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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3372


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (12:21): The Abbott government are not just living in another century, they are living on another planet. They are living on a planet where, apparently, global warming does not exist. They are living on a planet where you can ignore what every scientist in the Climate Commission and elsewhere around this country is telling us, which is that if we are to protect the Australian way of life from the impacts of global warming, which will include more severe and more frequent droughts and bushfires, then we have got one or two decades at most to get this country to be a zero-pollution country—and that means running on renewable energy. That is a big task. It is a huge task to do in a short period of time, but it is a task that we have to do if we are to protect Australia and its way of life.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is one of the best initiatives of the last parliament. It was never on the table in any of the schemes that had been put forward to deal with global warming under previous parliaments, but it happened in the last parliament because we had a parliament where Greens, Labor, city Independents and country Independents were able to come together and ask: 'What can we do to advance Australian industry in the clean and renewable energy sector?' And the answer, in large part, was the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The idea that this is some unstudied, back-of-envelope development bears no examination because what I can tell the House is that when we developed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation we looked around the world at what else was going on and we took our lead from the Conservative government in the United Kingdom. The Conservative government in the United Kingdom has a Prime Minister who is not like our Prime Minister; he is a Prime Minister who says: 'When I see science I believe it, I don't say it's crap. I believe it when I see the science.' In the United Kingdom they had said, 'What can we do to support our local manufacturers and to ensure that we have world-leading renewable and clean technology?' and they set up the United Kingdom Green Investment Bank. It is successful. And that model, together with the rest of the world's best practice, is now operating here in Australia.

What we have in Australia is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that has spent only $500 million-odd of its own money and, from that, has leveraged over $2 billion worth of investment in clean and renewable energy around this country—and that is happening now. That means that this bill from the Abbott government is an anti-Western Australian bill and an anti-jobs bill, because right now in Western Australia the CEFC has proposals for projects with a total project investment value of more than $1 billion, with only $400 million of investment from the CEFC. There are projects in solar photovoltaics and in wind. Twenty-one per cent of that investment is happening in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector, with the rest of it in solar, wind and across the board in areas such as biofuels. This is happening right around the country. There are success stories of wind farms in Victoria and solar plants in New South Wales that are actually happening now, that are being built or in the pipeline to be built, because this corporation is using money wisely to leverage private sector investment.

It was because this piece of ideology from a government trapped in another century and on another planet is so wrong-headed that it was rejected by the Senate. It was not just Labor and the Greens saying that this was an important thing we achieved in the last parliament. There are actually conservative independents and people from across the political spectrum saying, 'Hang on, this Clean Energy Finance Corporation is actually working.'

Every speaker from the other side who has got up so far—and I bet there are going to be more—to talk about the carbon tax should be struck out of this debate because this bill is not about the carbon tax. This bill is about the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Whatever you think about putting a price on pollution, you have to look at the evidence and you have to say that putting money to supporting private sector investment in clean and renewable energy is a very good thing for this parliament to be doing. (Time expired)