Question to Minister Bowen on the National Reconstruction Fund





SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, MILTON DICKS: Order. I give the call to the Member for Wills. 

PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy: how will the National Reconstruction Fund help Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? And how has it been received? How does this build on existing programs to support investment in renewable and clean energy? 

DICKS: I give the call to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. 

CHRIS BOWEN, MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I thank my honourable friend for his question. He knows that there is no bigger, important city to Australia’s manufacturing future than Melbourne and the suburbs of Melbourne, and he also knows that the National Reconstruction Fund will be key to ensuring that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. And that’s perhaps why the creation of the National Reconstruction Fund has been supported by the Energy Efficiency Council, the Smart Energy Council, the Electric Vehicle Council and Origin Energy, who’ve all explicitly supported the policy. The honourable Member also asked me how the National Reconstruction Fund will build on other agencies and policies, and there is no more important example than the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr. Speaker, which has been so important in Australia’s development of renewable energy industries and is now the world’s largest green bank. The world’s most successful, the largest green bank, and that’s very important. It’s also important because as the Minister for Industry has pointed out, he has based the design of the National Reconstruction Fund on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is very important. And it’s also relevant because the same arguments that are being used by the only group to oppose the National Reconstruction Fund, which is the Liberal and National Party, were the arguments they used to oppose The Clean Energy Finance Corporation 10 years ago. Exactly the same records, I repeat, Mr. Speaker, if you look, if you look at what they said at the time, the member for Bradfield said ten years ago, Mr. Speaker, he said in his house- 

DICKS: Order the minister to resume his seat. You know what the manager’s going to say and I’ll hear from him right now. 

PAUL FLETCHER, MEMBER FOR BRADFIELD: Mr. Speaker, it is on relevance. I will concede it was a tightly drafted question. How is this program helping Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? How has it been received? How has it built on existing achievement? Absolutely nothing about: would the Minister please give his usual incoherent spray against the track record of the previous government? 

DICKS: Resume your seats. Resume your seat. The question also says how does this build on existing programs so the Minister can be relevant to report refer to the former government, but ask him not to make that the central part of his answer and I give him the call. 

BOWEN: Just trying to quote a bloke, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Bradfield said about the CSC. “It is extraordinarily difficult to understand how anyone could imagine that this is going to be anything other than a spectacular financial disaster”. That’s what he said ten years ago; he’s nodding. He’s nodding. And they say the same thing today. So devoid of imagination, are they? They say the same thing today about the National Reconstruction Fund. Now the CFC has invested $11.7 billion in projects worth $42 billion. Every dollar the CFC has invested has leveraged 2.6 dollars of private sector investment. It’s created thousands of jobs, 5.2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, and reduced emissions by 240 million tons. But apart from that, it’s been an utter disaster, Mr. Speaker, a complete disaster. The member for Bradfield had a point. This is what you get when you have an opposition so devoid of their own ideas, so devoid of a constructive approach, so devoid of acting in the national interest, that they just opposed, Mr. Speaker. They opposed it 10 years ago, they tried for years to abolish it. They tried for years and years to abolish it and they failed, and now they’re trying to stop the next phase of the National Reconstruction Fund. This is what you get, Mr. Speaker, when you have a leader of the opposition who’s all opposition and no leader. 

DICKS: Order, give the call to the leader of the Nationals.