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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5444

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (5:11 PM) —Whilst I am obviously very pleased to participate in a lengthy debate, we have been debating for some time this issue of native forests. I think people have put their views on the table. I appreciate that Senator Abetz and Senator Bob Brown have very different views on this issue, but I would encourage the chamber to consider, if we are able to, getting to a point where we could vote on these amendments.

While I am on my feet, I would like to take the opportunity to respond to two or three issues. There was quite a lot of rather strong language in some of the contributions in relation to forests—words such as ‘death warrant’ were thrown around. Again I simply reiterate what I have already said about the protections in the existing legislation in relation to native forest wood waste. I do not propose to canvass that again.

In relation to Senator Xenophon’s question, would he indulge me by allowing me to take that on notice. That information may well be able to be obtained from the Department of Climate Change, from its carbon accounting section of the department. I will endeavour to find whatever information we can to assist him on that.

Senator Boswell some time ago asked me quite a range of questions in relation to low- and middle-income families and the Climate Change Action Fund. These are matters that are contained within the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme policy and legislation, not in the renewable energy target legislation. They were announced by the Prime Minister in December. They are legitimate issues, and we are very happy to take him through those if he would wish us to. I would suggest that perhaps a better use of time would be if he wished for that briefing to occur in relation to the specific issues he raised. The government would be very happy to provide him with that. I respectfully suggest that that would perhaps be a more expeditious way of dealing with some of the issues he raised. That is what the government would propose.

I should also indicate, for the reasons I have outlined, that the government will obviously not be supporting the amendments from the Australian Greens.