that, therefore, the Opposition would support the legislation and in affect guarantee its passage through Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition,
Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, commended Mr Bowen and Mr Morrison for reaching agreement. Mr Abbott stated that “I thank the government and the Prime
Minister for finally, after four long years, accepting one critical element in the opposition’s policy to stop the boats. This has been a long, long time coming but if something is worth doing it is worth doing belatedly. It is worth this Parliament taking the time to pass the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore
Processing and Other Measures) Bill and to ensure that offshore processing at Nauru and Manus Island, which should never ever have been abolished, can begin again”. Mr Abbott noted that “as a result of the climb-down by the government, by the Prime Minister and by the minister, the legislation that this parliament is
THIRD READING: AUSTRALIA
Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will manage a $10 billion fund dedicated to investing in clean energy. The Minister for Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, Hon. Greg Combet, MP, stated that “the Gillard government has passed historic reforms to build a clean energy future which will strengthen the economy and protect our environment. The CEFC is a key part of the government’s plan. It will encourage private investment and help overcome financial barriers to commercialising and deploying cleaner energy technologies”. Mr Combet noted that the transformation of the economy will be most
notable in the electricity sector. He commented that “it is expected that the sector will over time move away from coal fired generation to more renewable generation, with renewable energy growing from 10 per cent to 40 per cent of the generation mix by 2050, and conventional coal fired generation falling from 70 per cent to below 10 per cent; however, this will be a gradual transition”. The Minister stated that the CEFC “will facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector to support this transformation, removing barriers that would otherwise prevent the financing of projects”. The CEFC will receive $2 billion per year for five years from 2013-14
through the special appropriation in the legislation. The corporation will also be provided with three years of funding through the annual appropriation bills to assist with the establishment and operations of the corporation. The corporation is expected to be self-sustaining once mature. The CEFC will be managed by an independent board comprised of experts in areas such as banking, finance, economics and energy markets to ensure a robust and rigorous organization. The CEFC is an extension on the government’s carbon pricing legislation.
As a result, the opposition were opposed to the CEFC legislation. During debate in the Senate, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Sen. Mathias Cormann, stated that the CEFC legislation “is part of the Labor-Greens carbon tax—the carbon tax we were promised before the last election that we would not get; about which the Prime Minister said five days before the last election there would not be a carbon tax under the government she led”. Senator Cormann noted that “now we have a massive carbon tax which will push up the cost of everything—electricity, the cost of living and the cost of doing business in Australia—which will make us less competitive internationally, which will shift jobs and emissions overseas, which will lead to lower real wages and which will have a $1 trillion impact on our economy between now and 2050”. Sen. Cormann described the CEFC as a $10 billion slush fund. He commented that “this is effectively another $10 billion in expenditure from a
government that have already delivered $174 billion worth of accumulated deficits and $145 billion worth of government net debts, and this is a government which in part because of this bill before the Senate today will have to seek the approval of the parliament to yet again lift the debt ceiling—on this occasion to $300 billion”. Senator Cormann noted that the Coalition was opposed to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation “because it is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. There are precedents around Australia, example after example around Australia, which demonstrate very clearly why this sort of approach of governments picking winners—putting billions and billions of dollars taxpayers’ money on the line, pursuing ventures that essentially only have a very small likelihood of success—is a very bad idea”. He noted that “the government have never come across a bad idea that they did not want to fully embrace. When the government come across a bad idea which is likely to cause the loss of taxpayers’ dollars, they fully embrace it and try to make it law”. Senator Cormann commented that “we know that it is the Greens who have really been the power behind all of these bad initiatives that have come out of the government around carbon pricing and the clean energy slush fund and the like”. The leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, commented
that “we are living in an era of revolution in energy and, contrary to the remarks of Senator Cormann, those who get ahead of the game are the ones who will profit most”. Senator Milne reminded the Senate that “in the Australian context, the Australian Greens have said clearly that global warming is a catastrophic circumstance that will lead to enormous costs to us as we proceed through this century”. She stated that “the opportunity is to transform the economy as quickly as possible to sever the link between economic growth and adverse environmental impact and resource depletion. It is time now to look at a future based on an investment in education and training and innovation, at a future which is transformative, that transforms Australia so that we power ourselves with renewable energy”. Senator Milne stated that “Senator Cormann talked about a so-called
slush fund and about billions thrown out of the door. There is $7.2 billion thrown out of the door every year in Australia and Senator Cormann is a big supporter of that. They are fossil fuel subsidies: $7.2 billion a year thrown out the door in order to keep the coal-fired generators and the gas industry and so on operating”. She concluded that the Greens want to “depoliticise the provision of commercialisation support for new renewable energy and clean energy technology”. Senator Milne noted that the CEFC will be a statutory authority independent of government.
The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three | 225
now debating is effectively the opposition’s Bill, and that is why the opposition enthusiastically supports it”. Mr Abbott commented that “after 22,000 illegal boat arrivals, after almost 400 illegal boats, after tragically almost 1,000 deaths at sea and after $4.7 billion has been blown because of the government’s