Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Bill 2011, Carbon Credits (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011, Australian National Registry of Emissions Units Bill 2011; In Committee
I rise to support the amendments moved by Senator Cormann both on my behalf and on behalf of Senator Colbeck. This is an important matter which was considered by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee inquiry into this legislation. It identified a submission to the inquiry by the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett, who considered the carbon sequestration right provisions in the bill. He said in his correspondence to the committee:
… by a clear negative implication, indicates that the relevant State Minister does not hold an "eligible interest" in State Crown land if that land is not Torrens system land and is subject to a determination of exclusive possession native title.
The committee said:
Premier Barnett was of the opinion the bill 'arbitrarily limits and curtails the rights of the State over State Crown land' and 'the Bill is discriminatory in relation to the State's interests as the State is treated differently from private land owners'.
These are serious concerns, along with so many concerns the opposition has about the approach the government has taken to this legislation. They are and remain unresolved in the approach the government has taken. I urge the government to reconsider and engage in some discussion with the states about this matter. I was chatting to my friend and colleague the shadow minister for COAG this morning who informed me that the next COAG meeting has been deferred yet again. It seems that the government is reluctant to talk to the states about terribly much at all at present for fear of finding disagreeable premiers when it gets to the table or something. But on this matter it is important that the government speak with the states and get it resolved.
I note that there was broad discussion around issues related to native title in the committee report. Even in the majority government comments there was a finding and a recommendation:
… the government address obstacles to indigenous participation in the CFI, including resolving outstanding uncertainties in relation to participation by holders of non-exclusive native title.
Whilst Senator Cormann's amendment may address other matters, I challenge the minister to identify what steps the government has taken since its own senators identified that there were outstanding uncertainties surrounding this legislation and how it will operate in this regard. These are matters that it is important to resolve, and they are important for all stakeholders, be they the Indigenous groups that may see opportunities to participate or state governments that have a not unreasonable expectation that interests in crown land and the like are managed in a certain environment. What is the government doing to provide some certainty in the framework for all of these various stakeholders and to respond to the committee report and the recommendation, which was not a recommendation of coalition or opposition senators but a recommendation of the government's own senators? There were many recommendations about this legislation, and throughout this committee debate I hope that we will hear from the government what steps they have taken to address their own senators' concerns. If they have not taken steps then, of course, it again raises the question of why we are being asked to debate this legislation and finalise this legislation here and now without the full details of the regulations and complementary legislation on the table. Minister, I would again draw your attention to those remarks of Premier Barnett that were identified by the committee and, indeed, to your own government senators' findings in the committee report regarding outstanding uncertainties in this space.