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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3282

Mr JOHN COBB (Calare) (16:32): If ever there was a time and a reason to have a disallowance motion, this is it. It defies belief for a government to turn its back on its own policy—its own mantra for dealing with renewables and reducing emissions—and allow the Greens to sit on the government and come up with an amendment to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act which defies common sense and sends the worst possible message to industries everywhere.

This amendment to the act means that a thoroughly efficient, thoroughly renewable industry is being denied the opportunity to make use of its waste. This amendment to the act defies common sense. Why, in heaven's name, would a government want to spit on itself in this way? Obviously it is because of the Greens, who have never let a job, particularly a job in regional Australia, get in the way of ruining an industry. They have never done that and they are certainly running true to form today.

I, and the coalition, thoroughly support this motion. This amendment defies common sense and imagination. In my own electorate there is a forestry industry—it is not native, but it is a huge plantation forestry industry—so what kind of message does it send to that industry? The current act does not allow the harvesting of old-growth forests, or anything else for that matter, to be used for this renewable purpose. It can only be done with the waste product of normal harvesting. I cannot stress enough that if common sense is a measure, then it has gone out the window with this amendment. I do not care what electorate you are in. There would be more electorates in Tasmania that are going to suffer than anywhere else.

If we want people living in the regions at all, we certainly do not want a government run by the Greens. As I said earlier, the Greens have never let a job, particularly a job in regional Australia, stand in the way of destroying an industry. That is their sole purpose with this amendment. This amendment is designed to make a legal industry, acting in accordance with all the laws, regulations and forestry agreements, less profitable in the eyes of the Greens so there will be no industry at all. I do not know if it ever crossed the minds of any of the Greens to get out into regional Australia and see how important the forestry industry is there. I talk about my own electorate in this—I cannot help it, because we are full of renewables, whether agriculture, the plantation industry, the forestry industry or whatever. What kind of a message does it send to anyone in regional Australia when a government walks away from its own policy on renewables and walks away from the whole reason that it is bringing in a carbon tax, supposedly? That they are willing to put this amendment up underlines the fact that the whole carbon tax is a charade. Why in heaven's name would you put up a tax which you are saying is to reduce emissions and then turn around and move an amendment to a current act which will negate the ability to have renewables? I guess only this government would know, but certainly the Greens know.

I just hope that the mover of this motion has the backing of his fellow Independents. As to the member for New England, for example, I can tell you that 90 per cent of his constituents would find the lack of common sense in this amendment to the act to be totally reprehensible. I can tell you that they would in most of our electorates. If the Australian people fully realised what this amendment did, in terms of totally letting common sense go out of the window, to simply give the Greens a win, to try and destroy an industry, then I wonder what they would say. And I hope that, if anyone does vote for this amendment and against the motion, they have got the guts to go back to their electorate and say, 'I failed you, but I did it to stop the government losing an act.'