Federal Member for Melbourne Ports
Mr DANBY» (Melbourne Ports) (12:08): First of all, I would like to make some comments on the member for Hughes’ speech: windmills, I would say to him, windmills! They have had them in Holland for hundreds of years and they have been a very useful source of energy. People in every advanced human society are moving towards all forms of renewable energy. I found his remarks over the top. Spain does have a huge economic problem, but their economic problem is reflecting on their use of renewable energy, rather than the other way around.
I want to turn to this motion from the member for Melbourne, which I believe is seeking to bypass proper processes in the administration of Commonwealth grants. This reflects the double standards of the Greens. Two years ago, the member for Melbourne was-quite rightly-an active participant in the campaign seeking to have the Commonwealth government waive grant conditions to support the Solar Systems’ Mildura solar project. With this motion, he is seeking to have the Commonwealth make decisions on the HRL project. This is inconsistent with his position of two years ago, when he rightly sought to give clean energy every opportunity to succeed. The member for Melbourne needs to be held accountable for these double standards. His motion is not about clean energy; it is a political campaign by the Greens. Let us get some facts on the table. Solar Systems and HRL were awarded grants in 2007 by the Howard government under the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration program. Both projects have had difficulties. Yet now we are asked to waive grant conditions to HRL and move heaven and earth to support Solar Systems while rigorously doing everything we can to halt the HRL project. The government, on the other hand, has been fair and has treated both projects equitably in seeking to apply procedural fairness in giving the projects an opportunity to work through their issues and giving them an opportunity to succeed.
On Friday last week the Minister for Resources and Energy-an excellent minister-announced the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism had granted a six-month extension to the HRL project, giving them until 30 June 2012 to meet outstanding grant conditions, and the minister made it explicitly clear that this will be the last extension for the HRL project. This extension has been made because the HRL-Dual Gas project is currently subject to Administrative Appeals Tribunal proceedings. If that appeal goes against them, that is the law and we will all have to accept it. In the meantime, we have to apply what I regard as fairness to both projects. I would have thought that the member for Melbourne would understand the need for proper administration of grant programs in accordance with proper processes and the importance of not pre-empting judicial processes. Again, in my view, this is a political move by the Greens to grab a headline rather than genuinely support a range of clean energy technologies.
The government, however, understands the need to support clean energy technologies, whether they are solar, CCS or geothermal, as some examples. The government will continue to support clean energy technologies, including through the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and will seek to give supported clean energy projects every chance of success, whether they are the Solar Systems Mildura project or the HRL-Dual Gas project. I wish the Greens would put aside their political campaigns against some forms of energy that they do not like and support genuinely clean energy rather than seek to chase a headline in the media.
One of the joys of being a member of the Labor Party is that we believe in egalitarianism. Some bloke working in the Latrobe Valley-a blue-collar worker-has as much right to aspire to a job, economic success and freedom as a person in North Fitzroy who has a PhD and who supports the Greens. One of the great things about this minister, the Labor government and our philosophy in general is that we want to do as Paul Keating said: let everyone drag themselves up; leave no-one behind. This is what applying fair processes is all about-leaving no-one behind. People in the Latrobe Valley are as valuable as people who live in North Fitzroy. This Labor government will not abandon them.