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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5360

Senator BOSWELL (11:42 AM) —I have been told that I can ask some questions before we go on to the amendments. I want to ask this question of Senator Wong. I think it is very important. Senator Wong, in their submission on RET to the committee that investigated it, Catholic Health put that it was going to cost them, on RET only, $650,000 in the first year and by 2020 that would go up to $1.685 million. That was just for the hospitals. When you add aged care onto that, it would cost Catholic aged care $355,841, and in 2020 it would be $1,350,000. If you total those two costs, in the first year Catholic Health has to fork out $1,022,436 for aged care and that goes up to $2.7 million in 2020. Then if you add onto that the cost of the CPRS, the cost goes to $10.8 million—that is, the renewable energy target combined with the CPRS.

I ask the minister: has she considered how this will affect non-profit organisations? Has she responded to Catholic Health? What does she advise Catholic Health to do? Is the minister aware of the cost impacts of the CPRS where Catholic hospitals are likely to face an additional cost of $10.8 million? How will Catholic Health meet the cost of both the CPRS and the RET? Is there any provision to assist non-profit organisations such as Catholic Health? I assume these costs will be faced by Catholic Health and I understand they represent about 10 per cent of the non-profit health and aged-care industry. By a simple multiplication, that would suggest that the RET would represent a cost to the industry of $27 million.

This is a non-profit organisation. How are you going to respond to this? You cannot simply say, ‘We’ll pass the cost on to the aged-care people,’ or, ‘We’ll slug the pensioners another $5 or $6 for their accommodation,’ or, ‘We’ll close down some of the hostels.’ You cannot just inflict a cost like this on non-profit organisations—and it does not just apply to Catholic Health; this would affect many thousands of non-profit organisations. Have you considered this? What is your advice to them? I would like a response on behalf of the many hundreds of thousands of people who find themselves in aged care and those who are confined to hospital or use hospital facilities. The Catholic Health organisation is going to have to write a cheque for $10.8 million off their bottom line for an energy cost increase. How are you going to respond to that? Are there any avenues through the federal budget or state budgets whereby that cost can be picked up? This, I believe, is just one of the costs that have been overlooked by those promoting the CPRS. It is a cost that I think should be dealt with in the RET legislation before the chamber.