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Transcript of doorstop: Sydney: 15 December 2011: Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund launch



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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism

Doorstop - Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Launch 15 December 2011

Sydney

E&OE

FERGUSON: The venture capital fund is basically about the Government putting $100 million on the table, which will be met with $100 million from the private sector. Basically they’ll be working with the renewables sector to look at how they attend to issues of risk but also help fund some investment in renewable energy, research and development and innovation and in doing so create solutions to our climate change debate

QUESTION: (inaudible)

FERGUSON: We’ve basically gone through a detailed process of assessment. The conclusion of the independent assessment panel is that the Southern Cross Venture Capital Fund was the best proposal in return for our capacity to bring double the amount of money we had on the table and also with proper attention to their capacity and commitments over time. So in essence those who made that decision and made the appropriate recommendations to me are of a view that this is the strongest way for us to go forward for what is, I suppose, a new venture for the Australian community.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

FERGUSON: Well it’s for the venture capital fund to make those assessments. There is no direction, there’s no suggestion that they should favour one form of clean energy over another or to segment the industry and decide “x” percentage has to be renewable as against ocean power, whatever. It’s about which proposal is put in front of the fund and whether it stacks up.

QUESTION: What about nuclear?

FERGUSON: Nuclear is a proven form of clean energy, we don’t’ have to invest in R&D, you can buy it off the shelf.

QUESTION: Because the communications and electrical plumbing union have criticised your preference towards nuclear. What do you have to say about that?

FERGUSON: Oh, ah the CEPU is entitled to its view, it’s a view that goes back to the 1970s. The world has changed but the CEPU hasn’t. QUESTION: Martin, the remuneration tribunal is meeting today, how do you feel about a possible pay rise?

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FERGUSON: I have got no idea what those people determine and nor do I pay it a lot of attention to it. I’ll wait and see what comes out of it and they’ll have to explain the recommendations because they’re an independent tribunal. The Government does not make these decisions, and they’ll have to be accountable for their decisions.

QUESTION: Would you personally welcome a pay rise?

FERGUSON: I actually think my ministerial salary is pretty good to be honest with you.

QUESTION: And, then again yesterday we had Victoria and New South Wales come together to undertake work about harmonising energy efficiency. Is that something you welcome?

FERGUSON: I am very welcoming of the decision of the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to do some work together, at having a hard look at the energy efficiency programs that exist. Their decision is very much in accord with the recommendations in the Energy White Paper. It’s a good start, something that the Commonwealth Government will seek to work with all state and territory governments over the months ahead. I suppose it’s about getting an energy efficiency program in place that’s at the lowest possible cost to consumers because the last thing you want to do, if you can avoid it, is put any more cost on consumers other than what’s occurring currently in the system.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

FERGUSON: Obviously that’s being handled by my department in association with the Flagships program advisers. If I remember correctly the process of consultation with the two Flagships selected concludes today. The Department’s responsibility is to assess the outcomes of those negotiations and discussions and in due course they’ll bring forward a report to me, and on the basis of that report I’ll assess where the program is up to.

QUESTION: And on other issues, the Australian newspaper is today suggesting your allegiance has shifted from Gillard to Rudd. What’s your thoughts on that?

FERGUSON: I am loyal to the Labor Party. I’ve got a job as Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, which is a pretty demanding workload and I have a very professional relationship with both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and it’s about just continuing to do the job that I have responsibility for. I’m not going to respond to press speculation.

QUESTION: Talking about loyalty to the Labor Party, and the NSW Government has welcomed your comments about John Robertson. (inaudible) Can you clarify what you meant by those?

FERGUSON: I think that’s a fair comment. The NSW Labor Party actually got it wrong. In terms of the electricity sector they should have supported Morris Iemma, as should Barry O’Farrell as the Leader of the Opposition at the time, in terms of Morris Iemma’s determination to effect change to privatise the electricity system and I might say to invest the proceeds of that privatisation in what is a very demanding situation in this state - improvements in infrastructure. Because in some ways Sydney is gridlocked. If people like Robertson, and I might say the then Leader of the Opposition, Barry O’Farrell, had supported Morris Iemma at the time, the return to taxpayers on the then privatisation proposal would have been far higher than what they got in the lead up to the last election. And what Barry O’Farrell as Premier will get for the privatisation of electricity generation capacity.

So I would say the result of lax leadership by some in the Labor Party at the time and also the Opposition means that it is the New South Wales taxpayers that have been duded. The job now is to complete the process that has commenced, it is not as good as the original proposal by Morris Iemma, and to try and make sure that out of that we get some investment in real hard infrastructure in Sydney, which is about overcoming the gridlock that exists in the transport system in Sydney.

- ENDS

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