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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5234


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP ( Mackellar ) ( 17:58 ): The shadow Treasurer was mentioning rorts. I think he was concerned about a sum of $4.5 million.

Mr Bradbury: On a point of order: he was doing no such thing. The member referred to the shadow Treasurer.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: Pardon my slip of the tongue. The Assistant Treasurer was complaining about rorts and $4.5 million. I would like to ask him about what is a potential rort of $10 billion of taxpayers' money—that is, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. I trust that the Assistant Treasurer will be across all the fine detail of this corporation.

I will ask him a series of questions. First, can you tell us what benchmark return the government is requiring the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to adopt? Second, I note from estimates that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will mete out to what are defined by government as 'commercial investments' the sum of $10 billion. I ask the Assistant Treasurer for his definition of 'commercial investment'. Third, because of the inherent risk arising out of the nature of these loans—by its very definition and the way it was established, it is a risky business—one would normally require a return of around 10 per cent. Does the minister consider that to be a reasonable return?

As we are running out of time, I am putting these questions in sequential order and I will recap them for the benefit of the minister. But I would like precise answers to these specific questions. My next question is: is it true that any returns, if any, made by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are, in fact, not to be returned to taxpayers but simply reinvested in the entity itself? Further, given that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, under its investment mandate, has the scope to make both concessional loans and guarantees—highly unusual if not, dare I say, irregular—is that not a level of risk that taxpayers should not typically be made to carry?

I will recap those so that, with ease, you can answer them individually. What is the benchmark return the government has required the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to adopt? Secondly, what is your definition of a commercial investment? Thirdly, where it is a risky business, which this clearly is, would a return of 10 per cent or more not be a reasonable expectation? Is it a fact that no returns achieved will go back to the taxpayers, instead being returned to the entity? Do you or do you not agree that the investment mandate—being able to make concessional loans and guarantees—means that the taxpayer is carrying a level of risk which is unreasonable? May I please have specific answers to those very specific questions?