TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is for the Minister for
Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings. Can the minister please inform
the house how the Brumby government is supporting innovative approaches to
reducing vehicle emissions?
JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) — I thank Ms Tierney for her
question and for the opportunity to talk about a very exciting initiative that I
had the good fortune to be associated with last week, which was the Australian
launch of an international program known as Better Place. It is a very exciting
opportunity which will lead to the rollout of electric cars throughout the
When we talk about electric cars we are not talking about
hybrids but cars that plug in and have reusable, rechargeable batteries. It is
an issue that Mrs Coote has an interest in. She has had her moment in the sun in
relation to the types of batteries that may be in the existing technology. I
look forward to, and the rest of the international community can look forward
to, the next iteration of lithium-ion batteries, which will be the next change
in technology that will lead to even greater efficiency in batteries in their
ability to have a longer shelf life, to be recharged and to drive the electric
cars of the future.
The important aspect of Better Place is that it has already
established momentum in Denmark, Israel and the United States. Last week an important
international collaboration was announced between Better Place, AGL as a local
energy provider, and Macquarie Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment arm
of the Macquarie Bank. They have formed a collaboration to roll out the
infrastructure that will be required to make sure we can replenish battery
charge and replace batteries all along the eastern seaboard of Australia.
This is a very exciting project. The locations where Better
Place started — Denmark and Israel — are relatively small compared to the
Australian land mass. If the proposal works here — in terms of being able to
provide the infrastructure through which batteries can be recharged and replaced
quickly and effectively at service centres — and if that infrastructure can
work across Australia, it will work anywhere, because of the tyranny of the
distance covered by commuters in Australia.
As a business model and as an infrastructure development issue,
it is an extremely exciting prospect that Australia, and indeed Melbourne, will
become the third place where Better Place is rolling out this exciting
Across the globe Better Place has partnered up with
manufacturers — Renault in Europe and Nissan internationally — to make cars.
We hope there would be some form of development in the investment and
manufacture of cars that may ultimately benefit the nation. But in the first
instance it is developing the infrastructure to support electric cars that is
the essential part of this collaboration, and it is very exciting that Better
Place has chosen Melbourne to be its home.
I congratulate Shai Agassi, the leader and founder of Better
He is a relatively young man with extreme dynamism and vision
who is trying to shift the paradigm about how infrastructure is created to
support electric cars into the future so that we can get the monkey off our back
with our reliance on oil — in terms of both our contribution to greenhouse gas
emissions and the pressures that peak oil projections place on the global
community. He has shown outstanding leadership in this field, but he is not
alone. At the announcement he was joined by Idan Ofer, the chairman of Better
Place; Jeff Dimery, representing the energy supplier AGL; and David Roseman, the
head of the infrastructure and utilities advisory at Macquarie. They joined me
in the announcement, and I was very happy to be in their company and show our
government’s encouragement of emerging technologies and of lower emission
transport solutions that will assist in rising to meet our environmental
challenge and lead the potential for greater innovation and technology in this
community and in our economy.
This is part of the future. Our government is clearly
associated with the establishment of hybrid car manufacturing in Australia. We
are taking that further through our support for Better Place. We will support
other approaches to reducing the emissions profile in the transport sector and
supporting quality transportation options for our citizens. We think Better
Place could not have found — literally — a better place to arrive than
Melbourne, Victoria, to drive that investment across Australia.