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SENATE

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102

102 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 destocked to down below 10,000 tonnes. The government was previously running them at 21,000 tonnes. They are going to question a new consideration of 14,000 tonnes. I raised this issue privately with Senator Ruston, who is in the chamber here—that this could have been avoided if the federal government had stepped in and actually tried to do its job under the EPBC Act and actually looked at the considerations around its responsibilities in Macquarie Harbour. The IMAS report, which has just been released in the last week, suggests that the science tells us that there are significant problems. I will be on the east coast of Tasmania next week and I will be meeting communities around Okehampton Bay where Tassal are planning to expand fish farms. Based on my experience as a Tasmanian senator trying to do my job—trying to get this situation sorted out—I will have to say to them: 'I have no faith in the Tasmanian government to regulate this industry. I believe Tassal is too close to the Tasmanian government, and they you good reason to be concerned. You should be opposing the expansion of fish farms in Tasmania until we can actually get the Tasmanian government to do their job and properly regulate this industry.' We need public confidence in this industry. This industry needs to have a future, and future sustainability. (Time expired) Forestry Senator RUSTON (South Australia—Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (21:32): Whilst tonight I intend to raise a separate issue, since I am in the chamber and have had the opportunity to listen to some comments from Senator Whish-Wilson, can I just say how tremendously disappointed I am about the contribution that he has just made. As Senator Whish-Wilson mentioned in his speech, he has been speaking to me about this particular issue, and for him to come in here and start espousing his conspiracy theories on this matter is very disappointing because I do not think it serves to benefit anybody. There is absolutely no doubt, when we speak about our fisheries sector, that we are talking about a shared environment. We are talking about a shared resource. That means that there are a number of people who legitimately have a stake in this particular resource. It is not just about the environment, it is not just about recreational fishers, it is not just about commercial fishers and it is not just about the people who happen to live along the coastline having the ambience and amenity of their views considered. It is a resource that everybody has a right to have a part of. I think the whole 'all or nothing' approach that the Greens seem to be taking on this particular issue is a job destroyer. Let's not commit the kinds of issues and comments that we have heard from Senator Whish-Wilson. Let's actually be more serious and actually take some sensible and responsible action about dealing with what is a mounting issue in Tasmania. If we work together and establish a mutually agreed management position then we can get the Tasmanian salmon industry to achieve what I think it can in terms of its future. It is a marvellous industry. Everybody in Australia is extraordinarily proud of the Tasmanian salmon industry. And whilst every industry that is a shared resource and every industry that has an impact on an environment or an area will constantly have challenges that it has to meet, the best way that we can do it is by working together and not standing up and making the kind of comments that were made tonight by Senator Whish-Wilson. Can I also say that it is extraordinarily disappointing when it becomes personal, Senator Whish-Wilson. It is extraordinarily disappointing for you to come in here tonight and actually name people and make allegations about people, as you did about the chief executive of Tassal. I am not standing here and defending, or otherwise, anybody— Senator Whish-Wilson: Yes, you are! Senator RUSTON: in this particular industry, but I think—Senator Whish-Wilson, perhaps you should stay and listen as I sat and listened to your contribution—that, if you are going to make those sorts of accusations, maybe you should say them outside of this place. I do not think making comments like that serves any purpose in trying to resolve a very important and very serious issue which you raised tonight, Senator Whish-Wilson. Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting— Senator RUSTON: I did not interject on you, and I think that you should respectfully not interject on me. The PRESIDENT: Senator Ruston, just put your comments to the Chair. Thank you very much. Senator RUSTON: Certainly. I would be grateful if you would suggest to Senator Whish-Wilson that he might like to show me the respect I showed him when he was making his speech. The reality is that making the kinds of accusations and making the kind of speech that Senator Whish-Wilson did tonight does not help anybody. It does not help the people of Tasmania, it does not help the people of the salmon industry, it does not help his community and it certainly does not help the environment. But, as I said, my intention tonight was actually to stand up and talk about a much more positive issue. It starts off with a very sad place, and that is the current energy crisis that has befallen my home state of South Australia CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 103 and the ensuing renewable energy debate that has occurred. Whilst we have heard lots of comments about this there is one thing that is absolutely assured and everybody agrees on, and that is that the requirement for energy demand into the future is going to go on unabated. When it comes to renewable energy, unfortunately we have an ideological approach from the Greens and from the ALP about pursuit of renewable energy, without actually looking at the transition process about how we are going to actually get to a position where that is a sustainable source of energy. It is a somewhat blinkered and narrow-minded outlook. There is far more to renewable energy than windmills and solar panels. There is an energy source out there that can actually generate jobs and growth in regional Australia, and it is based on a renewable resource that sequesters carbon. That energy source is bioenergy. It can function as carbon-neutral, it can provide a baseload energy source and it is not dependent on the wind blowing, the sun shining, the waves rolling in or building infrastructure that allows things to fall from great heights to generate energy. It can produce sustainable, renewable, reliable energy, and it can do it 24 hours a day. That renewable energy resource is wood waste. It is beneficial to the environment and it is identified as a positive carbon-neutral source. Generating bioenergy from woody biomass is about making the most use from materials sourced during sustainable forest harvesting and the production of wood and paper. The use of forest biomass is carbon-neutral, and most often the particular material used is actually the offcuts, the bits and pieces that are left over after you have used the wood that you have harvested for other purposes. This residue is quite often left to rot on the forest floor. This is an issue because it is a fire hazard. It is also not being used for its highest value application. Often it is just used as green mulch. Using woody residues, the low-value materials that are left lying around, to produce energy is a sensible way to avoid using fossil based fuels that have such high levels of emissions. One of the major objections to the use of woody biomass comes from a body of people who believe that bioenergy will displace other forms of clean-energy generation. All forms of renewable energy need to be pursued in coming up with a mix of renewable energies that will be sustainable into the future but particularly in making sure that we have renewable energies that are available for us 24 hours a day. Some environmental activists claim that using wood waste to produce bioenergy will increase logging activities in our native forests. This is simply not true. At this point, it would be very remiss of me not to mention an emotional, fact-devoid speech that was given in this place a few weeks ago by Senator Rice when she was referring to the regional forestry agreements that we are currently in the process of renewing. The Greens revel in fomenting disruption and uncertainty in the industries they feel must be punished for not conforming to their narrow views, as we saw tonight with Senator Whish- Wilson. However, if they were really true to their cause, they would throw all possible support behind the regional forestry agreements because a sustainable forestry industry using renewable, carbon-sequestering resources with some of the strongest conservation values in the world certainly fits into the narrative that we often hear them use. If they were true to their purpose in this place, they would throw all possible support behind these RFAs to provide certainty and security for thousands of forestry workers in regional Australia. If they were true to their word about supporting regional communities, they would throw their support behind the RFAs to ensure those communities which literally depend on forestry for their survival will have a future. There is absolutely no doubt that the forestry sector provides one of the pieces that needs to be put in place for our renewable-energy future. It is somewhat ironical coming from a state like South Australia where we see this ideological, hell-bent pursuit of a renewable-energy future without having a look at all those pieces that we now see that major generation of energy in many of our rural and regional communities in South Australia is from burning diesel. Standing here tonight I would like to say that I am a great supporter of our forestry sector. I believe that it is a sunrise industry with an amazing future in the Australian landscape. I believe that wood waste stands ready to assist us in our renewable-energy future. I commend to this house that everybody look at the forestry sector as an element that we can add to our renewable-energy mix into the future and to seek for the Greens and those who are not supporting this as an energy source to rethink their ideological beliefs and think about the future of our rural and regional communities across the whole of Australia. Climate Change Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia—Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (21:42): The last fortnight we have seen a collection of the very worst that Australia can dredge up in climate politics. A recordbreaking heatwave has put the blowtorch on the eastern two-thirds of the continent. Sydney recorded its hottest day in history. Last Saturday, the 15 hottest locations in the world were all in Australia. At the same time as parts of inland Australia were hotter than 50 degrees, severe floods were washing away parts of the Western Australian wheat belt. CHAMBER

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