TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Environment
and Climate Change. Can the minister outline for the house some of the ways in
which the Brumby government will build on its leadership role in the effort to
tackle climate change during 2008?
JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) — I thank Ms Tierney for the
opportunity to talk about an important part of the government’s commitment to
dealing with climate change matters — with the adverse potential impacts of
climate change and mitigating against those, adapting to changed circumstances
that may require an ongoing change of practice in infrastructure investment and
providing opportunities for economic activity to underpin the confidence in
Victoria’s future in a time of climate change.
That is a very significant undertaking on an important issue,
which the Premier has reiterated as recently as within the last hour.
I am very pleased to say that it is a commitment I and other
members of the government share to make sure that 2008 — the year in which
Australia will do the detailed work of establishing a national emissions trading
scheme and the year in which this nation will finally grapple with the issue of
the price of carbon in terms of the energy sector and other industry sectors
which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions — will be the year in which the
major regulatory environment, the major leapers and the major market mechanisms
will need to be established. Victoria has demonstrated its commitment to be at
the cutting edge of this thinking in Australia, and it will continue do so
within the national scheme that will be established during the course of this
We want to ensure that we drive the standards and the
expectations for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and that we are at
the leading edge of Australia’s response on this issue.
During the course of the introduction to my answer to this
question members on the other side tried to give me a bit of flak about the fact
that I travelled overseas during the month of January and engaged with many
leading academics and regulators at both the federal and state levels in the
United States of America. I met with many representatives of energy generators
and those who are responsible for regulating the energy sector in both the state
and federal jurisdictions. People who invest in the energy sector will be very
interested to know what investment opportunities there may be for a shift from
their current profile of energy generation in Australia towards renewable
Indeed I am very pleased to say that through a series of very
productive discussions I shared Victoria’s vantage point, I learned from the
experts and those who are engaged in the sector, and I think there will be very
productive outcomes from those series of discussions.
The day that I arrived back in Victoria — 29 January — the
Premier, along with me, the Minister for Energy and Resources and the Minister
for Water, convened a round table of major stakeholders within the energy sector
in particular and those who are concerned with greenhouse gas emissions. Those groups ranged from Environment Victoria and the
various environmental groups through to the Victorian Council of Social Service,
which is concerned about the social and equity questions of the introduction of
a price of carbon, and included those that are involved in the potential
renewable energy sector and those that are going to be translating their current
brown coal generating capacity and that are looking at the ways in which they
can technically improve their performance and take opportunities with a price
for carbon this year. They were very productive and constructive conversations.
During the course of that round table, which was very engaging
for those stakeholders, the Premier announced that it is the intention of our
government to hold a summit to engage more broadly with the Victorian community
about these issues and to provide opportunities for other stakeholders to
comment on these matters and to drive Victorian policy further.
In fact 23 April is the date allocated for this summit, which
will create the opportunity for us to take the policy to the next stage.
We are not resting on our laurels in relation to specific
programs that underpin our drive in energy and in this sector in 2008.
Whether it be through the energy and resource efficiency
program that is trying to encourage Victorian industry to reduce its
environmental footprint; whether it be driven through household reforms such as
the Victorian energy efficiency target program, which will be designed to
increase the efficiency of households; whether it be to continue the drive
through the renewable energy target, in which Victoria has always been a leader;
whether it be through the energy technology innovation strategy scheme, which
looks at the ways in which we drive research and development into technical
solutions to deal with reducing the carbon load of the energy sector; or whether
it be in relation to reducing our resource use further towards zero-waste
policies, we will be having a series of concerted and dedicated programs to
drive this agenda whilst we are establishing the architecture of the new
national emissions trading scheme and introducing the price of carbon. The
Brumby government wants to be at the leading edge of these developments right
across this nation and internationally.