Media Release

Gillard’s farce: $15m for projects blown because of Greens biomass policy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is proposing $15 million for biomass power stations under the so-called forest peace deal which could have been met by an existing Government program, if not for a pact with the Greens.

“Apart from being a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money, this is a stunning illustration of just what a mess this policy area has become,” Coalition Forestry spokesman Richard Colbeck said.

Senator Colbeck said:

1. In negotiating the carbon tax with the Greens, the ALP sold out the forest industry and agreed to introduce new legislation prohibiting the use of native forest residues for renewable energy credits under the renewable energy target.

2. Meanwhile, we know Labor recognises the benefits of biomass, because the chair of the house agriculture committee, Member for Lyons Dick Adams, recommended it in his report, Seeing the Forest through the Trees, tabled in the last sitting week of 2011.[i]

3. Unfortunately for Mr Adams - and his credibility in his forest dependent seat - two days later a regulation blocking biomass was tabled in Parliament.

4. A later move by Independent Rob Oakeshott to disallow the regulation resulted in a hung vote, and speaker Peter Slipper cast his with the Government. Mr Adams could have personally delivered his own recommendation had he voted with his constituents and the industry, and not with his party and the Greens.

“The absurd thing is that this additional $15 million would not be needed if a sensible regulatory regime was in place,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Why are we proposing to spend taxpayers’ money on things which we can fix with a sensible change in regulation?

“Now we wait to see if Julia Gillard will stick by her deal with Christine Milne, or will she stump up the $15 million she shouldn’t have needed to spend in the first place?”