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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6320

Ms PARKE (2:47 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. How will regional communities in Australia benefit from the—

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Fremantle will resume her seat. I do not need running commentary from the member for Canning about who is not in their seat. That is now the member for Fremantle’s seat.

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Canning.

Ms PARKE —My question is to the Prime Minister. How will regional communities in Australia benefit from the government’s renewable energy target?

Mr Truss interjecting

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Fremantle for her question. I notice the interjection from the Leader of the National Party that renewable energy equals people losing their jobs. That is exactly what he interjected, and I would have it placed on the parliamentary record. Can I just say to the honourable member that, if that is his attitude to the future of solar, if that is his attitude to the future of wind, if that is his attitude to the future of tidal and wave and if that is his attitude to the future of the rest of the renewable energy sector, then it says everything about why in this House for the last three weeks we have not got a single question on climate change—not a single question on renewable energy, not a single question on the CPRS. Do we know why that is the case? Because those opposite are terminally divided on this question.

As I said yesterday in the House, on the CPRS report which came out of the Senate on the future of climate change, we had the Liberals dividing against the Liberals. Then, of course, on the renewable energy target, we had the Nationals dividing against the Liberals. Then, of course, some of the Nationals divided against other Nationals and some of the Nationals divided against some of the Liberals.

Can I just say to those opposite that these matters before the Senate now equal the future of Australian industry and the future of Australian jobs. The honourable member mounted a campaign against his predecessor on the fact that he was going to be greener and cleaner than the member for Bradfield—I think that was the case: greener and cleaner. Brendan nods that that was the case: that was the campaign launched against the member for Bradfield. I have always said about the member for Bradfield: he always stood for what he believed in, as opposed to certain other members who have replaced him.

Notwithstanding having rolled the member for Bradfield as the Leader of the Opposition on a clean, green approach to climate change, one which has singularly unified all members sitting opposite, we have of course the Climate Institute providing us with advice in their 2009 study about the employment impacts from wind, solar and bioenergy. That analysis shows that the implementation of clean energy projects across Australia would result in some 26,000 new jobs. Furthermore, what it says is that 2½ thousand new ongoing positions would occur in power stations and there would be 15,000 construction jobs and 8,600 indirect jobs in supporting sectors.

But this is where it gets interesting in terms of where the jobs are concentrated. The report advises us that it will be focused in regional centres such as Wollongong—I am sure the member for Cunningham would be pleased about that. Yass—I am not sure whether the member for Hume would welcome additional jobs in Yass. Alby? Wagga Wagga—where does the member for Riverina stand in terms of new jobs in Wagga Wagga? I would suggest she reads this report as well. Cooma and Bega—I know for a fact that the member for Eden-Monaro would be supporting extra jobs in his electorate. Scottsdale in Tasmania—I think the member for Bass supports jobs in her area. Portland in Victoria—I am sure the member will be supporting jobs there. Port Augusta in South Australia—what about the member for Grey? Where does the member for Grey stand on extra jobs in their area? And Albany in the west, where the good old member for O’Connor comes from—the good old member for O’Connor, who is now up and running as the next candidate for the leadership of the opposition, out there, I am sure, supporting renewable energy jobs in his electorate.

If we are going to act on climate change, a couple of things are necessary. We need to get a CPRS through the Senate. The Liberal Party and National parties are so divided they do not know what to do about it. We need to get renewable energy targets through the Senate—the Liberal Party and National parties are so divided they do not know what to do about it.

Mr Hunt interjecting

Mr RUDD —But can I just say to the ever-interjecting member for—

A government member—Flinders.

Mr RUDD —Flinders—thank you. I was going to say something else, but I will not—that the future of rebates for people wanting to buy solar panels in the future depends on the passage of the renewable energy target legislation—

Mr Hunt —You’re talking about solar after last week’s performance? You are a champion!

Mr RUDD —The member for Flinders again objects very loudly, as he is often given to do. The member for Flinders, a bit like the member for Curtin, has had ample opportunity to ask questions on a particular matter but they never seem to come. We have been having a debate about solar panels for how many days now? Quite a while. We have been having a debate about the CPRS for a few weeks and nothing seems to be coming.

Why is it, member for Flinders, that the 26-member strong opposition tactics committee has not given you a single question yet on solar rebates? Not one! Why has the member for Flinders been neutered on this question? We may ask: why has he been neutered on this question? There is a reason: because they are terminally divided on what to do on the RET. This is where the rubber really hits the road. The future of working families’ ability to get renewable energy certificates, to get a discount on future solar panels, depends on whether the Liberals and Nationals will block legislation in the Senate on the renewable energy target. It is as simple as that. That is the bottom line. Therefore, they are being consistent with what they have done in the past—blocked the CPRS; blocked the Australian Business Investment Partnership; threatened to block the renewable energy target, as the Nationals indicated yesterday—in this permanent cycle of negativity.

But put politics to one side—jobs are at stake here. The ability of working families to get a discount for their solar panels is at stake here as well. So I say to the Leader of the Opposition, who is now freed of the spectre of the member for Higgins behind him taking over the leadership of the Liberal Party: it is time for the Leader of the Opposition to stand up and be counted. Pass the CPRS legislation. Pass the renewable energy target legislation. And, on the way through, give the member for Flinders a question so he can ask one in the House.