Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013


Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013; Second Reading

8:23 pm

Photo of Nova PerisNova Peris (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I will cut right to the chase here. I rise to speak on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013. Mr Abbott and the coalition government are scrapping the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for one reason: they do not believe in clean energy. They do not believe in climate change and therefore they do not believe that clean energy is required. But this government is out of touch. Leading scientists and members of the Australian public know and understand that carbon pollution is real and changing our weather, our landscapes and our future. This is why I rise before you today to discuss, inform and advise people of the benefits of having corporations such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The coalition will continue to come up with a range of ridiculous reasons as to why the Clean Energy Finance Corporation should be discontinued, but it all really comes back to the fact that the Abbott government does not believe in clean energy. The corporation was set up by the previous government to invest up to $10 billion in renewable energy products and to promote private sector investment. It was off to an extremely positive start with over $500 million invested in projects to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The $10 billion served to leverage private sector investments into projects.

According to the chair of the corporation, Jillian Broadbent, the corporation would have been in a position to return $200 million to the government once the $10 billion was invested. Economically speaking, this was a very impressive start and confirmed what leading countries around the world have found—that the future of economic investments includes clean energy.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation operates like a traditional financing business. It works collaboratively with co-financing organisations, project advocates and stakeholders to seek ways to secure finance to grow and further develop the clean energy industry. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation adds a great deal of value and effort to tackle climate change in Australia and around the globe by reducing carbon pollution, and looking at ways of establishing and improving clean energy production to ensure that our carbon footprint is reduced and the global environment is preserved for future generations. By investing in projects, the corporation works differently than by simply providing grants. Grants can be very worthwhile but they are essentially a handout to kick-start a supported project as opposed to an investment in a project and an investment for our future.

The CEFC does not engage in a risky loan. It helps to develop the relatively new clean energy investment sector. This corporation provides and develops financing solutions across the clean energy sector connecting renewable energy, low-emission technology and energy efficiency. It seeks to assemble and leverage funding for development in the commercialisation sector and the development of clean energy technology and research necessary to assist Australia to transition from a carbon reliant nation to a clean energy nation.

The Abbott government clearly does not believe the science of climate change and, if it did, the government would realise that reducing carbon emission targets simply cannot be met without increasing investment in clean and renewable energy technology as a progressive view. Since created by the Labor government as part of the Clean Energy Future package, the CEFC has committed $536 million of its own budget while mobilising over $1.5 billion in private capital—a success in everyone's terms.

The corporation's annual report for the last financial year says every dollar of investment has attracted $2.90 in private sector spending. This is an achievement beyond what it set out to do. The projects that the corporation is involved in are wide and varied, big and small. They cover three main areas—that is, renewable energy, low emissions and energy efficiency. Some of the projects that the corporation is involved in include a very large scale solar-powered project to power approximately 15,000 homes, a wind energy project to power over 100,000 homes, projects converting from biogas to natural gas, so cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 44,000 tonnes per year, and smaller projects like the installation of low-emission street lights.

So many of the companies and organisations involved are quite varied, ranging from ice-cream makers, wine producers, beef processors, pork exporters, rugby league clubs, hotels, many retailers, tomato growers and gardening suppliers just to name a few. No industry was too big or too small. Companies were both saving money and cutting emissions.

I know that the Australian Agricultural Company is using the scheme to install solar photovoltaic units in 15 sites across Queensland, reducing its grid energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by around 30 per cent. That company is currently building an abattoir near Darwin and I hope it is able to have similar energy savings systems in place in that facility. This bill will stop projects like that occurring.

This bill tilts the weight back in favour of the coal industry instead of renewable energy and that is what the Abbott government wants. This bill will cost companies money and make it harder for them to cut their emissions—but, most of all, our environment will suffer. There are 14 similar organisations that exist throughout America, Europe and Asia but, sadly, not in Australia if the Abbott government gets its way.

These countries will not only achieve greater success in cutting greenhouse gas emissions; their industries will also be more cost effective. I commend the fact that the corporation will continue to invest in worthwhile projects until such a sad time as it is scrapped by the Abbott government. On this side of the house we hope that day does not come.

In conclusion, the CEFC is working—it has not only met its targets, it has exceeded them. But, because it is about supporting clean energy, the coalition wants to scrap it based on nothing more than pure political pandering. The government has decided to ignore the many people who have clearly outlined that the corporation is working. This side of the house supports clean energy, and hence we cannot support this bill to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. We understand that emission reduction targets simply cannot be met without increased investment in clean and renewable energy technologies.


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