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Thursday, 26 June 2008
Page: 3548

Senator JOYCE (4:10 PM) —I have one of the last questions that I will ask. I acknowledge that there has not been a formal socioeconomic study done on this. If there had been, I presume it would be before the chamber at the moment and we would be discussing it. Be that as it may, in any study—or in whatever you have done in the office—have there been any discussions about how much prime agricultural land would be tied up once we ended up with 80,500 hectares of these schemes going? What would be the effects on food inflation when that issue comes to light? Was there any consideration of any limitations on the use of prime agricultural land, especially that associated with food production for our nation, as it is at the moment?

What do you consider will be the greatest mechanism for getting carbon credits? What species of trees would be involved? There has been some talk around that you would be using such trees as mallees—or would you be more likely to go to heavy eucalypts, which would get you a far greater carbon credit, so far more bang for your buck? So you would be looking for an area that has the ability to sustain such timber, which means you would be looking at prime agricultural land. Was any study done on the relationship effects of this scheme seeing as it is, in form, extremely similar to the managed investment schemes that we currently have? Was there any consideration of the acceptance or otherwise of MIS in rural communities as they are at the moment? Was there any study into the market implications of managed investment schemes or schemes like these when you have differentiation between different forms of taxation treatment that are only noted so much by offence?

Is the capacity of an individual farmer to access a scheme like this the same as it would be for a large corporation? Who are the most likely users of this scheme? Are they to be predominantly companies, such as coal companies, which are currently experiencing record profits? If that is the case, why do we need to give them any further advantages? What is the way by which the minister intends to deal with this issue if, during the course of the committee inquiry, it is shown clearly that there will be problems with this bill when, as I imagine, you have people running out there trying to take advantage of it? What information has the minister given to these people so that they know they could be in a position where they have made an economic expenditure into this form of scheme and it has been knocked out later on? In those discussions what feedback have you had? Seeing that there was not a formal socioeconomic study, whose predominant views did you take? Where did they come from and what parts of the industry were they involved in?