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Infrastructure Australia Bill sidelines climate change and peak oil

The Government, Opposition and Family First closed ranks again today to reject Greens amendments to the Infrastructure Australia Bill seeking to ensure that climate change and peak oil considerations are integral to the strategic overview of Australia's infrastructure development.

Senator Milne said "Establishing a body to have a strategic overview of Australia's infrastructure needs is vital, but how can a Government that claims to make climate change a priority repeatedly refuse to make climate change and greenhouse gas emissions a central consideration of that body? While Infrastructure Australia's 'primary functions' will include examination of pricing, efficiency and financing, advice on climate change is relegated to an 'additional function'.

"The Bill as it stands effectively makes Infrastructure Australia a megaphone for the roads lobby and coal corporations, making tollways and coal ports the focus of Australia's infrastructure, instead of mass transit and renewable energy.

"In an age of climate change and peak oil, it is beyond belief that the body overseeing Australia's infrastructure could only be allowed to take those issues into account when specifically instructed to do so by the Minister. Surely they should be primary considerations for every relevant infrastructure decision.

"Minister Albanese must now say what criteria he will use to determine which projects will be required to undergo greenhouse gas emissions scrutiny and which ones won't.

"Will the greenhouse gas ramifications of expanded coal ports and related infrastructure be fully assessed? Will lower emissions alternatives to proposed freeways, such as more efficient mass transit options, be required?

"With the Rudd Government's first Budget only weeks away, the Greens are advocating a Green Budget, focussing the Government's efforts across the board on climate change, cutting the subsidies to fossil fuels and abolishing the fringe benefits tax concession on motor vehicles and shifting support to clean renewable energy and mass transit options."

Senator Milne's Second Reading Speech and proposed amendments can be accessed here:
http://greensblog.org/2008/03/19/infrastructure-australia-strategic-plan...

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