Thursday, 11 February 2010
Questions without Notice
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
My question is to the Prime Minister. Given the minister for the environment’s bungled handling of Japanese whaling, $850 million blow out in the Solar Homes program, collapsed Green Loans scheme and, most damning of all, his failure to heed credible warnings and take timely action to protect lives during the rollout of his home insulation program, does the Prime Minister still have confidence in the minister for the environment?
Both myself and the government have full confidence in the minister for the environment. The reason we have full confidence in the minister is that he has been a first-class minister. I draw the honourable member’s attention to the statement which has been made available to the House by the minister and his response to the various matters that have been raised in this debate. I would again ask the Leader of the Opposition, who is notorious for not looking at the detail of things, to actually examine the detail of that before he engages in a wider debate.
The Leader of the Opposition’s broader question goes to the performance of the minister for the environment. Can I say that why I have said that the minister for the environment has been a first-class minister for the environment is as follows: this minister has been out there engaged in ensuring that Australian working families have assistance with things like solar panels on their roofs to make a real difference in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy home prices—120,000 solar panels have gone out in two years or more. I would contrast that with the 12 years of when those opposite were in power, when they paid a total of 10,500 rebates—10,500 solar rebates in their 12 years; in the period we have been in office, 120,000 solar panels. Mr Speaker, if you want a clear contrast of the performance of the government versus the opposition on a clear program which aims to assist working families put solar panels on their roofs, that is No. 1.
I draw the honourable member’s attention to what the minister has done in relation to the National Solar Schools Program as well: 2,400 Australian schools have already been approved and over 850 installations already confirmed. The minister has also been engaged in the proper regulation and dissemination of regulatory material concerning incandescent light bulbs, the proper energy rating of energy appliances and the practical matters which fall within the province of a minister for the environment.
What we have learnt so far about the Leader of the Opposition is that the Leader of the Opposition asks a question like this not in order to obtain an answer. The Leader of the Opposition has not bothered to read the full statement which has been provided by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts before question time; the Leader of the Opposition has asked his question because it is Thursday, it is question number 7 and it is time for the censure motion.
It does not matter what day of the week it is, we warm up for the censure motion. So we see the forensic attack by the member for Flinders: questions one, two, three, four, five, six; the responses to each of those given in detail by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts; no progress being made; and so we wheel in the Leader of the Opposition to up the ante a bit and add some theatre. I expect the Leader of the Opposition will now move his motion, or whatever he is going to move. Can I say firstly in response to the Leader of the Opposition’s question: the minister, in his statement earlier to the House, goes through in detail the issues concerning this particular matter. Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition asked a question about his performance as minister more generally, and I have responded to the minister’s performance in general.
I conclude this answer where I began: I and the government have full confidence in the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.