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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5455

Senator XENOPHON (5:53 PM) —I thank the minister for her response. In relation to Senator Birmingham, I take issue with his saying that my amendments on sheet 5880 are about banding. They are not about banding, technically, in the sense that the amendments are about giving incentives, as distinct from the coalition’s amendment, which has been withdrawn. That clearly was a banding amendment, and I was prepared to support that because I saw that as a way forward. I think there is a distinction between the two.

In relation to what the minister has said, it should not be about picking winners and I take her point. I guess my concern is that insofar as there has been a proliferation of wind energy, which is welcome, it does not provide consistent baseload power. In February this year, during a heatwave in South Australia, the reliability of wind turbines went down to three per cent. There is a concern that we will squeeze out emerging technologies such as geothermal, which will need very significant investment to get up and running, and that is my concern. Whilst this is not about picking winners, in a sense maybe we have already picked winners with the way that the RET has been structured, or the MRET scheme, in the context of wind energy. There has been a proliferation of wind energy, it is using up those RECs and the problem is that it may squeeze out emerging technologies, although I do take on board what the minister has said and I do note that the government does have a commitment for these emerging technologies.

I indicate that I will not request a division on these amendments. The opposition, the government and the Greens have indicated their positions and I know where people stand in relation to this.