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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 26

Senator PRATT (2:17 PM) —My question is to Senator Wong, the Minister for Climate Change and Water. I would like the minister to please update the Senate on the actions being taken by the government to support low-pollution jobs during this global recession.

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I thank Senator Pratt for her question and for her ongoing interest in climate change and how we support the jobs of today whilst we build the jobs of tomorrow. Today the Prime Minister and the Treasurer announced a $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan to support up to 90,000 jobs over the next two years, and an important part of this plan is the investment of an additional $3.9 billion in energy efficiency programs. That is $3.9 billion over and above what the Rudd government is already committed to in the context of energy efficiency policy; $3.9 billion in additional funding to make Australian homes more energy efficient and to support Australian jobs; new investment of $3.9 billion over and above the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme household assistance package, which is estimated to ensure around $6 billion per year to households when the scheme commences. As part of this plan the government will install ceiling insulation in around 2.7 million Australian homes; increase the rebate for solar hot water from $1,000 to $1,600 from today; and increase rebates to make rental properties more energy-efficient from $500 up to $1,000, also effective today.

So this is investment in jobs and also investment in the sorts of changes we need to make to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution and to respond to climate change. This investment will support the jobs of tradespeople and workers employed in the manufacturing, distribution and installation of ceiling insulation during this severe global recession. And it delivers on the commitment we made in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme white paper— (Time expired)

Senator PRATT —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I would like some details from the minister with regard to how these measures, these nation-building investments, will help Australian households save money on their energy bills and also how they will contribute to meeting Australia’s carbon pollution reduction targets.

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I thank Senator Pratt for the supplementary question. As I said, this delivers on our commitment in the white paper to implement energy efficiency policies ahead of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Today’s investment will reduce emissions by a total in excess of 40 million tonnes at 2020. It is an investment to help Australian households do their bit in meeting Australia’s targets for reducing carbon pollution. As you know, Mr President, legislation for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will come forward later this year, and through this scheme the government is proposing to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution by between five and 15 per cent by 2020—that is, a reduction of between 34 and 41 per cent in the carbon footprint of every Australian man, woman and child on 1990 levels. Now, we have been upfront about the additional upfront costs households will face as a result of putting a cost on carbon pollution— (Time expired)

Senator PRATT —Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. I would like the minister to please update the Senate regarding the threats to building the low-pollution economy of the future and delivering this nation-building investment.

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The $6 billion that the government will be putting to households to help them make this transition and the substantial targets that the government has put on the table in its target range are at risk from those opposite. We know those opposite are completely divided when it comes to the issue of climate change. We know the opposition benches are filled with climate change deniers, such as Senator Bernardi, who came out recently saying:

But exactly what is causing climate change and what—if anything—should we be doing about it should remain the subject of debate.

We also know what Senator Joyce thinks. Senator Joyce said:

The view across the National Party is that the reasons put forward to justify an emissions trading scheme are just a load of rubbish ... Malcolm Turnbull will probably come on board with an ETS but that doesn’t mean the National Party will support it.

Of course, we know that in government Mr Turnbull advocated a scheme, completely— (Time expired)