Page 134 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.45): The Greens will not be supporting the motion as proposed by Mr Seselja. I have made it clear that I am willing to work with both sides and that I will support any proposal that is backed up by evidence to show that it is in the long-term best interests of Canberra and Canberrans. So if Mr Seselja can show me any evidence that Canberrans will be better off in the long term by not increasing our uptake of renewable energy then I will be happy, more than happy, to reconsider my position. But if he does happen to find that evidence, he should probably get on the phone to Lord Monckton and some of his colleagues, as well as perhaps the International Energy Agency, because so far no-one anywhere in the world has managed to come up with anything even remotely credible in that regard.

I will go briefly through each of the points in the motion, starting with the claims about the parliamentary agreement. Contrary to the assertions in the motion, the agreement does in fact contain a range of measures that will substantially reduce costs for Canberrans, while at the same time improving their quality of living. No-one regrets their time with their family and friends, and no-one enjoys living in a freezing cold house all winter long. But they do want good-quality government services, and I do not think a single Canberran would choose a dollar in the bank today if it locked in a reduction in their quality of life over the next 20 years. It does not reduce the cost of living if you reduce the price this week slightly but make it twice as expensive next fortnight.

The issues that Mr Seselja talks about when he talks about the costs of living are not black and white. They are complex, long-term issues that involve real planning and difficult decisions, not thought bubbles and slogans. Rather than some very short-term token gesture that may make a marginal difference in the next week or even year, the measures in the agreement actually address the real issues that need to be dealt with over the coming decades.

I notice that Mr Seselja in his speech referenced the carbon price in a rather derogatory way. I am sure he has seen the Essential Media Communications polling this week, and it must really hurt to find that the carbon tax package is more popular than the federal Leader of the Opposition. I think that must be a difficult fact to absorb.

When it comes to electricity, the agreement contains a real plan to address the long-term costs of electricity, whilst doing our fair share to address climate change. If Mr Seselja is really interested in the cost impact of the policy, I am sure he can tell us what the price forecasts are for renewable energy over the next 20 years and the corresponding forecasts for the price of coal-fired power. He might also be keen to tell us about the many thousands of coal-fired power producers who are keen to sign 20-year agreements locking in a fixed price for the power they produce.

Of course, there is not a single coal-fired generator anywhere in the world who would do that but there are thousands of everyday Canberrans who are willingly paying the up-front costs of a solar installation, giving us a guaranteed energy supply at a guaranteed price for the next 20 years, and that does not even begin to get to the issue of the fact that all of those ageing coal-fired power stations in Australia will need

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