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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3345


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (10:20): I rise to oppose this gag motion. This is a perfect example of why, when a bill has been rejected by the Senate, the appropriate course for this House is to look at the reasons the Senate has rejected it. What would be seen if you looked at it in any depth is that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is actually working. On any rational assessment you would see—even if you believe that so-called direct action was the only way to go—that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is an organisation that is worth keeping. What came out during the course of the debates in the Senate was that by investing $536 million the CEFC has leveraged more than $1½ billion worth of additional investment. In other words, $500 million of public money has generated $2 billion of investment in clean and renewable energy. These are jobs and projects that are happening now. We have the Macarthur Wind Farm, we have Taralga Wind Farm, and we have various other solar projects happening, many of which are in Western Australia. And we have wind farms being developed in Portland. There are jobs that hang on this investment continuing.

What is also clear from the Senate vote, and it is another reason we should not rush this through, is that regardless of how one thinks about the so-called carbon tax there is actually broad support across the political spectrum for keeping the CEFC. Conservative, Independent or other-party's senators actually voted at the end of last year to keep the CEFC. So the approach that should be taken is to go back to the drawing board and say, 'Perhaps we got it wrong on this. Perhaps this is actually an instance where co-investment of public money is driving the changes in the renewable energy sector that people have been calling on for a while now.'

The gag is completely inappropriate. It is part of a worrying pattern that is developing with this government. It seems in Tony Abbott's parliament you have the right to be a bigot but not the right to scrutinise legislation. Yesterday there were 10,000 regulations being debated, with a gag motion that meant we had 1.7 seconds per regulation to debate it. The gag motion yesterday meant that no members of the crossbench were able to contribute to the debate. I suspect it is going to be exactly the same today. If this gag motion is passed, and we finish the debate at 12 o'clock, we are talking about getting rid of billions of dollars worth of investment with less than a couple of hours to debate it.

If this government is committed to freedom of speech, and it is committed to transparency, and believes its policies will actually withstand some scrutiny, then they should not gag debate. They should allow a full debate on why the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is good for Western Australia, is good for Australia, is good for jobs, and is good for the planet.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the motion be agreed to.