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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7091


Senator Milne to move:

That the following matter be referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 3 December 2014:

(a) the manner in which electricity network companies have presented information to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), and whether they have misled the AER in relation to:

(i) their weighted average costs of capital,

(ii) the necessity for the infrastructure proposed,

(iii) their regulated asset valuations, and

(iv) actual interest rates claimed against actual borrowing costs;

(b) to ascertain whether state-owned network companies have prioritised their focus on future privatisation proceeds above the interests of energy users;

(c) whether the arrangements for the regulation of the cost of capital are delivering allowed rates of return above the actual cost of capital;

(d) whether the AER has actively pursued lowest-cost outcomes for energy consumers;

(e) whether network monopolies should have the right to recover historic overspending that has delivered unwanted and unused infrastructure;

(f) how the regulatory structure and system could be improved;

(g) whether the arrangements for the connection and pricing of network services is discriminating against households and businesses that are involved in their own electricity production;

(h) whether the current system provides adequate oversight of electricity network companies; and

(i) any other related matter.

Senator Ludwig to move:

That there be laid on the table by the Ministers representing the Minister for Industry, the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Treasurer, no later than Wednesday, 1 October 2014, any documents held in relation to:

(a) funding sought by the Queensland Government, and/or any assessment of the priority of the Toowoomba Bypass project; and

(b) a review of the project by the Federal Government, and/or any correspondence between the Federal Government and Queensland State Government relating to a review of the infrastructure project.

Senator Waters to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) this week the Minister for Education, Mr Christopher Pyne, has won the most sexist politician for 2014 in the 22nd annual Ernie Awards, with his claim that his university loan interest hikes will not disproportionately impact women because ‘they will not be able to earn the high incomes that dentists and lawyers will earn’,

(ii) the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott, has previously won the same award in 2002, 2010 and 2011,

(iii) 2014 saw the highest ever number of sitting federal parliamentarians nominated:

Tony Abbott MP (thrice)

Christopher Pyne MP

Clive Palmer MP (thrice)

Kevin Andrews MP

Senator Joe Bullock

Peter Dutton MP

Tony Burke MP

Barnaby Joyce MP

Andrew Laming MP

Senator Cory Bernardi

George Christensen MP

Senator Mathias Cormann

Senator Eric Abetz, and

(iv) sexism undermines efforts to achieve gender equality and as Ms Emma Watson said in her address to the United Nations recently, ‘Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too’; and

(b) calls on all federal members of Parliament who are nominated for the Ernie Awards to accept that we are not in the 1950s and to proactively work toward achieving gender equality.

Senator Waters to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) Mr George Christensen MP, on 24 September 2014, publicly referred to people who care about the Great Barrier Reef as ‘gutless green germs for the terrorists they are’,

(ii) labelling people who care about the reef as terrorists is reprehensible, insensitive and utterly unacceptable, particularly at this stage of global events, and

(iii) to speak of ordinary Australians who care about the reef using terms like ‘terrorists’ ‘butchered’, ‘kill off’ and ‘extremist’, risks elevating community disagreement to dangerous levels; and

(b) condemns Mr Christensen’s comments and calls on him to withdraw them.

Senator Siewert to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) Advent Energy intends to conduct 3D seismic testing to explore for gas within one of the most productive fishing grounds in New South Wales, only 3 kilometres off the coast of Newcastle in Commonwealth waters,

(ii) seismic testing has impacted on our fisheries in the past, with local fishers describing affected areas as ‘like a desert’,

(iii) the Federal Government has recently removed the requirement for offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters to be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act),

(iv) an application by the Commonwealth Fisheries Association for seismic testing to be listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act in March 2013 was rejected in September 2013, and

(v) if this exploration or gas drilling proceeds, the supply of locally-caught, fresh fish and prawns to Sydney and Newcastle will be directly affected; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) reinstate the requirement for all offshore petroleum or greenhouse gas activities in Commonwealth waters to be assessed under the EPBC Act,

(ii) ensure comprehensive baseline studies and ongoing monitoring of marine life are a mandatory condition of any offshore petroleum activities,

(iii) reject Advent Energy’s application to conduct seismic testing within important fishing grounds off the New South Wales coast, and

(iv) reconsider whether seismic testing should be classified as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act.

Senator Waters to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Queensland Government has announced that it will use Queensland taxpayer funds to pay resource companies and port developers to dump dredge spoil in an area which would affect the nationally significant Caley Valley wetlands near Abbot Point,

(ii) this proposal would shift the costs of building the world’s largest coal port in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area from mining companies and port developers to Queensland taxpayers, and

(iii) the Queensland Government has indicated that it will ask the Federal Government to contribute to the cost of paying resource companies and port developers; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to rule out allowing federal taxpayer funds to be used to pay resource companies or port developers to meet their obligations under environmental approvals, including at Abbot Point.