Thursday, 26 November 2015
Questions without Notice
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science: ICT Sustainability Plan
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Sinodinos. I refer the minister to the report in The Australian on 23 November, which stated that up to 6,000 jobs are at risk at Australian Paper in Maryvale, the Latrobe Valley's biggest private employer, and across the supply chain. Australian Paper has already invested $90 million at its Maryvale plant, including a $9.5 million grant from the department of industry. What role did the department have in the government's decision to abandon its plan to buy 100 per cent recycled paper?
Mr President, I rise to ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for taking that on notice. I would ask you this: can you confirm that the government's scrapping of the ICT Sustainability Plan is just another job-destroying exercise under the ideological guise of deregulation?
No, I cannot confirm that because I think deregulation, intelligently applied, can promote job growth and productivity. The new Assistant Minister for Productivity, Dr Hendy, has been given the explicit task of upgrading our efforts on deregulation to link them to measures which explicitly promote productivity. In other words, deregulation is not just about compliance and ticking boxes in regulatory impact statements or removing pages of legislation; it is also about actions which make it easier in order to promote productivity.
Mr President, I ask a final supplementary question. The Prime Minister will attend the Paris climate change conference to argue that Australia has responsible environmental strategies. Why then does the government refuse to extend the ICT Sustainability Plan and ensure that Australian government departments and agencies purchase 100 per cent recycled Australian paper?
I can confirm that we will be going to Paris with a very important set of targets. We will be reducing emissions over the period after 2020 by between 26 and 28 per cent, building on the success we will have in meeting our target up to 2020 of five per cent. In addressing the target of 26 to 28 per cent, of course we will look at further measures which help to promote energy efficiency and greater energy productivity. In that context, the point that the senator raises I will examine further to see whether it is relevant. But I do come back to where we started with the first question, and that is to make the point that there are limits on what national governments can do, as they are subject to international agreements, to interfere with potential procurement decisions. But I will get you further information.