Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (22:04): I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the House for the opportunity to finish the comments that were interrupted by the quorum call previously. I just want to again put into context the comments that I am contributing about the amendment by the opposition on timing by indicating again the climate change policy in July 2007 of the then government led by those opposite, which said: Australia’s domestic policies will influence, and be influenced by, effective and practical international responses to climate change. It may take some time for a truly effective international framework for emissions reductions to emerge. It is likely that in the near term progress will be made through national and bilateral actions. A domestic emissions trading system, investment in low emissions technologies and energy efficiency measures in Australia will create opportunities as the international framework emerges.

Within the context of the 2007 policy of those opposite I want to indicate that my colleague the member for Throsby and I attended an important event in our area, which was the announcement and unveiling of longwall mining machinery by Gujarat NRE, an important local mining company in our area, and a celebration of that.

It was done within the context of a statement made to the Stock Exchange by Gujarat on 4 October 2011, headed 'Implication of carbon tax for Gujarat NRE'. It is an extensive statement, but I just want to go to the conclusion so that it can be put on the record of this place. In terms of the time frame that we are looking at here, there have been, as many speakers have said, two decades of debate on these issues. We got to a point in July 2007 where there was bilateral agreement and the very issues that attempts are being made to undermine by the arguments of those opposite were in fact their policy and printed for the world to see at that point in time.

But companies in our country are actually moving on.

This is what Gujarat NRE has said: The company expects that it would be eligible for government assistance via the Coal Sector Jobs Package which will assist in reducing the overall impact of the tax. However a substantive emissions management strategy is being developed as part of each mining operation to ensure that emissions are controlled.

Mr Jagatramka, Executive Chairman for GNCCL said "we have actively investigated action that will be undertaken to reduce our total emissions of greenhouse gases. The development of new underground roadways separate from the old and existing mine workings, supports the sealing off of these old workings and prevents waste gasses from being included in our mine's ventilation system. Into the future the company is committed to utilising ventilation controls, the sealing of old mining areas and gas drainage techniques that will allow the capture and flaring of gas."

Based upon this strategy and the above mentioned measures, the potential impacts of the carbon tax are expected to be around $2.70 per tonne of coal produced. It is apparent that the direct impacts of the carbon tax will be minimised and this is not expected to impinge on future growth of the company. It is important to acknowledge that companies in this country do understand the international dilemma that we all face about the need to get our carbon emissions down and they are investigating and seeking opportunities to do exactly that. Gujarat NRE is a mining company in my own area. Five generations of my family have worked at this mine—since the 1900s, in fact. It is a company that understands the challenges of the future. It is a company that is up to the challenges of the future. It reflects the great strength of this nation that our companies and our communities are up to the challenges of the future and are up to taking the opportunities of the future. It is sad that those opposite persist in a view that is narrow and negative. I believe it is a view of our capacity as a nation that will not last the test of time. Now is the time for action. These amendments should be rejected and we should get on with leading the world as we have done so well, in so many areas, for so many generations. It is time that we act.