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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Questions Without Notice (13 June 2017)

Date: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 3:00 PM
Location: House of Representatives

Mr BUTLER (Port Adelaide) (15:04):  My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the emissions intensity threshold under a clean energy target be at, higher or lower than 0.6 tonnes?

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong—Minister for the Environment and Energy) (15:04):  The member for Port Adelaide should know very well why we commissioned, through the COAG Energy Council, the report from the Chief Scientist—because in South Australia the big experiment went wrong. The member for Port Adelaide described it as a hiccup—and 1.7 million people lost power!

So, we have from the Chief Scientist a detailed report—more than 200 pages in length—with a series of recommendations from an expert panel. And we have said publicly that we will give his report the due consideration that it deserves, because there are a whole series of recommendations: a clean energy target which, as the Leader of the Opposition should know, was the preferred recommendation over his emissions intensity scheme. And why? Because his emissions intensity scheme was punishing coal.

Mr Conroy interjecting—

Mr FRYDENBERG:  And the member for Shortland opens his mouth—

The SPEAKER:  The member for Shortland will cease interjecting.

Mr FRYDENBERG:  but has he told them that there will be hundreds of people in his own electorate who will lose their jobs as a result of his own policy? And has the member for Hunter opened his mouth? No. He is looking at his phone, because he knows that hundreds of people in his electorate will lose their jobs.

The SPEAKER:  The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Burke:  It is on direct relevance: you do not get a question more specific than this. It refers to the emissions intensity threshold and asks whether the target will be higher or lower than 0.6 tonnes. There is no preamble, no rhetoric attached, and the answer has to be directly relevant.

The SPEAKER:  In addressing the point of order of the Manager of Opposition Business, I allow, as he knows, ministers to have a preamble. The minister is now nearing halfway through the answer to the question. The Manager of Opposition Business is right to point out that it was a very specific question, and the minister needs to either address himself to the specifics of the question or wind his answer up.

Mr FRYDENBERG:  There is a very specific answer, which is that the clean energy target was one of the recommendations out of the Finkel review, and we will give it due consideration—absolutely. So, will the Leader of the Opposition come to the dispatch box, dump his emissions intensity scheme, front up to the member for Hunter and tell him he has sold out the hundreds of workers and stand up to the member for Shortland and tell him that he going to lose hundreds of jobs there? We will give this report its due consideration, but there is a series of important recommendations in the Finkel review, and the clean energy target is one. But I do note that there is a broad chorus of support—

The SPEAKER:  Does the Manager of Opposition Business have a point of order—other than relevance?

Mr Burke:  Yes, other than relevance: simply on the minister defying the ruling you gave. He has given an answer that is quite specific where he said that they will continue to consider the matter, and then he has acknowledged that in the remaining time he will talk about other things. It is a time limit, not a time target. He does not have to make the three minutes.

The SPEAKER:  The Manager of Opposition Business is correct at one level: it is a limit, not a target, and I have made that point myself. But having raised the point of order and the minister having directly addressed the point of the question, which is acknowledged, that does not then mean that the person asking the question gets to eliminate the three minutes. The requirement is that he is on the policy topic. He has answered the question, as the Manager of Opposition Business has noted, and there are 50 seconds to go. He will not stray onto any other policy topics. If he needs the next 50 seconds, he has them.

Mr FRYDENBERG:  The energy issue is an absolutely vital economic and environmental issue for the future of our country. The Prime Minister has outlined the trilemma that we are seeking to solve and how our focus is on the engineering and the economics. The Labor Party is focused on ideology, on reckless targets and on costing jobs. We will not trade out the hundreds of thousands of people across the country whose jobs rely on affordable and stable power. That is the coalition's objective, and the Finkel review provides a lot of food for thought.

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