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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 11970

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (10:06): Mr Speaker, I present the report on the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Denmark, Sweden and Greece in April 2011. At the outset I would like to congratulate Jackie Morris, Julia Clifford from the President of the Senate's office, as well as the DFAT staff for the support they gave to this delegation.

The delegation's fundamental emphasis was on sustainable energy production in Europe. As part of that we visited a significant number of companies, particularly in Denmark. One thing I was unaware of before this delegation's visit was that Denmark's strong movement towards sustainable energy was not a response to recent climate change issues but an attempt by Denmark to overcome the oil dependence that it experienced in the 1970s. Denmark then went into alternatives.

We saw a variety of companies during this visit: DONG Energy's Avedore Power Station, which utilises wood pellets and straw; Riso National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark, which undertakes research in wind, solar and fuel alternatives; and Inbicon Biorefinery, a DONG subsidiary. One of the realities of our visit was the significant cross-political support for strong action on climate change and a move towards alternatives. Unlike Australia, where we see a very intense debate around these issues, in both Sweden and Denmark the reality was cross-political support for action. Obviously, in the interim since our visit, the change of government in Denmark will mean an even more intense support for change.

We visited Greece to look at their intentions in this field. I think the delegation was universally of the view that, whilst Greece might have had at that time great aspirations, its delivery would be somewhat questionable over the long term. One of the problems Greece faces is that 10 per cent of its population are on the islands and it has very real challenges with regards to generation of energy to counter that problem of distribution.

Another aspect of the visit to Greece outside of the energy area was a discussion with the International Organisation of Migration. There the chairman of that organisation expressed concern about the deterioration of records in Greece of Australian migration. Obviously this country experienced a major surge of Greek migration after the Second World War. These records are in a fairly forlorn state there. He indicated that on previous occasions he has tried to get some interest from the Greek diaspora in this country and various financial sources to make sure that those records of where people came from, their occupations, their family units et cetera, were preserved. The member for Hindmarsh opposite would have an interest in that and I know that he will work very hard to make sure something is done to preserve these records.

In Sweden, we saw the Fortum Corporation, a company that has activities in a variety of Scandinavian countries. That meeting very much persuaded us of the need for a global carbon price. They again emphasised the need for international action on this matter. Another part of our visit to Sweden was our visit to Sodertalje, a town outside Stockholm which has experienced significant Assyrian and broader Iraqi migration. It was interesting to note the huge security at the council chambers because of threats from the extreme right racist elements in Sweden. It is obviously of interest to the delegation that this council was doing significant work to make sure that there was not higher-than-average unemployment in the town. The visit to Sweden also encompassed a visit to Hammarby Sjostad, a district of Stockholm on reclaimed land. There we saw an attempt by the Stockholm authorities to make sure that it was a sustainable community. It was actually planned originally for Sweden's bid for the 2004 Olympics, which, having come to nothing, is being utilised for this purpose.

The delegation was very impressed by the activities of Sweden and Denmark in particular in relation to climate change; the degree to which they are ahead of this country with regards to renewable energy; the way in which government policies are across the political divide; and the way in which corporations in those countries see a very real future for themselves in these alternative energies of the future.

The SPEAKER: There being no further discussion, the item has concluded.