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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 8069

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (2:22 AM) —The government will also be opposing the amendment. The amendment seeks to make fundamental changes to the manner in which pre-existing generators are included under the measures, by changing the circumstances under which they may create certificates. The consideration of this issue is—as I think Senator Allison would accept—a very complex policy matter that is intimately related to other policy areas fundamental to the scope and operation of the measure. These include the size of the target, the level of noncompliance charge, the mix of technologies and their relative contributions, the concept of banking of certificates, and the broader economic costs of the measure. Consideration of this issue should therefore, I suggest with respect, be addressed in the broad policy context of the statutory review, which is now only weeks away, rather than in the narrow administrative context of this bill at 2.30 a.m. on the last day of sittings for this year.

Senator Allison, we do not always agree with the Democrats in relation to environmental matters but I think all of us on this side accept that you have a genuine interest in the environment and trying to do the right thing. So do we all, I suggest. We might differ on how we get there. As a government, of course, we have to balance a lot of things, and people expect us to do that. Perhaps we cannot always do exactly what we would like to, because there are countervailing pressures, but I accept the genuineness of your proposals, whilst not at this stage and at this time of night agreeing with them. I accept that they are put forward in an honest and genuine attempt to try and improve a situation. But, Senator Allison, if I can again plead with you, this administrative bill to fix administrative and legal points that need to be fixed to make the existing system work better really is not the place to be doing it.

I urge you—and I know you will do it without me urging you—to take these issues to the review. I think you will be pleased with the way the review is set up and I think you will accept that it is a serious review that will be properly resourced with the right scientific support to get at all the issues that you are talking about and that the Labor Party have mentioned in some of their amendments as well. That is the right time to do it, not in this bill dealing with administrative matters. For those reasons, we will be opposing your amendment.