Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016; Consideration in Detail
Neither of them has answered the question, and it is clear why: they have been caught out. What the shadow Treasurer just spoke about was the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. That is not what my question was about. What I asked about was in the supplementary explanatory memorandum about the Clean Energy Innovation Fund. If there is confusion about this, let me clarify it. Speaking about the Clean Energy Innovation Fund—and I am reading from a transcript—the Prime Minister, on 23 March 2016, said:
… we are establishing a new $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund and what that is going to do is every year invest $100 million in the smartest, most cutting edge Australian clean-energy technologies and businesses to ensure that we not only drive jobs and innovation in Australia but also play our part in cracking the very hard problems, the challenging technical difficulties that we face in terms of reducing emissions.
So it was a key announcement that there was going to be $1 billion for this.
As we know, the outcome of the negotiations that took place about ARENA is that half a billion dollars is coming out but $800 million is staying. The question is: where is that $800 million coming from? No sooner was the ink dry on that deal than the finance minister and the minister for energy went out and said the $800 million is going to come from elsewhere in the clean energy bucket. Labor then went out and said: 'No, that's not our understanding of the negotiations.' Again, so that there can be no confusion, let's be clear what Labor is saying. In The Guardian today, Labor is reported as saying: 'The government's Clean Energy Innovation Fund was never the subject of negotiations. The discussion was progressed on the basis that any save that fell short of what we needed would be made up by some other area'—not clean energy, some other area—'and that is exactly what happened.'
So no cut to the Clean Energy Innovation Fund is needed—that is what Labor is saying. So Labor and the government have been caught out, because there will be a cut to the Clean Energy Innovation Fund to make up for the so-called saving of ARENA. The money that is being left in the ARENA bucket is, according to the government's explanatory memorandum, coming from somewhere else. The government said in the explanatory memorandum: 'The government has agreed to restore funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, ARENA, of $800 million over the five years to 2021-22 and reduce by a commensurate amount the capital allocated to the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.'