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CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME—TREASURY MODELLING—ORDER FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS

The Chair of the Select Committee on Fuel and Energy (Senator Cormann), pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 375—That the Senate—

 (1) Notes:

  (a) that the Government has not complied with the order of the Senate made on 4 February 2009, ordering the production of certain unpublished information relating to the Department of the Treasury modelling, Australia's Low Pollution Future: The economics of climate change mitigation;

  (b) the Government's statement to the Senate on 11 February 2009 expressing the `belief' that the provision of some of the documents requested would cause substantial commercial harm to organisations that were contracted to assist Treasury;


  (c) that the claim of commercial harm cited by the Government in its refusal to release the required information relates to only part of the information requested and that no explanation was provided as to why all of the other information not covered by the claim of commercial harm should not be provided for scrutiny by the Senate;

  (d) the evidence to the committee in this regard by Professor McKibbin, one of the consultants contracted by Treasury for its modelling, that in his view models developed with public funding should be publicly available;

  (e) that the committee has received correspondence from Monash University, one of the two organisations the government indicated in its statement would be exposed to substantial commercial harm were the requested information to be released, which states that "the University wishes to assist (the Fuel and Energy Committee) in every way possible", and that the University Solicitors would work with the creators of the Monash Multi-Regional Forecasting model "to identify the manner and nature of disclosure that will meet the Committee's needs as far as possible while protecting the University's interests";

  (f) the correspondence received from Purdue University, the other organisation mentioned in the government's statement, which explains that the simple purchase of a licence would avoid any commercial harm;

  (g) the evidence of the WA Department of Treasury and Finance indicating that they had also been unsuccessful in obtaining access to relevant modelling information, which was preventing them from providing proper and informed advice on the economic impact of the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Western Australia to the government in that state; and

  (h) the ongoing concerns expressed by a wide variety of stakeholders about the inadequacy of the Treasury modelling of the impact of the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme;

 (2) Considers that:

  (a) irrespective of the Government's statement in the Senate on 11 February 2009 it is in the public interest that all the underlying information used by Treasury in its modelling be available to help facilitate proper scrutiny by the Senate of the impact of the Government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme;

  (b) models used in the modelling exercise developed using public funding ought to be publicly available; and

  (c) where the public release of information is likely to cause significant commercial harm to an external organisation every effort ought to be made to prevent that harm while not preventing the Senate from fulfilling its proper role to scrutinise the activities and proposals of government;

 (3) Orders that the following information be produced to the Senate Select Committee on Fuel and Energy by noon on Friday 13 March 2009:

  (a) the information referred to in paragraph (b) of the Senate's order for documents of 4 February 2009 relating to the Department of the Treasury modelling, Australia's Low Pollution Future: The economics of climate change mitigation;


  (b) any other information not published and not covered by (a) relating to the Department of the Treasury modelling, including but not limited to:

   (i) any information and documents generated by the government for the purpose of the composition of the information covered by (a),

   (ii) for the two scenarios modelled for the CPRS (CPRS -5 per cent and the CPRS -15 per cent) and the reference scenario, the time series data per annum to 2050 for all states and territories of the following:

 a) Industry growth output in millions of dollars,

 b) Employment numbers,

 c) Gross State Product,

 d) Emissions, and

 e) Household CPI changes,

   (iii) the data from (ii), a), b) and c) broken down by region where applicable, and

   (iv) any substrate data of gross industry output by the above regions.

 (4) That the committee may make the information described in paragraph (3) available to the person contracted by the committee and referred to in paragraph (a) of the Senate's order of 4 February 2009, and any person appointed by the leader of a party in the Senate or an independent senator, duly notified to the committee, to examine that information and report to that senator.

 (5) That the committee, any senator and any other person referred to in paragraph (4) treat the information produced in accordance with paragraph (3)(a) of this order as confidential, and not publish the information to any other person except as authorised by this order.

 (6) That the committee may refer to the information produced to it in accordance with this order and any conclusions reached from it in a report to the Senate, but shall not disclose the information in such a report.

Statement by leave: Senator Milne, by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.