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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8076

Ms LIVERMORE (2:59 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Minister, why is carbon capture and storage vital to Australia’s clean energy future?

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) —I thank the member for Capricornia for this question. As a representative of a key regional seat with a significant number of people employed in the coal industry, she—unlike many on the other side—understands the importance of the Prime Minister’s announcement of last Friday. The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Initiative correctly gives us an opportunity internationally to cooperate with the business community and also like-minded countries to finally make significant progress on something of fundamental importance not only to Australia’s economic and environmental future but also to the global community.

Australia is an energy superpower. It is therefore our responsibility to show leadership in trying to put together something about abatement while also securing our economic future. I understand on the other side of the House there are some people who doubt the importance of this technology. I want to remind the House that 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal fired power stations. I want to also remind the House, in terms of our economic prosperity, that it is estimated that coal exports from Australia in this financial year will earn us as a nation $43 billion. For Australia, in terms of security of energy, reducing carbon emissions is therefore exceptionally important, not only from the point of view of the coal industry—I remind the House that the export of LNG is also exceptionally important, and getting storage correct is of fundamental importance, for such key projects as Gorgon. This presents Australia with an opportunity to secure our own economic future and also an obligation for Australia to exercise leadership on this front, because we are at the forefront. We have not only a requirement to solve our own environmental problems but also an opportunity to potentially engage in technological solutions of importance to the whole global community.

I am pleased to say that at last Friday’s discussions there was key support not only from business, representatives of state and territory governments, and the generators but also from key sectors of the environmental movement and the labour movement, represented by the CFMEU and the AWU.

Mr Hunt interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! I will remind the member for Flinders of his status only once.

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON —They understand the importance of Australia making progress, of doing something about guaranteeing that our National Low Emissions Coal Council is able to accelerate the demonstration and deployment of these technological activities and of having in place a carbon storage task force which enables the development of storage, mapping and infrastructure plans in the immediate future. They also welcome the government’s achievement in the House of Representatives last week of potentially world-first legislation covering carbon dioxide storage in Australia’s offshore areas.

I simply say in conclusion that Australia and the broader community understand the challenges that confront us in the demand to reduce carbon emissions in the global community. I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts, representatives of business, NGOs who are prepared to front up to hard decisions and the labour movement to make this a reality. This is about investing in our future and our economic prosperity while also assisting the world in guaranteeing high levels of economic growth while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.