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GC 12/11 21 February 2011




GILBERT: ...relates to the carbon price and with me, the Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. This
is a report from the Australian Industry Group, Minister, which says that there's been a waste of
money, that taxpayers haven't got value for money from a lot of the Green Programs. Why are you
sticking to many of those?

COMBET: Well that's not the main message from that report and I will come back to that. The key
message from the Australian Industry Group report out today is that a carbon price is needed in our
economy. Exactly what the Government has been arguing and the AIG's also pointed to the fact that
it's the vast investment that's need in our electricity infrastructure that's been driving up
electricity prices in recent years. And which threatens to drive them up further over the next few
years. But the AIG is very clear on the issue about a carbon price. We need a carbon price in our
economy to promote investment certainty in the energy sector in particular, but also to cut
pollution and to drive investment in clean energy sources. They're the key take-outs from the

GILBERT: But what about Heather Ridout from the Industry Group says that there is a lot of money
being spent on renewable energies, expensive options in her words she said "we could get stuck with
the equivalent of a Rolls Royce when a hatch back will do". Too much money being spent on those
abatement programs and the Government's sticking with a number of them.

COMBET: Well, there would be a few points I'd make about it. One is that the, what we call the
Large Scale Renewable Energy Scheme that the Government's instituted to achieve 20 per cent of our
electricity supply from renewable energy sources is an important program that will be complemented
by a carbon price. In fact that scheme will be made cheaper by a carbon price. What the AIG is
specifically pointing to though is the small scale type of programs, things like the solar panels
on roof tops and of course the Government's already taken some steps, effective from the 1st of
July this year, to reduce the level of subsidy and other state governments subsidies that have been
feeding into that issue, of course have also been in the spotlight in the recent times and the NSW
Government several months ago announced a very significant cut in subsidies to that area, but in
addition of course the Government has announced recently a number of changes to those programs so I
think our [interrupted, continues] our form is good on the issue.

GILBERT: Why don't you cut them? Get rid of them?

COMBET: Well our form is pretty good. I think we have received some criticism because some of those
programs were cut and were capped. Our main game focus and this is reinforced by the AIG report
today, is to get a carbon price into the economy, a market mechanism because that's going to be the
cheapest, fairest, most equitable and efficient away of pricing carbon, cutting pollution, driving
investment in clean energy.

GILBERT: But the damaging uncertainty that Heather Ridout warns about is something we've seen over
the last year or two and in part because the Labor Government capitulated, when you could have gone
and fought harder for the first carbon mechanism when you had it there ready to go.

COMBET: Well, let's, let's not suffer from short term memory loss. The Government never capitulated
about anything. The Government endeavoured on three separate occasions to get a carbon price
mechanism through the Parliament in the last term...

GILBERT: But then gave up and pushed it back.

COMBET: No, let's not forget the reality here. The Coalition and the Greens combined three times to
block a carbon price mechanism. The Governments maintained a commitment to that reform in our
economy, because it is needed to cut pollution, generate investment certainty, particularly the
energy sector and to drive investment in clean energy like wind power and solar power. So that's
the reform that we remain committed to and we intend on seeing it through.

GILBERT: Minister, thank you for your time.

COMBET: No worries Kieran.