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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 91

Senator MILNE (9:27 PM) —Firstly, in terms of the monitoring, it is a fixed sum without a time limit. For how many years would you expect the monitoring to be able to be financed? Is this for the 15 years or indefinitely? For how long are we paying to monitor the site?

Secondly, I want it very strongly on the record that, unlike the government and the opposition, the Greens do believe there will be leakage and damage from these sites, that there will be a need to make good, and we totally oppose the notion that the government take liability. It will be joy to the ears of the companies to know that, after their 15 years, it is the community—it is not the government; it is the community—who will bear the liability. They will bear it not only financially but in terms of the climate. That is something that we have never dealt with before. It is a mindset entirely different from anything we have had to bear before. It has always been in monetary terms or regional or localised environmental terms before; it is now the climate—and the planet—that will suffer the consequences.

I find it naive in the extreme of anyone to stand here today, with what is a purely experimental technology and in the absence of enough safe storage sites for the volumes concerned, and say emphatically that it will not happen. I am going to stand here emphatically and say that it will, and it will happen sooner than you think. When it does then a lot of people are going to look back and realise just how naive and desperate people were to see a future for the coal industry that they were not prepared to put in place the financial mechanism for the long-term monitoring—but, more particularly, for the remediation and repair of the site—and to make good the carbon costs associated with meeting our target when it does happen, because the costs will either be monetary or the costs will be in an increased, more stringent cap, which means that the costs will be spread across the entire community, climate wise and financially.

I am disappointed that neither the opposition nor the government will support the need for additional security for future liabilities, but it is on the record that it is only the Greens who recognise the purely experimental and fanciful nature of this technology.