The environment is a matter of public importance

Regarding the Coalition's Emissions Reduction Fund: "There will be no requirement to reduce emissions. There will be no cap on emissions. There will be payments to polluters. Why would the so-called Minister for the Environment want to introduce such a policy when the obvious difficulties with it are there for everybody to see?"

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (16:04):  What a pleasure it is to rise to speak about the environment in this place. I see that the purported environment minister is in the House with us today. Wouldn't it be nice if the purported environment minister ever got up and spoke about the environment in question time. Wouldn't it be nice if in question time there was ever a question about the environment to the so-called environment minister, but there is not. As I have said before, one day the purported environment minister will come in here and talk about the environment, and I am pretty sure that everyone will fall over in shock because here we have an environment minister who would rather speak about anything else but the environment. We have an environment minister who has been unable to deliver the solar policy that he spoke about, and we have an environment minister who is making some questionable decisions when it comes to climate policy.

Let's have a think about the Emissions Reduction Fund—what an amazingly ridiculous policy we are talking about. Here is a fund where polluters will be paid to pollute, where there will be no cap on pollution—

Mr Hutchinson interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott):  Order! The member for Lyons is grossly disorderly.

Ms BUTLER:  and where there will be no requirement on any single person or any single company. There will be no requirement to reduce emissions. There will be no cap on emissions. There will be payments to polluters.

Why would the so-called Minister for the Environment want to introduce such a policy when the obvious difficulties with it are there for everybody to see? For example, how on earth could we be persuaded of the additionality of the measures that will be brought in and funded under the ERF? How on earth could we be persuaded that that is good value for taxpayer money? How on earth could we be persuaded that the same companies that are benefiting from the ERF would not be taking the same mitigation actions as they otherwise would be were it not for the taxpayer subsidising them?

Of course, the biggest question of all when it comes to the Emissions Reduction Fund is: why replace the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a spectacularly successful policy, with an Emissions Reduction Fund where taxpayers pay polluters? Why not keep the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a commercial lending operation where moneys are lent to people who want to take action to mitigate pollution and want to reduce emissions? And it is a win-win because the Clean Energy Finance Corporation runs at a profit. Money is made by lending money on appropriate terms to companies that want to reduce pollution and mitigate emissions.

Why not have a Clean Energy Finance Corporation instead of this ridiculous ERF policy that has been universally panned? No-one in this place and no-one outside this place thinks that this government has any credibility whatsoever when it comes to the environment. We have seen the lack of credibility. You just have to look as recently as yesterday when the bizarre application to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO was quite properly knocked backed by the World Heritage Committee.

Mr Hutchinson:  Have you ever been to Tasmania?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  The member for Lyons!

Ms BUTLER:  Yes, I have been to Tasmania. And, like the previous Labor speaker, I am from the bush as well.

Mr Pasin:  Have you ever met a timber worker?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  The member for Barker!

Ms BUTLER:  I am from up north. I know all about the environment, and that is why I am so shocked by this mob and what it is prepared to do when it comes to the environment. Not only was this mob prepared to make an application to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO to seek to delist 74,000 hectares of forest from World Heritage but, had the application been accepted, it would have made us only the third country to actively seek to delist World Heritage. It is ridiculous! And it is making Australia a laughing stock. All I can say is: thank goodness for the World Heritage Committee and the sensible decision that it made not to allow the application to delist those 74,000 hectares of forest.

We know that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to the World Heritage Committee. We have had to have the World Heritage Committee give the Queensland government a rap over the knuckles and give the federal government a rap over the knuckles when it comes to the Great Barrier Reef. As the purported environment minister well knows, the draft decision that was being—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Griffith will resume her seat. Now, the member for Bass on a point of order.

Mr Nikolic:  Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That is the second occasion the member for Griffith has spoken in pejorative terms about the minister. I believe she should withdraw and refer to him by his correct title.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  The member for Griffith might refer to the minister by his correct title.

Ms BUTLER:  I shall refer to him as the environment minister, thank you very much. (Time expired)

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