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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 6 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1997..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

To reach these targets, action in the next 10 years is crucial. Renewable energy is going to be an important part of the solution if we are going to take real steps to address climate change. For too long governments at all levels have continued to support and subsidise fossil fuel industries.

The Greens and others concerned about climate change want to see targets to substantially lower the emissions coming from the ACT in the near future. The per capita consumption of electricity is on average 40 per cent higher in Canberra than in the rest of Australia. Our immediate priority is to reduce our electricity use to the national average in the very near future, and then we can work with the rest of the country to further reduce our consumption.

A renewable energy feed-in tariff is long overdue in Australia. South Australia has recently approved such a tariff and Victoria has a standard feed-in tariff with a premium for renewables to start next year. The ACT is the next cab off the rank. It will help reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and generate local employment and local business development.

This is not the most efficient way to create large-scale renewable energy for the ACT, but this legislation provides a framework for the development of further renewable industries. The government needs to keep energy sources open to ensure emerging technologies over the next five years do not make this scheme redundant. A national energy trading scheme will bring about some renewable energy investment but not as fast as schemes like feed-in tariffs, which have been successful in 41 jurisdictions overseas. The Stern review found:

Comparisons between deployment support through tradable quotas (ie. energy trading system) and feed-in-tariff price support suggests that feed-in mechanisms achieve larger deployment at lower costs.

The feed-in tariff was announced in the government's climate change strategy. It is a shame that it took a private member, Mr Gentleman, to draft it and, I understand, champion it through caucus and cabinet. Where would the government have got to on feed-in tariffs if Mr Gentleman had not done this? I am sure that if the Greens had proposed it the government would not have supported it.

In short, the Greens do support the bill and we congratulate Mr Gentleman on his perseverance, but we would like to discuss the detail of the model. Given the way that energy reform is heading around the country—that is, harmonisation of all aspects—it is very important we get our model right here in the ACT. Here is an opportunity for our model, which will be better than South Australia's and Victoria's, to be replicated across the country.

A response to opponents of renewable support laws is that energy markets are already affected by a complex mix of laws, policies, programs, and subsidies. A German counterargument is that renewable energy laws are not a subsidy but rather a price-correction measure to ensure application of the polluter-pays principle. Greenhouse gas emissions reduction overall is a bigger issue than we have time for today. We are still waiting for the ACT government's energy policy which will play a large part in the implementation of the climate change strategy.


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