CONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS TO BE ACCORDED PRIORITY
Solar Bonus Scheme
Mr ROB STOKES
(Pittwater—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.20 p.m.]: My motion deserves to be accorded priority because the citizens of New South Wales deserve answers on the Labor Government's disastrous handling of the Solar Bonus Scheme. The Auditor-General's report on the Solar Bonus Scheme released yesterday found that the scheme would cost taxpayers up to four times as much as we were told by the former Government. How did the former Government get it so wrong and why has the architect of solar bonus and the administrator of solar bonus—now the Leader of the Opposition—been so quiet on the report released just yesterday? This is the first opportunity the Parliament has had to discuss the extraordinary findings in the report. Surely the member for Blacktown must want, as a priority, to explain to this House why and how he got the Solar Bonus Scheme so wrong.
Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition to order for the third time.
Mr ROB STOKES:
We support solar power. We do not support bad government. We do not support wasting money. An idea for a feed-in tariff, which could have incubated the sustainable growth of a solar installation industry in this State if properly designed and implemented, was instead mishandled so badly.
Order! Government members will cease their private conversations.
Mr ROB STOKES:
The scheme has cost a ridiculous amount of money, demanded from people who cannot afford it, and it has undermined public support for small-scale renewable energy in this State. This motion deserves to be accorded priority because it will give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to break his silence and explain his actions. He can tell families why his bungled scheme will add $50 a year to their electricity bills for the next six years when electricity prices have sky-rocketed 60 per cent over the past five years and when Labor's carbon tax is about to send prices up further. He can tell legitimate solar PV installation businesses across this State why his bungled scheme—which they were never consulted about before it was introduced—has set up an inevitable boom and bust that has attracted unscrupulous operators to the industry and has left the honest solar businesses and electricians of this State riding a regulatory roller-coaster that has denied them the opportunity for sustainable long-term growth.
This motion deserves to be accorded priority because it will give the Leader of the Opposition the chance to explain to those many citizens who want to encourage the move to renewable energy why his bungling has undermined public support for solar photovoltaic by only allowing those fortunate enough to own a roof space to participate in an overgenerous scheme and reap the benefits of that scheme at the cost to the rest of us. This motion deserves to be accorded priority because it will give the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to explain to his Federal colleagues why his bungling has distorted the market for renewable energy certificates so that the market for small-scale certificates was completely flooded while the scheme has the effect of delaying vital investment in large-scale renewable projects that can be made viable with much less generous support.
This motion deserves to be accorded priority because it will give the Leader of the Opposition the chance to explain to his own colleagues, past and present, why and how he got the figures so badly wrong and why he failed to consult the industry and even sections of his own Government before introducing a scheme without any business case, without any cost-benefit analysis, without any risk management plan, without any overall implementation program, without any regard for the impact of the scheme on the budget and without, frankly, any clue. I know that Frank Sartor would be interested to hear what the Leader of the Opposition has to say on this motion. This motion deserves priority so that the Leader of the Opposition can explain why, once the flaws in the scheme design had clearly emerged, he did not review the scheme when capacity got to 50 megawatts, and why the former Labor Government did not complete the review until the scheme was up to almost over double that, 100 megawatts.
This motion deserves priority because the Leader of the Opposition needs to explain how the other States got it right and other nations, notably Germany, got it right, and how, with all those examples, he got it so wrong. This motion deserves to be accorded priority because it will give the Leader of the Opposition the chance, once and for all time, to stand up and claim responsibility for this multi-billion dollar mess, to explain why he thinks he did get it right or to continue to keep quiet and prove by his silence that he has failed the test to ever again exercise executive responsibility in this State. It is as simple as that and as important as that—accept priority, debate this matter now or forever hold your peace.
Order! Members leaving the Chamber should do so quietly. Members who wish to have private conversations should do so outside the Chamber.
Mr RYAN PARK
(Keira) [3.24 p.m.]: This matter deserves priority because the people of the Illawarra's northern suburbs deserve a world-class hospital system but, just as importantly, they deserve a Government that is going to be honest with them and maintain the commitments that were made when the Minister for Health was in Opposition. This goes to the heart of what is wrong with this Government. What is wrong with this Government is that it spent a lot of time in Opposition promising everything to everyone. When it comes to government, when it comes to making the decisions that will benefit people such as those in the Illawarra's northern suburbs, it runs away from the tough decisions—Treasury gets to them and before you know it their commitment is no longer there. The long-term plan for Bulli Hospital has taken too long. That is why, from day one, since being preselected, I lobbied the then Government to secure a $9.4 million commitment to a new integrated primary healthcare centre on the site.
To truly understand why this matter deserves priority one first needs to have a basic understanding of the Illawarra region and its unique health needs. Bulli Hospital is located in a growing area—both for families and for older people looking to retire—of the Illawarra. Secondly, in the past 12 months the hospital has seen around 8,000 people go through its emergency department. Thirdly and finally, this matter deserves priority because the people of the northern suburbs of the Illawarra regretfully voted for those opposite some seven or eight months ago on the basis of a commitment that the former shadow Minister for Health made about bolstering resources for Bulli Hospital. This is what the Minister for Health said when she was in Opposition:
Bulli Hospital deserves the resources it needs to put patients first. The New South Wales Liberals are committed to a functioning health facility at Bulli.
That was Minister Skinner in October 2010. There was no mention of a closure of the emergency department, but what was said during the election campaign a couple of months before March? Surely by this stage the Coalition would have started to think, "We have to be honest to our communities." I will quote what Joe Cool, John Dorahy, said back then:
Mr Gareth Ward:
Point of order: John Dorahy is not in this place to attack or defend himself. The member for Keira is not debating priority; he is debating the motion. I ask you to draw him back to why his motion deserves priority over other business of the House.
I draw the member back to establishing why his motion should be accorded priority.
Mr RYAN PARK:
John Dorahy said:
In the doorknocking I have done around the northern stretches of the seat of Keira everyone's talking about the issues of health and the lack of services available ... and they are desperately wanting a change of government so we can ... [wait for it] ... bolster Bulli Hospital with what it needs.
That is what John Dorahy said. That was the commitment of the Coalition to the people of the northern Illawarra. The Government has walked away from the people of the northern Illawarra.
Order! The member for Kiama will come to order.
Mr RYAN PARK:
I enjoy the interjection of the member for Kiama, the future Minister for the Illawarra. He had the terrible job the other day—a very awful job that his Premier gave him—and that was to defend the indefensible. He is the Clayton's Minister for the Illawarra, the Minister you have when you are not really having a Minister. He is the only member in the lower House in an Australian Parliament who says the following, "Look, I represent the people of the Illawarra, but there is no need to have an office in the Illawarra."
The member will return to giving reasons as to why his motion should be accorded priority.
Mr RYAN PARK:
I understand that the Double Bay branch of the Liberal Party would debate Bulli Hospital frequently, but I want the Minister for the Illawarra to once and for all join me and fight for Bulli Hospital to get the resources it needs. [Time expired.
Question—That the motion of the member for Pittwater be accorded priority—put and resolved in the affirmative.