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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 255

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (13:24): I will try again. I asked a specific question: who did you consult with when you decided to oppose quarterly payments? Can I please have an answer to that question? If there was any consultation, with whom did you consult? That is a more than reasonable question, because you have just really destroyed the hopes and aspirations of a lot of small to medium sized businesses who have argued very strongly that they needed this in order to make the kind of investment in research and development that they want. I think that it is more than reasonable that you answer the question. The second question I asked relates to the modelling on what it will do to universities and to research institutions.

As to your ludicrous proposition that abandoning carbon pricing helps these businesses, it is actually the exact opposite. Every innovative business in the country is looking towards the capacity building and new research that it needs to transition to a low-carbon economy. That is what they are doing. They are out there in the renewable energy field, in the energy efficiency field, in the alternative building materials field, in public transport, in systems thinking for changing design—all manner of things, including in agriculture and in cool storage. In all manner of things, people are looking at the innovation that you need to build resilience in the system in a world that is warming. And you, by tearing down carbon pricing, by throwing back to the fossil fuel age, have destroyed and sent offshore a huge number of our researchers already.

At a solar forum in Sydney, a fifth-year solar engineer got up and said that there is no future for her this country under the Abbott government and that she will have to go overseas because of the attack on renewable energy. Go to any of those forums and you will find small businesspeople standing there saying that their growth sector is in medium-scale solar rollout and that is being undermined by the Abbott government. If you are serious about jobs, then you would be moving full-on to build resilience to global warming and bring down emissions, because that will unleash a whole wave of innovation and research across the country. What you are doing is forcing them offshore. Part of your forcing them offshore is now not only taking $1.1 billion out of research and development but also not allowing small and medium cutting-edge businesses the ability to manage their cash flow in a way that enables them to further invest in research and development.

I again put to you, Minister: firstly, who did you consult on not pursuing the quarterly payments and taking it seriously? And, secondly, what is your modelling or what assessment have you got to indicate what is going to be the impact on universities, on public institutions such as the CSIRO and on small and medium enterprises as a result of these changes?