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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7232

Mr OAKESHOTT (3:11 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, with regard to energy use and climate change, if your government is committed to better energy efficiency, committed to delays or avoidance of further coal fired or nuclear generation, committed to true engagement of community in a transition economy, committed to dealing particularly with peak load issues on electricity infrastructure and committed to a national electricity market and a national electricity grid as compared to emerging bidding wars between various states—Prime Minister, if you are committed to these, can you explain your view, your government’s view, on a national feed-in tariff scheme, including consideration of my private member’s bill, which is currently before the House?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I go to his ‘Kennedyesque’ preamble to his question. I noted them all down. They go to renewable energy, the future of coal fired generation and other forms of generation, a national transmission system, peak load stations and also a national electricity market—and the role within all that of a feed-in tariff regime, as I understand it.

In terms of our commitment, first of all, to action on climate change, the government’s strategy is clear. We are proceeding on at least three separate fronts. Firstly, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, as honourable members would be aware, has been introduced by the government to the parliament. We await with active interest what those opposite will do in terms of a critical vote which must occur on it. We know that those opposite have voted so far to do one thing, which is to vote not to vote on it.

But we, the government, have decided that the way ahead is for Australia to have a legislative regime in place because of the needs of business certainty and because of the impending meeting in Copenhagen, which affects us all. The decisions taken there will affect what happens with greenhouse gas emissions globally and, critically, the roll-in of the big economies.

The second front that we are operating on, of course, is what we are doing on energy efficiency. We have particular measures on that already advanced, not least of which is the $4 billion investment that we have underway at present for energy efficiency measures for homes—namely, to have as an objective for the nation energy efficiency measures including ceiling insulation in all of Australia’s owner occupied dwellings. That is a good objective for the nation—and good for jobs also, on the way through—but very good in terms of taking 50 million tonnes equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere.

The third front that we are operating on is the renewable energy target, and of course that goes to the question of legislation as well. We wait with interest as to the posture that will be adopted by those opposite. This is also important, as honourable members would be aware, to the matters I raised earlier in the week about creating the legislative regime to provide discounts effectively for consumers wanting to install solar panels in the future. It is critical that this legislation is passed because it goes to how in fact we are going to provide renewable energy certificates—

Mr Hunt —You still haven’t listed it for debate until 2 am tonight!

Mr RUDD —I do love it when the Liberal Party interject on the delay of legislation. The member for Flinders—in on queue. When it comes to the delay in legislation, when those opposite boast of filibustering, there is something to be answered by those opposite: who is in the business of delaying legislation? We know why these things are occurring. It goes to a collapse of authority, a collapse of leadership. The Leader of the Opposition cannot unite his party, cannot unite the Liberal Party—

Mr Hunt interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Flinders should curb his enthusiasm.

Mr RUDD —or the coalition on these critical questions which are before the parliament.

On the renewable energy target, it also goes to a question which was raised by the honourable member about how we dovetail those arrangements and other arrangements with the whole proposition of feed-in tariffs. This will be the subject of continuing discussion between ourselves and the states. As the honourable member will be familiar with, states have different arrangements on this matter. I can understand, therefore, some of the concerns that are raised in the community on this. We, through our officials, are consulting with the states on a range of matters and will continue to do so. As these consultations come to a conclusion and produce a particular outcome for the nation on feed-in tariffs, if we are able to get to that outcome, then I will of course answer further to the honourable member’s question. We understand the logic of what has been put behind it, we understand the difficulties we currently face given the different regimes which exist in various other states and we understand the complexities which arise as a result, but I can assure the honourable member that we are working through each of those challenges and we are doing so with officials from all of the states and territories.