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Wednesday, 30 October 1996
Page: 4767

Senator PATTERSON —My question is directed to Senator Hill, the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister inform the Senate of the outcomes for the environment of the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum last week—in particular, the historic agreement between Indonesia and Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Senator HILL —Yes, I am very pleased to do that. Late last week, at the third Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum, Australia and Indonesia did in fact take a significant step towards their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development. Both countries signed a statement of intent to cooperate on activities implemented jointly to mitigate greenhouse gases. This means there will be cooperation between Indonesia and Australia in identifying projects which will reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gas emissions and as part of broadly based efforts needed to respond to the challenge of global climate change.

The signing of the statement of intent with Indonesia demonstrates Australia is following through with the commitments it made in Geneva in July 1996 at the conference on climate change. It is the first bilateral agreement signed by Australia and, coincidentally, it is the first such agreement also signed by Indonesia. It is also important that it was signed in the presence of private sector representatives, which reflects the key role the private sector will play in implementing AIJ projects.

Indonesia has signalled the project based cooperative activities to limit greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia will focus on improving forest management, efficient energy use and production and agricultural land management and livestock related emissions. Australian companies have already indicated substantial interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through such means with Indonesia. That will rebuild on the greenhouse challenge program, which so far has been highly successful—that is, the voluntary program undertaken by Australian business in conjunction with governments whereby business agrees to reduce its emissions which, as I remind the Senate, not only provide a good environmental outcome but also provide a good economic outcome.

Finally, I am pleased to say that both Australia and Indonesia have now agreed to set up a joint working group, which will include not only government representatives but also non-government representatives, to look at ways in which the two countries can work together in years ahead on achieving better environmental outcomes in such areas as health, transport, education and agriculture. That is a further signal of a developing environmental relationship which will be for the benefit of not only communities within both countries but also the international community.