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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7951

Mr HAYES (1:18 PM) —I rise today to extend my support to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2009. The passage of this legislation is sought in order to tackle climate change.

This is an area which was clearly neglected during the past 12 years of the previous government. Today, Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party are still divided and continue to debate whether climate change even exists. We have a responsibility to Australians and we have a responsibility to future generations to act on climate change now. We on this side of the House have a comprehensive plan of action to reduce Australia’s national emissions, halt their growth and turn them around for the first time in this country’s history. This legislation will bring Australia into line with the rest of the modern energy economies of the world in terms of promoting green, renewable energy.

This legislation provides not only a modern market mechanism to facilitate the application of renewable energy technology but also a platform on which to inspire developers and innovators of green technology to do their bit. It is most important to have regard for the fact that, under this scheme, in generating certainty for those developers and innovators the scheme generates jobs—enabling employment across a broad spectrum, including various areas of finance, manufacturing, operations and trade. It fact, it is predicted that by 2050 the renewable energy sector will be approximately 30 times larger than it is today. The government’s target of having 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supplied by renewable sources by 2020 underscores that development. In financial terms, the RET will provide a much needed economic boost, leading to $19 billion in investments in the renewable energy sector between now and 2020. The legislation before the House will provide the certainty sought by the various innovators, developers and operators of technologies in the renewable energy sector.

The legislation provides for a review of the RET scheme to be undertaken by 2014, coinciding with the review of the CPRS, and this will ensure that both schemes are operating efficiently and effectively and that they are delivering on the commitments that are being made in terms of our targets for renewable energy into the future. The passage of this legislation will also, for the first time, bring into line the various state and national objectives in a single national scheme.

Some of us might recall the enthusiasm when Senator Robert Hill introduced the MRET scheme in 2000. By the way, that measure was designed to complement Australia’s commitment to the Kyoto protocol. Regrettably, that commitment never eventuated, and it took the election of the Rudd government to commit to Kyoto. Had the former government acted on Senator Hill’s advice, it would have made for a much easier transition now, but those things just did not occur under the former administration, the Howard government. This not only damaged our international reputation but also took away opportunities for us to create new, green employment and to develop a workforce with the skills necessary to compete internationally in this emerging area of industry.

Prior to coming to this place, I worked for many years in the clean energy sector, principally with Energy Developments Limited, EDL, which continues to lead the way as one of the world’s pioneers in renewable and clean energy technology, having delivered approximately two million megawatt hours of green energy to the Australian power grid in the year ended 30 June 2009. EDL is one of Australia’s largest waste coalmine gas generators and operates projects such as our largest and leading waste coalmine gas plant at Appin, just outside my electorate, where they generate 97 megawatts of continuous power for the Australian power grid. Importantly, that power station abates over two million tonnes of CO2 equivalent gases every year. I also worked on the German Creek power station in Queensland, which generates 32 megawatts of power and abates over 800,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases per year. In Australia currently, EDL employs 250 direct employees, many of them in regional and rural areas, and supports another 150 indirect jobs. That is not counting the many hundreds of construction jobs which are undertaken by this company on a regular basis as it develops and deploys its technologies.

Finally, I would like to put on record my support for consideration of proposals put forward by various companies, including EDL, to include waste coalmine methane as part of the renewable energy target. We need to ensure that those companies who are our innovators and developers of renewable energy technology have the necessary incentive to undertake their activities with a degree of certainty so that they can help achieve our objectives.