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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7827

Senator RICE (Victoria) (10:59): The Greens will be supporting these opposition amendments, which attempt to give the required parliamentary oversight that is essential and currently not included in this legislation. This legislation gives far too much power to, and concentrates that power in the hands of, the ministers. The minister talked about using the example of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation legislation. If you read the CEFC legislation, it sets out explicitly—there is clause after clause after clause—the restrictions on what money can be lent and what types of infrastructure are eligible for funding under the CEFC and what is not. That level of detail is completely lacking in this legislation.

So the Labor amendments, if passed, would give that extra level of parliamentary oversight that is necessary. Alternatively, I think you'd have to go back to the drawing board and set out in much greater detail what it's appropriate for these levels of loans to be spent on. The fact that there is nothing regarding hardship requirements included in the legislation and that there is no definition of what a class of farm business loans is means it is open slather for the ministers to be able to make decisions on their own. The powers for them to direct the board are really setting up a very undemocratic and unaccountable institution. These Labor amendments, which we are supportive of, go some way to having a level of parliamentary oversight that is absolutely required.