consider the accusation of governments picking winners to recognise what nonsense has really been spoken by some of those on the other side of the House. In fact, the opposition has a policy called Direct Action, which is picking winners. What we are doing here with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Bill is establishing a corporation, vesting it with funds that will operate independent of government according to an investment mandate and make investments on a commercial basis. To suggest otherwise just completely misrepresents the legislation.

I would also like to thank members of the House Standing Committee on Economics, particularly the chair, the member for Parramatta, for the inquiry that has been conducted into the legislation which built on the extensive consultation that the expert review panel, chaired by Jillian Broadbent, a Reserve Bank of Australia board member, undertook from October last year to March this year.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a very important part of the government's clean energy future plan. It will encourage private investment and help overcome financial barriers that were clearly articulated in the review report that was chaired by Jillian Broadbent to commercialising and deploying cleaner energy technologies. The fact of the matter, as was identified in the review report, is that investment in clean energy technologies often faces a range of obstacles in attracting financing. I outlined those obstacles in my second reading speech.

The corporation will capitalise private finance into Australia's clean energy sector, renewable energy and low emissions technology using financial products and structures that address those financial barriers. They could include the provision of loans, loan guarantees or equity investments, but the corporation will operate on a commercial basis. The corporation, as I indicated earlier, will operate independently from government also, and it will focus on bringing private finance into the financing of renewable energy and low emissions technology investments. It is not expected to be the sole financier. In this way, it will build investor confidence in the clean energy sector.

It is also important to note just in summary that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the carbon price mechanism and the renewable energy target have all been designed to complement each other and, in order to facilitate the investments that need to be made in renewable energy, in low emissions technologies, in clean energy and in energy efficiency, to work together so that we achieve the goal of reducing our emissions, meeting our international obligations and achieving a 20 per cent renewable energy target by the year 2020 at lowest cost to the economy. These components of policy will work effectively together.

Finally, in relation to the Clean Energy Legislation Amendment Bill and the two other associated bills, it is important to note that the amendment bill will provide for something that the gaseous fuels industry has been asking for and consulting with the government for quite a period of time. It is something that came out of the inquiry into the clean energy bills last year—that is, to facilitate the opportunity for LPG, LNG and CNG to come underneath the carbon price mechanism rather than fuel excise arrangements. CNG, according to this bill and consequent upon its passage through parliament, will come under the carbon price mechanism from 1 July this year, and LPG and LNG will come under the carbon price mechanism from 1 July 2013. The amendments in the amendment bill and the associated bills principally deal with that issue.

With those remarks in summary, I commend the bills to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The question is that this bill be now read a second time. Just for the information of the House, there will be a series of one-minute divisions after this, so I suggest nobody gets up and runs away.