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Notice given 4 March 2008

341  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy—Given that: (a) the national Energy Efficiency Opportunities program has been put in place to encourage large energy-using businesses to improve their energy efficiency; (b) participation is mandatory for an estimated 250 companies that use more than 0.5 petajoules of energy per year; and (c) the deadline for obligated corporations to submit work schedules was 31 December 2007:

(1) How many work schedules have been submitted.

(2) What is the level of compliance.

(3) (a) What is the compliance standard of the work schedules submitted; (b) are they to a professional standard; and (c) have any of the companies been requested to resubmit work schedules due to a poor standard of auditing.

(4) What level of energy savings do the submitted work plans represent.

(5) On average, what is the percentage of savings identified.

342  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy—With reference to the recommendations on energy efficiency contained in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) review of Australia’s energy market and policies, Energy Policies of IEA Countries—Australia - 2005 :

(1) What plans are in place to address these recommendations.

(2) What level of abatement has the National Framework for Energy Efficiency (NFEE) programs achieved to date.

(3) Given the statements in the January/February 2008 edition of the Clean Energy Council’s magazine, EcoGeneration , that the ‘NFEE process has been hamstrung by a combination of inter-jurisdictional disputes and rivalries, a lack of senior ministerial interest, and active resistance from vested interests and sections of the bureaucracy’ and that the NFEE process is failing on implementation, what actions are being undertaken to progress the NFEE implementation program (for example, increased resource levels, independent advice, improving cooperation between jurisdictions).

343  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy—Given the statement of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts prior to the 2007 election that the Australian Labor Party was committed to a national energy efficiency goal that ‘will put Australia on track to being at the forefront of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) energy efficiency improvement’:

(1) Does this election commitment equate to a numerical energy efficiency or energy intensity target.

(2) How will this be achieved.


 344  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy—Given: (a) the announcement of the then Minister for the Environment and Water Resources on 20 February 2007 that conventional, incandescent light bulbs are to be phased out over the next 3 years and replaced with energy-saving globes; (b) the release of a discussion paper on 17 December 2007 on the proposed phase-out of incandescent bulbs and a minimum energy standard of 15 lumens per watt by 2010 and 20 lumens per watt by 2013; (c) that market-proven compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) represent more than 15 per cent of the market share, with sales increasing rapidly and exponentially; (d) that CFLs are typically 60 lumens per watt, which is four times more efficient than the cut-off threshold proposed in the discussion paper; (e) that the additional benefits of high efficiency lighting are the energy savings and longer lifetime; and (f) that compared to incandescent lamps, high efficiency lighting saves in the order of $50 to $100 over its lifetime, has, on average, a 3 year payback and delivers a very competitive greenhouse abatement cost of $3 per tonne:

(1) What policy options, other than the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), were considered.

(2) Was a simplified energy label, supported by government promotion of high efficiency lighting solutions or rebates for efficient lamps, considered.

(3) What role did industry play in forming this standard.

(4) Given that setting a higher MEPS level and faster timetable or faster MEPS would be consistent with the Minister’s policy objectives, why is a lower and slower MEPS being implemented.

345  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy—With reference to the former Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 April 2007 of a nuclear strategy, detailed in the press release ‘Uranium mining and nuclear energy: a way forward for Australia’, which included four work plans to increase uranium exports and to prepare for a potential expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia:

(1) Can an update on the work plans be provided.

(2) What budget allocation has been made.

(3) Will the work plans become public documents.

(4) What will be the mechanisms for public consideration.

(5) Given that, in 2006, the then Prime Minister and the then Minister for Foreign Affairs were talking up the prospects of a uranium enrichment industry in Australia and referred to enrichment as ‘value adding’, claiming that future generations would lament the fact that we did not add value to Australian uranium, just as current generations lament the fact that we did not add value to Australian wool in the past, what are the Government’s plans, if any, in regards to uranium enrichment.

(6) Has the Australian Secret Intelligence Service received any advice on how our near neighbours, for example Indonesia, would respond if the Government were to approve a uranium enrichment plant in Australia.

346  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—With reference to the Tracking to the Kyoto Target 2006 report which indicated that Australia will exceed its Kyoto target of 108 per cent of 1990 level emissions by 2010 by 6 million tonnes and the Tracking to the Kyoto Target 2007 report which includes new ‘with measures’ measures announced recently by the Government:


 (1) Given that during additional estimates hearings of the Finance and Public Administration Committee in February 2008 it was confirmed that the expansion of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target will not occur until 2010 and that this may lead to increased energy demand being met by fossil fuel generated electricity at the expense of renewable energy projects, does the Government intend to meet Australia’s Kyoto target.

(2) What are the assumptions and the abatement levels attributed to the new ‘with measures’ measures.

347  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—Given: (a) the Government’s in-principle greenhouse emissions targets, as outlined in their election policy, to achieve a 60 per cent reduction below 2000 levels by 2050; (b) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Bali, Indonesia in December 2006, Australia stated it supported the in-principle science-based targets of 25 per cent to 40 per cent reduction by 2020 for developed nations and at least 50 per cent reduction in global greenhouse pollution by 2050; and (c) that a 33 per cent reduction over 12 years would involve all sectors at a cost of 5 per cent of gross domestic product (or in current terms, $50 billion a year):

(1) (a) When will the Government adopt a target for 2020; and (b) how will this target be met.

(2) Given that Australia’s emissions are still increasing, relative to 1990 emissions, in what year will Australia’s greenhouse emissions start to decrease, relative to 1990 levels.

(3) From what sectors will these reductions come.

348  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—Given that: (a) the transport and stationary energy sectors are the largest greenhouse emitting sectors in Australia; (b) the stationary energy and other sectors have much less capacity for reductions than the transport sector; (c) motor vehicles are responsible for approximately 80 per cent of transport emissions, with public transport responsible for 3 per cent; (d) with oil approaching $US100 a barrel, demand for mass transport has risen by 20 per cent since the beginning of 2007 and is likely to rise another 10 per cent in 2008:

(1) What plan is in place to achieve cuts from the transport sector by 2010.

(2) What strategic direction has been provided to state governments in line with stated greenhouse emission cuts.

(3) What strategic direction and actions are being taken to develop alternative fuels.

(4) What plans are there to abolish tax concessions and subsidies for road transport.

349  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—With reference to the statement, during additional estimates hearings of the Finance and Public Administration Committee on 22 February 2008, that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) will not be expanded before 2010 and given that: (a) the MRET has been fully subscribed since 2006 and that there are approximately 7 million surplus Renewable Energy Certificates; (b) in order to drive new investment, industry requires an increase on the 2008 MRET and progressive increases in the MRET to 2020; (c) the renewable energy industry claims that delaying the expansion of the MRET will result in stalling investment; and (d) in 2005, Australian Labor Party state governments agreed to roll in state-based schemes in the event of the national target being expanded:

(1) In line with the Government’s election policy, what are the proposed annual MRETs from 2008 to 2020.

(2) What assessment and analysis has been undertaken on the impacts to the renewable energy industry of expanding the MRET in 2008, compared to 2020.

(3) What analysis has been undertaken on the greenhouse impacts of delaying the expansion of the MRET to 2010.

350  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—Given that: (a) the Government has announced that an emissions trading scheme (ETS) will be implemented by 2010; (b) there is an increased trend in individuals undertaking voluntary action to reduce their greenhouse impacts and that, in the absence of quantification or regulation, these voluntary actions will result in individuals subsidising liable ETS participants to meet the pollution reduction targets; (c) currently Kyoto Gold Standard is the only verified standard of emission reduction; (d) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it is targeting environmental market offers, such as offsets, notwithstanding its claims that the offset market is unregulated and can not be quantified; (e) in the absence of this regulation, only investment in overseas Kyoto Gold Standard projects will result in guaranteed global greenhouse gas emissions reductions; and (f) without regulation and quantification of voluntary action, the liable polluters cap under an ETS can not be adjusted by the level of the voluntary action:

(1) What plans are in progress to separate, regulate and quantify voluntary action markets, such as offsets, and to quantify impacts so that the ETS cap can be adjusted.

(2) What plans are there to introduce consumer protection through regulating offset markets.

351  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—With reference to the consultancy commissioned under the Asia Pacific Partnership (APP) on Clean Development and Climate by the department with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), ‘Costs and Diffusion Barriers to Deployment of Low Emission Technologies for APP’ and given that: (a) EPRI have stated in the terms of reference that it will only consider wind and solar thermal as part of the large-scale renewable energy technologies; (b) of the solar thermal technologies under consideration, only troughs and towers are being considered as these are the dominant solar thermal technologies used in the United States of America; (c) the Australian solar thermal technologies of Big Dish and Linear Fresnel are being specifically excluded, as are geothermal and large-scale photovoltaic technology (like solar systems); and (d) EPRI has also stated that it will only use performance and cost data which is in the public domain, which excludes some Australian developing renewable energy technologies, some of which have received Government funding:

(1) What are the low emissions technologies being considered under the consultancy.

(2) Why are the Australian technologies listed above being excluded from consideration.

(3) Is nuclear power being considered.


 352  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—What plans and progress have been made to implement the Government’s following election commitments to:

(a) invest $1 billion in urban desalination, water recycling and stormwater capture projects that are consistent with environmental best practice and carbon neutral;

(b) invest $250 million towards modernising and repairing existing water systems and infrastructure in our towns and cities;

(c) establish a national target of recycling 30 per cent of wastewater by 2015;

(d) invest $250 million in direct rebates for rainwater tanks and greywater systems in households;

(e) help households with low-interest green loans of $10 000 so that they can more easily install water and energy efficient products, such as rainwater tanks and solar hot water;

(f) work with industry, farmers and community groups to return water to rivers and conserve water in towns and cities; and

(g) bring forward $400 million in spending under the National Plan for Water Security to fast-track improvements in water efficiency and to significantly invest in key water infrastructure projects and address over-allocation.

353  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—

(1) With reference to media reports that, since the commencement of Murray Darling Basin permanent water allocation trading, the cost of permanent water allocations has risen by 2 000 per cent over the past 2 years, what is the trend and the cost increase since the commencement of water trading.

(2) Acknowledging that trading occurs within the confines of the basin cap, to what extent is water trading increasing or decreasing the demand on the river relative to the cap.

(3) What is the incidence of ‘sleeper’ water allocations (that is, water allocations that have been inactive or underutilised coming to market), water theft, evaporation and other losses that increase the demand on the river and that have otherwise not been accounted for.

(4) What compliance measures are being considered to enforce allocations or adjust for unanticipated losses.

(5) (a) Has there been any purchase of permanent water allocations for the environment; (b) what has been the level of these purchases; (c) have they been purchased from the market; (d) were they purchased from willing sellers; and (e) how is it ascertained that these sellers were willing.

(6) What is the trend of water allocations being traded from grazing, farming or horticultural enterprises to managed investment schemes.

(7) What level of trading is occurring between districts or between states.

(8) What coordination is there between state governments.

(9) What is the level of participation of non-water users (speculative investors, state governments or others) within the market.

(10) What level of regulation applies to the water market.

(11) What review has been undertaken of the workings of the water market.


 (12) Has there been any analysis of the financial impact, including the ability to pass on costs to end users by farming type (for example, graziers, dairy farmers, horticulturists).

(13) (a) What assistance to farmers and communities experiencing hardship due to water price increases, reduced water allocations of a loss of productive farming capacity is being progressed; and (b) could this include interest rate relief, income support and/or walk-off and adjustment packages.

(14) What partnership programs, between government and farmers, exist for the transition to lower water use practices, infrastructure improvement or other drought-proofing activities.

(15) If it is commonplace for markets, such as the energy market, to be regulated or administered, has the appointment of a regulator of the water market with responsibility to administer, oversee and intervene in the market to achieve economic and community, social and environmental outcomes and with the power to suspend or restrict trading, prevent profiteering or speculation by non-water users, determine carryover, water banking provisions and emergency water supply measures and make all decisions transparent and in full consultation with state governments and stakeholders been considered.