Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016; Consideration in Detail
Perhaps I can assist the House. Earlier this morning we asked the Treasurer's office for a copy of the supplementary explanatory memorandum. The document that we got from the Treasurer's office had at the end of the sentence: 'and reduce by a commensurate amount the capital allocated to the Clean Energy Innovation Fund'. And that is what the finance minister said yesterday. And that is what the energy minister said yesterday as well. That is the document that we got.
Then, during the course of this debate—because we caught them out—they come in here with a revised supplementary explanatory memorandum which takes that sentence out. In the course of the last two hours this morning, because they have been caught out—in that they are robbing Peter to pay Paul: they are taking $800 million from the Clean Energy Innovation Fund—they have taken it out of the explanatory memorandum. This is why this dirty deal must not be rushed through. If we can find that out in the space of a couple of hours—if the Treasurer can go from telling us, 'I am raiding $800 million from this clean energy fund to give it over here,' to 'No, I am not willing to tell the House that'—then what else are we going to find, the more we look into this deal?
This is what happens when you do dirty deals—to cut renewable energy, and to cut support to low-income earners—and then front up to parliament, without a public hearing, and say, 'push them through'. Then, when you ask the simple question, 'Where is the money going to come from?' they will not tell you. And then when you ask another simple question, 'Tell us over what years the money is going to come,' they won't tell you that either. This is a shameful process, and I am astounded that the Labor Party is signing up to it. This Labor Party is prepared to sign up to half a billion dollars of cuts to renewable energy, while the government is out there publicly telling people it is going to come from another renewable energy pot—and the government cannot even tell us over what years the cut is going to come. They are saying, 'Yes; let's push it through without the proper scrutiny that a bill like this deserves'.
The Treasurer treats this place with contempt and will not even get up and say when the cuts are going to fall—a very, very simple question—or where the money is going to come from. The last couple of hours should give everyone in this place and everyone who is watching what is going on here very great cause for concern—because if this is how we are going to work over the next couple of years; if we are going to try and secure this country's revenue base by doing afternoon deals that the parliament does not have an opportunity to scrutinise, where stories change during the course of a morning about where money is going to come from or where the cuts are going to fall, then this country is in a very dire place indeed.
What else is in this bill? What, if we had more than 20 minutes to examine it, would we find? If the last couple of hours tell you anything, it is that this government is intent on trying to balance the budget off the back of renewable energy, and off the back of people who have got fewer means and less money than others. The job of an opposition should be to oppose and scrutinise. It should not be to wave through—in a dodgy process that can be unpicked and unstitched within an hour or two—a bill that cuts half a billion dollars from a signature renewable energy agency, and possibly does a lot more as well. The Treasurer is not even willing to get his story straight. The shadow Treasurer gets up and talks about the CEFC. I am not talking about the CEFC. I am talking about the Prime Minister's signature project, the Clean Energy Innovation Fund. Is it going to be cut by $800 million? The Treasurer told us yes this morning in an explanatory memorandum. They revised it on the run when they were caught out. Who knows what the real story is! What we do know is that dirty deals are being done that will have an impact on clean energy, that will have an impact on people in this country, that will cut money for students and that will cut money for research and development. I, for one, am not willing to wave it through and give it a blank cheque, and I wish the opposition would oppose. You know the clue to your job title is in the word 'oppose'. Scrutinise. Do not let this mob get away with cutting half billion dollars from renewables when you do not know where it is going to come from. Do not let this mob get away with cutting money from research and development. Do not let this mob get away with cutting money from students and aged care. You railed against it for a couple of years when it was done under Tony Abbott. Continue to stand up to it now and we can find a better way to secure the revenue that this country needs. What is happening this morning shames everyone in this place and should shame every Australian who is concerned about good budget management, because good budget management would be done transparently, and you would take the money off those who could afford it instead of taking the axe to clean energy. (Time expired)