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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 9051

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsCabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (17:04): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

These amendments fall into a number of groups. The amendments to clauses 27, 29 to 38, and 215 are technical. They remove the requirement for the administrator to notify land titles registries about emissions reduction projects. That is because notifying about emissions reductions projects is unnecessary; it is only sequestration projects that need to be brought to the attention of future buyers. That is because permanence provisions only apply to carbon storage projects, for example revegetation or soil carbon.

There are further amendments at the end of division 9 and clause 5 which deal with consent rights for determined native title. This is an amendment which gives holders of determined native title the right to consent to sequestration projects. It will give native title holders the opportunity to negotiate for a share of the benefits of carbon farming initiative projects. The government is still consulting on what other interests should have the right to consent to projects. There is scope to include further interests in regulations.

There is an amendment to clause 112, which is a transparency provision; it provides for a clearer timetable for the publication of the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee's reasons for endorsement of, or refusal to endorse, a proposal.

Finally, there is an amendment to clause 56, dealing with excluded offsets projects and risk level. Under clause 56 the minister can exclude certain kinds of carbon farming initiative projects if they carry risks of adverse impacts on such things as the availability of water, conservation of biodiversity, employment and the local community. There are two amendments made to clause 56. The first amendment requires the minister to consider whether there is a 'material', rather than 'significant', risk that that kind of project will have a 'material', rather than 'significant', adverse impact. The change represents a cautious approach to identifying risks which is appropriate because the carbon farming initiative will create new economic opportunities which could affect other land users.

The second amendment to clause 56 clarifies that the minister will consider impacts on land access for agricultural production in addition to considerations already listed, including impacts on employment, local communities and water. It is an amendment which gives effect to one of the recommendations made by the National Farmers Federation, which of course supports this legislation. This was a suggestion that the National Farmers Federation made in its submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee during the inquiry conducted by that committee into the Carbon Farming Initiative. It was an amendment acting on that suggestion of the National Farmers Federation which the government was happy to take up.