Energy Efficiency Strategy



About this Item
SpeakersTebbutt Ms Carmel; Goward Ms Pru; Harris Mr David; Stokes Mr Rob; McKay Ms Jodi
BusinessDivision, URG MOT


ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Page: 8922

Motion Accorded Priority

Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT (Marrickville) [3.33 p.m.]: I move:
      That this House:
(1) congratulates the Iemma Government on taking urgent action to address climate change through its energy efficiency package;

(2) applauds the community for their efforts in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

(3) condemns the Opposition for its complete lack of commitment and policies on this important issue.

As I have said, there is no greater environmental challenge than the threat of global warming. The science is in and experts globally agree that urgent action is required.

Ms Pru Goward: So why don't you do something?

Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT: We hear from the member for Goulburn that we should do something. In fact the New South Wales Government has been doing something about climate change for a long time. We are a leader in tackling climate change, unlike those opposite and their colleagues in the Federal Parliament. The New South Wales Government initiated one of the world's first mandatory carbon emissions trading schemes. It has already cut emissions by more than 60 million tonnes, which is the equivalent of taking more than 12 million cars off the road for a year. In 2005, New South Wales was the first Australian jurisdiction to set ambitious targets to reduce emissions: a 60 per cent target by 2050. That is not a crown that fell to the Federal Coalition when it was in office: it fell to the New South Wales Government. Our land clearing policies were instrumental in Australia being able to meet its Kyoto targets. Under New South Wales leadership we started work on a national emissions trading scheme and with Labor now in office, the Federal Government is developing that scheme.

Yesterday we saw the Premier of New South Wales take yet another major step forward in the effort to tackle climate change, with the announcement of a $150 million energy efficiency package. This is world-leading policy. We know that if we are going to genuinely address climate change, we must invest in renewable energies and reduce the impact of coal but we must also support the community and businesses to adopt more energy-efficient measures—the two go hand in hand. I was surprised to see the response of the member for Goulburn who seemed to indicate in her press release that this is a vote of no confidence in a national emissions trading scheme. That there is in some way a conflict between what the New South Wales Government is doing with its energy efficiency plan and what is happening on the national front with a national emissions trading scheme could not be further from the truth.

Ms Pru Goward: You do not understand how it works.

Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT: With all due respect, the member for Goulburn does not understand how it works. I think there is a complete lack of understanding amongst those opposite about how climate change policy instruments actually work. A national emissions trading scheme will be the principal instrument to drive emissions down. That is why we on this side of the House have supported a national emissions trading scheme for a long time. That is why we took action to make sure that when Labor was elected nationally it was in a position to move quickly and smoothly on a national emissions trading scheme. No-one can doubt the commitment of members on this side of the House to a national emissions trading scheme. However, we also know that to drive emissions down, the emissions trading scheme, along with other factors, is expected to push energy prices up. Therefore, it is incumbent on the New South Wales Government, and on the New South Wales Parliament, to support the community of New South Wales to manage that transition to an environment where carbon is constrained and where carbon will cost more. We must assist and support the community of New South Wales to reduce their carbon footprint and to reduce their energy bills. That is what the Energy Efficiency Strategy is all about.

All the experts agree that a national emissions trading scheme and energy efficiency measures are complementary in assisting to reduce the carbon footprint of the New South Wales community and to reduce the community's energy bills because they cut emissions and also save money. The alternative is to stand by while prices rise, which will impact on families and businesses. The Government's package is a $150 million investment in energy-saving measures that are expected to save the New South Wales economy a massive $415 million in the avoided wholesale cost of electricity.

Members do not have to listen only to me on this subject. Any number of experts has welcomed the New South Wales Government's plan. Predictably the Opposition attacked the plan but, by contrast, a number of interested groups and stakeholders welcomed the Government's announcement. For example the head of Planet Ark, Mr John Dee, was reported on radio yesterday as welcoming the plan, in particular the Government's measure to set an energy efficiency target. He said:
      One of the easiest ways we can reduce the country's climate change impact is to get businesses to have real targets that they have to meet.

Jeff Angel from the Total Environment Centre has described the plan as, "a breakthrough set of policies aimed at reducing energy bills and energy consumption of households and businesses". He went on to say:

      Proactive energy efficiency programs and targets like this are essential to complement an emissions trading scheme

      It can deliver big and early greenhouse gains in response to growing alarm about global warming.

Energetics, which is a major Australian climate change and energy solutions company, also welcomed the announcement:

      Energetics welcomes the NSW State Government's 'Action Plan for Energy Efficiency' released today.

Many have welcomed the Government's package.

Ms PRU GOWARD (Goulburn) [3.41 p.m.]: I move:
      That the motion be amended by leaving out all words after "That" and inserting instead:

1. condemns the Government for its failure to mitigate the impact of anthropogenic climate change; and

2. applauds the community for their efforts in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite the lack of support from the Government.
I am absolutely staggered that the member for Marrickville, who has ambitions to become Premier, has moved the motion because the Iemma Government has an incredibly tacky track record on climate change. For example, the Clean Energy Roundtable established by the Government met only once, in May last year, and made no recommendations. So much for green energy! The Treasurer referred to the Australian of the Year as an idiot for being concerned about climate change, referred to his own Government's "bogus" policies on climate change and provided no additional funding for climate change in this year's budget, instead simply riding off the back of funding that was announced last year, despite significant inflation increases having occurred in the meantime.

The State Government has not produced a policy on public transport—the best and most recognised way of addressing greenhouse gas emissions—to get cars off the road and to encourage people to instead use public transport. Where is the Government's policy on public transport? The Government has no policy on the promotion of solar power. The South Australian and Queensland governments have buy-in tariffs, yet the New South Wales Government is not even talking about a buy-in tariff—presumably because the Treasurer and the Minister for Energy are eager to avoid damaging the Government's power sell-off.

When it comes to big picture policies that can make a difference to climate change, the New South Wales Government refuses to take action. The reason that some, but not all, businesses were supportive of yesterday's announcement is that they are relieved not to be flogged and slugged with more regulation. They were also relieved that there was nothing compulsory about the package and that all that was being asked for was a little bit of public education. One would have thought that public education might have been undertaken well before this point. If it is so easy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solve climate change, one would have thought that a public education campaign would have been underway already.

The reality is that merely encouraging people to improve their energy efficiency cannot address climate change. Governments have to provide people with materials and technology with which to effect the change and governments must send the correct pricing signals. None of those actions has been taken. I highlight the lack of adequate public transport, despite fuel prices in Australia having reached record high levels. The one exciting measure yesterday was the introduction of a further regulatory impost upon the top 200 companies in New South Wales. The Government proposes to double its regulation of those companies—they are regulated already under the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme—and that is evidence that the Government recognises its Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme has failed.

Every year in New South Wales, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Yes, the rate of the increase is not as high as it once was, but the reality is that emissions continue to increase. That is incontrovertible evidence of the scheme failing to achieve what it has set out to accomplish by 2020—a target date by which most members of the House, except for younger members, will no longer be responsible for the Government's tired old lies. The year 2020 is a conveniently distant target. In the meantime, emissions in this State will continue to increase.

Yesterday's desultory package of $150 million spread over 40 per cent of Australia's population is totally inadequate for improving energy efficiency. As I say, the Government avoids big picture policies, such as encouraging the adoption of photovoltaic cell technology and buy-in tariffs that would result, as they have in Germany and in other countries throughout the world, in significantly reduced emissions. Members opposite have espoused no such policies because the Iemma Government is totally committed to grasping revenue from the sale of electricity industry assets but has no commitment to climate change, except climate change rhetoric.

Yesterday's announcement is acknowledgement that the Government does not believe that a national emissions trading scheme will be forthcoming. As business has said, if a government believes in a national emissions trading scheme, it sends a price signal to get the point across about energy savings. Greenhouse gas abatement certificates issued to going-green companies that supplied households with high efficiency and low energy light bulbs failed and the companies went bankrupt. The Government badly mismanaged the scheme and the pricing of certificates. It also failed to manage the uncertainty created by the advancement of a national scheme. If the Government had cared about households using low-energy high-efficiency light bulbs, it might have done more last year to assist those companies but instead it stood by while they went to the wall. The Government's greenhouse gas abatement scheme has been extremely ineffectual.

Mr DAVID HARRIS (Wyong) [3.48 p.m.]: The Iemma Government takes the challenge of climate change seriously. The New South Wales Energy Efficiency Strategy, which was announced by the Premier yesterday, is the next stage in our comprehensive plan to reduce the State's emissions and meet our strict climate change targets. We already have created the landmark $340 million Climate Change Fund that is designed to help New South Wales families, schools, community organisations and businesses to do their bit to reduce our State's emissions. Part of that fund is earmarked for the Residential Rebate Program, which provides financial assistance to families who wish to install energy efficient solar water heaters, insulation, or rainwater tanks in their homes. The community's response has been overwhelming. In just 10 months since the program commenced, over $10 million in rebates have been distributed.

More than 20,000 rebates have been issued to New South Wales families across the State. With the assistance of the Iemma Government, the devices installed in homes across New South Wales will save an estimated 585 million litres of water and almost 14,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. That is the equivalent of taking more than 3,000 family cars off the road for a year. I am proud to say that, to date, my electorate of Wyong has taken up more rebates than any other community anywhere in the State. I congratulate the people of the Central Coast on taking the climate change challenge to heart.

The strong response to the rebate program shows that the New South Wales community cares deeply about climate change and the Iemma Government is giving them the right tools to do their bit. But what does the Opposition think about helping families play their part in the fight against climate change? The member for Goulburn has described assistance to families to install energy efficient appliances as throwing money around willy-nilly. She also said we should not bother with measures to reduce our emissions in Australia, because "even if we did all of these things at an incredible cost to the Australian economy it would make no difference to the world".

Australia has the second-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world. We are a developed nation and we should lead by example. Thankfully, the community, like the Iemma Government, disagrees with the member for Goulburn, and we are getting on with the job of slashing our emissions. The Climate Change Fund also includes our $20 million school energy efficiency program, which helps New South Wales principals modify their buildings to improve energy efficiency and teach kids about sustainability in the process. Our $40 million Renewable Energy Development Fund supports innovative renewable energy projects to help power New South Wales homes and businesses into the future. The Climate Change Fund is another example of the Iemma Government's comprehensive strategy to tackle climate change—a multipronged strategy that looks at emissions from all sections of the community and industry.

Mr ROB STOKES (Pittwater) [3.51 p.m.]: I welcome the opportunity to speak to the motion, but, sadly, I do not have the opportunity to read a speech prepared by some ministerial staffer. Sadly, I am not given that privilege. I am only given three minutes to debate a matter that I would happily debate for hours because I believe it is really important. I challenge the assertion that the Government is taking effective action to combat and mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. If it were, then the energy efficiency requirements for new buildings would be applied to high-rise residential flat buildings. Evidence shows that they are the most unsustainable form of construction, yet for some reason—perhaps the power of certain developers—and somehow high-rise residential flat buildings are immune from BASIX.

If the Government were really committed to reducing the impacts of anthropogenic climate change then it would challenge the Federal Government's decision to impose income thresholds on solar panel rebates, which has just delivered a king hit to the New South Wales solar industry. If the Government were serious it would get real about setting renewable energy targets today and not for some date in the distant future. I note the question that my friend and colleague the member for Manly asked the Minister for Energy today, which was:
      What steps has the Government taken to reach its renewable energy targets in 2008?

The Minister's reply was:
      The New South Wales Government has not set a renewable energy target for 2008.

If this Government were real about climate change it would set targets for reducing the incredible rates of increasing power consumption from coal-fired power stations and it would fight rising household energy demand by investing in smart meter technology that clearly displays energy consumption and cost so that home owners are visibly conscious of unnecessary energy use. It would mandate strategic planning controls to cater for the impacts of rising sea levels in coastal communities—and I note the presence of the member for Wyong, whose electorate, like mine in Pittwater, is vulnerable. Yet we have no strategic controls setting a flood level to take account of the impacts of rising sea levels.

The meagre resources that this Government has directed to address climate change fail to recognise the reality that New South Wales is naturally blessed with renewable energy resources and should be at the forefront of the development of renewable energy technologies, such as the Coalition's commitment in the 2007 election to develop a solar power station and to focus on water recycling rather than desalination. For those reasons I support the amendment moved by the member for Goulburn.

Ms JODI McKAY (Newcastle) [3.54 p.m.]: I support this priority motion because, as members would be aware, the Hunter region is the centre of coal and power generation, so we have a significant interest in what is occurring in energy research and reducing our carbon footprint. We have two significant projects in the area, not including the clean coal technology: the CSIRO energy research facility and the University of Newcastle's climate impact change research facility. If the shadow Minister is having difficulty coming up with a response that adequately deals with energy efficiency measures, I encourage her to come up to the region and have a look at what we are doing.

To recap on the energy efficiency strategy, which I am pleased to support, the Government is allocating $63 million to enable 220,000 low-income families to receive door-to-door home energy advice and free energy saving kits; $15 million to begin an energy efficiency program with on-site advice for 6,000 small and medium businesses; and $20 million to work with 800 medium to large businesses on leading-edge waste energy and water saving measures. We will also establish an economy-wide energy savings target to be implemented by 1 January 2009, as well as tough new targets under the Government's revamped world leading greenhouse gas abatement scheme.

As the member for Marrickville said, green groups and energy experts have described the energy efficiency strategy as breakthrough policies that cover all the bases. The member for Goulburn and the member for Pittwater launched into a range of contradictory criticisms. While criticism is sometimes justified, if those opposite are going to criticise I believe it is important to put up an alternative, but we have not heard any of that. We have heard nothing from the Opposition. The question we ask is: when will we hear something about climate change policy from the Opposition? When will we hear what it intends to do on this, the most urgent environmental challenge of our time.

Ms Pru Goward: I've said quite a lot.

Ms JODI McKAY: The member for Goulburn says she has said a lot. The member spoke of her policy development process and told the Lowy Institute in November last year that she was going on a two-year listening tour. She said, "If you ask me in two years time I hope I have an answer then." It is important to note that in two years time when the member for Goulburn is still listening we will have the national emissions trading scheme virtually up and running; we will have the energy efficiency package fully rolled out and we will have increased wind energy generation in New South Wales by 700 per cent. And the member for Goulburn will still be on her climate change tour, listening. It is important to note that the Iemma Government is delivering a comprehensive strategy to ramp up energy efficiency, to develop innovative clean energy technologies and to slash our State's emissions.

Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT (Marrickville) [3.57 p.m.], in reply: I urge members to support the motion and to reject the amendment moved by the member for Goulburn. It is simply not credible for the Opposition to come into this place and criticise the New South Wales Government's record of action in addressing climate change. For 11 long years New South Wales battled a climate change-sceptic Federal Government that resisted every step of the way any decent initiative to address climate change. It was not interested in ratifying Kyoto; it was not interested in a national emissions trading scheme—its one solution was nuclear. For the Opposition now to claim that the New South Wales Government has not taken action to address climate change is, frankly, laughable.

We know that the member for Goulburn, the shadow spokesperson on Climate Change, believes that debating climate change is a waste of time, so I guess it is not surprising that she seeks to amend my motion. The member for Goulburn believes that the Kyoto Protocol is simply a piece of paper and that signing it would have been a waste of time. She has attacked the Green Business Program despite the fact that it raised the bar for industry and funded innovative, energy-efficient measures. The member indicated today that the Government's energy-efficiency plan in some way means that it does not have any faith in the national emissions trading scheme. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When all else failed, the member for Goulburn played the person rather than the policy with her unprecedented personal attack on the Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water (Environment). The people of New South Wales will see through what the Opposition is putting forward. Members on this side of the Chamber know that, while the Federal Government continues its work on the development of a national emissions trading scheme, one of the challenges for the New South Wales Government is to support this State's population in adapting to an environment in which the cost of carbon will increase and the price of energy will rise. Adam Lewis, the managing partner of McKinsey and Company, wrote about climate change in The Australian earlier this year as follows:
      To make it achievable and affordable, a portfolio of opportunities needs to be pursued simultaneouslyearly action is critical

We have already done that. The report continues:
      opportunities that will save money, such as in the building sector and energy efficiency, need to be pursued as vigorously as those that cost money, like the move to clean coal or solar power.

I could not agree more, and that is why I have moved this motion.

Question—That the words stand—put.

The House divided.

Ayes, 49
Mr Amery
Ms Andrews
Mr Aquilina
Ms Beamer
Mr Borger
Mr Brown
Ms Burney
Mr Campbell
Mr Collier
Mr Coombs
Mr Corrigan
Mr Costa
Mr Daley
Ms D'Amore
Ms Gadiel
Mr Gibson
Mr Greene
Mr Harris
Ms Hay
Mr Hickey
Ms Hornery
Ms Judge
Ms Keneally
Mr Khoshaba
Mr Koperberg
Mr Lynch
Mr McBride
Dr McDonald
Ms McKay
Mr McLeay
Ms McMahon
Ms Meagher
Ms Megarrity
Ms Moore
Mr Morris
Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Pearce
Mrs Perry
Mr Rees
Mr Sartor
Mr Shearan
Ms Tebbutt
Mr Terenzini
Mr Tripodi
Mr Watkins
Mr West
Mr Whan

Tellers,
Mr Ashton
Mr Martin

Noes, 36
Mr Aplin
Mr Baird
Mr Baumann
Ms Berejiklian
Mr Cansdell
Mr Constance
Mr Debnam
Mr Draper
Mrs Fardell
Mr Fraser
Ms Goward
Mrs Hancock
Mr Hartcher
Mr Hazzard
Ms Hodgkinson
Mrs Hopwood
Mr Humphries
Mr Kerr
Mr Merton
Mr O'Dea
Mr Page
Mr Piccoli
Mr Provest
Mr Richardson
Mr Roberts
Mrs Skinner
Mr Smith
Mr Souris
Mr Stokes
Mr Stoner
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr J. D. Williams
Mr R. C. Williams


Tellers,
Mr George
Mr Maguire

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 49
Mr Amery
Ms Andrews
Mr Aquilina
Ms Beamer
Mr Borger
Mr Brown
Ms Burney
Mr Campbell
Mr Collier
Mr Coombs
Mr Corrigan
Mr Costa
Mr Daley
Ms D'Amore
Ms Gadiel
Mr Gibson
Mr Greene
Mr Harris
Ms Hay
Mr Hickey
Ms Hornery
Ms Judge
Ms Keneally
Mr Khoshaba
Mr Koperberg
Mr Lynch
Mr McBride
Dr McDonald
Ms McKay
Mr McLeay
Ms McMahon
Ms Meagher
Ms Megarrity
Ms Moore
Mr Morris
Mrs Paluzzano
Mr Pearce
Mrs Perry
Mr Rees
Mr Sartor
Mr Shearan
Ms Tebbutt
Mr Terenzini
Mr Tripodi
Mr Watkins
Mr West
Mr Whan

Tellers,
Mr Ashton
Mr Martin

Noes, 36
Mr Aplin
Mr Baird
Mr Baumann
Ms Berejiklian
Mr Cansdell
Mr Constance
Mr Debnam
Mr Draper
Mrs Fardell
Mr Fraser
Ms Goward
Mrs Hancock
Mr Hartcher
Mr Hazzard
Ms Hodgkinson
Mrs Hopwood
Mr Humphries
Mr Kerr
Mr Merton
Mr O'Dea
Mr Page
Mr Piccoli
Mr Provest
Mr Richardson
Mr Roberts
Mrs Skinner
Mr Smith
Mr Souris
Mr Stokes
Mr Stoner
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr J. D. Williams
Mr R. C. Williams


Tellers,
Mr George
Mr Maguire

Pair

Ms BurtonMr O'Farrell
Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.