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Monday, 7 September 2009
Page: 5773

Senator JOHNSTON (6:01 PM) —On behalf of the opposition I confirm that we are supportive of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment Bill 2009, in line with the very learned and erudite speech given by the shadow minister and member for Flinders, Mr Hunt. The point we should make is that a matter of moments before this bill was introduced into the House there were substantial amendments put to it. Clearly, the bill received very limited consultation time from the department and the minister. We have before us at some later time today or this week an explanatory memorandum that has been rewritten, rewritten, re-amended and re-amended again. So we are on our fourth version of some 19 pages.

This is terribly indicative of the parlous state of timeliness, consideration and, generally, the due diligence that has been applied by the government, and particularly this minister, to this most important area. Without a proper national greenhouse energy reporting framework there can be no enforcement. This is the fundamental issue that is underlining an emissions trading scheme. Without proper legislation that is well thought out, we cannot have an emissions trading scheme. There are 12 pages of amendments due to come into this place from the government. What does that say about the government’s preparation of the bill?

I have indicated that there are some, I think, 32 areas that have been substantially amended. As I say, it is important legislation. The legislation has been brought forward with a limited degree of consultation. It is an enormously important piece of legislation that will evolve to provide government with a clear perspective and a register that sets out what is happening in those companies that are beyond the threshold, their reporting and auditing.

The opposition supports this bill. It sees it as an important bill but simply is perplexed as to why the government could not have got it more correct from the outset. What is the great hurry here? I find that is the most perplexing aspect of the government’s performance in its due diligence here. As I say, we have an explanatory memorandum, a supplementary explanatory memorandum, a correction to the explanatory memorandum and a revised explanatory memorandum. I am wondering what the fifth version could possibly be entitled. That is a mystery to me which I am hopeful we will never have resolved. On behalf of the opposition I confirm that we support the bill.