Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Questions without Notice


2:47 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

There was quite a bit in terms of that question, but I will try to deal, first and foremost, specifically with the questions that Senator Cox posed at the end of her commentary there.

It's incorrect to assert as she did in relation to climate expenditure. The government's investment in relation to achieving net zero, continuing to drive down emissions from the 20 per cent reduction that Australia has achieved to date and continuing to invest in areas of low-emissions technology is real. In this budget alone, building on top of our previous low-emissions strategies and commitments, there is new funding for microgrids in rural and regional communities, to take them off diesel power generation and to give them both cleaner and cheaper electricity for the future.

In this budget alone, there is of course the patent box reforms, which I have already referenced, to ensure that clean energy and low-emissions technologies developed in Australia are actually commercialised in Australia. This is to make sure that we seize the advantage. All of this is building on the fact that there is more money for hydrogen in this budget too, for ensuring that the hydrogen hubs our government is seeking to develop and invest in in that industry also support the development of demand for hydrogen, to ensure that all aspects of the supply chain for hydrogen are supported. So this is very strong.

In terms of the claims which Senator Cox has made about subsidies: this is a common refrain from the Australian Greens. When you dig down, what they're actually talking about are the diesel fuel tax rebates. Those are the subsidies they're talking about. Essentially, they're tax rebates provided to businesses in Australia, to those in the resources sector and to Australian farmers as well. They're tax rebates in relation to their business expenses. That's not an uncommon thing and it's certainly not a subsidy in terms of their operations. These are some of the biggest taxpayers in Australia—some of the biggest contributors to our economy in terms of jobs and revenue—and from that, support for climate action, for example— (Time expired)


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