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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3376


Mr IRONS (Swan) (12:37): I rise to speak on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013 [No. 2] consideration in detail stage. The government is reintroducing this legislation in an identical form to the bill that was first introduced to the House of Representatives on 13 November 2013 and rejected by the Senate on 10 December 2013. The bill repeals the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012, the CEFC Act, thereby abolishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the CEFC, and it makes a number of consequential amendments. The CEFC's assets and liabilities will be transferred to the Commonwealth by statutory novation and will be managed by the Treasury.

It should not be the job of the government to operate banking services for industries which are already supported through commercial banking services. It is very unusual for a government to be operating banking services for industries, but this is what has been occurring since the CEFC was established on 3 August 2012 under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012. In the few cases where the government does operate such investment services, these are limited and targeted. Examples include the Indigenous Land Corporation and Screen Australia. But the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is certainly a different case, not least because it is providing assistance to projects that would already be going ahead in order to meet the renewable energy target. The coalition predicted this would be the case when the CEFC was introduced by the previous Labor-Greens government, and it has been proven correct, with the CEFC board choosing to lend to large-scale commercial wind farms.

This potential duplication also calls into question the claims by the CEFC that the existing projects they have financed have resulted in 3.88 million tonnes of emissions reductions each year. Two-thirds of the claimed abatement comes from the Taralga, Portland and Macarthur wind farms, which are already supported through the renewable energy target, so these emissions reductions would have happened without the CEFC and indeed will continue without the CEFC, at no cost to Australian taxpayers.

This, of course, is not the only example of the Labor government being only too keen to throw money at any sector in the hope it solves the problem without doing the research to see if it is truly needed. Too often the Labor Party instinctively reach for the chequebook without seeing if the money is really needed. For them it is all about the headline in the paper the next day and not about sound treatment of taxpayers' money.

Mr Bandt: Cadbury!

Mr IRONS: I hear the interjection from the Greens member for Melbourne, who says that this bill is a threat to the way of life. The Greens would have us go back to horse and cart and burning wood, destroying the livelihoods and lives of Australians purely through their own ideology.

Mr Husic: 'What about Cadbury?' is what he said.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! The member for Swan has the call and will be heard in silence.

Mr Bandt: You'll fund chocolate but not solar power.

Mr IRONS: Yeah, righto. Anyway, to talk again of the Rudd government, in the 42nd Parliament Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of the time, introduced funding for solar projects and asked for submissions from all around Australia. I know there were some very good submissions put in from Western Australia that were actually commercially viable. But guess what: the five projects that were awarded funds were all in Queensland. And guess where the Prime Minister's seat was: in Queensland. So none of them went to Western Australia at all. This is another example of the Labor-Greens alliance working against the Western Australian economy, including by keeping this carbon tax. You said I would bring it up and I did; I have brought the carbon tax up. So this is another perfect example of how the Greens-Labor alliance works against Western Australia.

In 2011 I went on the ASEAN delegation, and in that time we went to Singapore. We had the previous member for Braddon there. We also had the previous member for beef stroganoff—sorry, the previous member for Reid. We met with the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, and these two members spoke to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and said, 'What do you think about investing in renewable energy programs and things like that?' The Singaporean government official just said, 'We will not invest in non-sustainable projects, so we have not invested in any renewable energy targets at all.' So there is a perfect example of a sensible government leaving it to industry to drive that part of the sector.

Of course, this bill was part of the carbon tax repeal bills, and I mention that just for the member for Melbourne. This bill sits within that context. I support the bill. However, in one moment the Labor Party chose to make the parliament's focus the introduction of a carbon tax without any mandate—in fact, with a mandate not to introduce a carbon tax—and with it other possibilities were extinguished.