Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Consideration of Legislation
- That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and 10 related bills, allowing them to be considered during this period of sittings.
Can I outline that the bills implement the government’s commitment to establish a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. They provide for the establishment of—
a scheme regulator and a registry, and address such matters as emissions coverage of the scheme, emission caps and the definition of liable entities. Of course the opposition interject, but this is a matter requesting exemption from the cut-off. The bills are required to address the urgent need to respond to climate change through the CPRS. The bills give effect to the outcomes of negotiations that were agreed by the government and the opposition back in November 2009. The provisions that give effect to these agreed outcomes back in November 2009 were considered in detail by the Senate Committee of the Whole in November and December, as we recall.
The CPRS is the key mechanism for meeting emissions reduction targets that have the support of both the government and the opposition and are key targets. Uncertainty created by a delay in the passage of the bills does raise risks for business regarding the future costs of climate change action and is hampering investments that enable the transformation to a low carbon pollution economy.
I note that the opposition now seem to carp and interject. Nonetheless, some elements of the CPRS such as the crediting of carbon sequestration by reafforestation projects commence on 1 July 2010, and passage will give certainty to both farmers and businesses who intend to participate. These are the reasons we require urgency for these bills. Passage of the legislation will also give business time to prepare for the CPRS and associated regulation.
The introduction and passage of these bills in the same sitting will not limit consideration by the Senate. The Senate has obviously taken a view to discuss and debate these bills at length. There has been ample opportunity for proper consideration of these bills, consistent with the government’s longstanding commitment to ensuring adequate scrutiny and debate of proposed legislation. Those are the reasons outlined for why the bills require exemption from the cut-off and I ask the Senate to agree to the motion.
The coalition will not be supporting the exemption from the cut-off under standing order 111. The government is asking us to change procedure. We do not want to change procedure on this occasion. This is the third attempt to introduce this suite of bills. The government has introduced these bills in the past. The Senate has rejected them. The government now wants to waste time introducing these bills for a third time here when there is no case put that these bills need to be exempt from the cut-off which is a normal position in this place. The government has not made a case.
The minister has outlined that these bills have a commencement in 2011—not this year, but 2011. So there is no urgent need demonstrated for these bills to be brought into this session when the normal Senate procedure under the standing orders would be for these bills to be considered in the next session of parliament after being introduced in this session. It is clear that the bills do not have majority support in this place and I would anticipate that being the case again, so there is no urgency. I think the government is just trying to waste time and maybe make a political point out of these bills. Let the Senate do its work in its normal manner.
In closing the debate can I say that the point the opposition make is that they do not see that failure to deal with the bills will result in continued uncertainty for business and further delay in new investments that will lead to a low-pollution economy. These bills were agreed to by the opposition in November. They have been through a committee debate that went for many, many days. The need to act on climate change remains pressing and the CPRS remains the lowest cost way to tackle climate change. Passage of these bills will ensure Australia caps carbon pollution for the first time. The CPRS will make polluters pay and use the money raised from polluters to support families. Failure to pass these bills will make the challenge of tackling climate change more difficult.
That the motion (Senator Ludwig’s) be agreed to.
I am glad that Senator Carr is so keen for me to make a statement. Maybe he would like to keep quiet and actually listen for once, rather than speaking over someone—as a fellow Victorian. I was not able to get down here before the vote. But, on that last vote, I want to share the reasons why I did not support the motion to exempt the bills from the cut-off. Frankly, in Australia support for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is dropping by the day. There is no need to rush this through parliament, bypassing simple processes. It is an absolute joke. That is the reason why I did not support the cut-off motion—because it would have meant rushing through this legislation when there is absolutely no rush at all.