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Senator Ricky Muir | Renewable Energy Amendment Bill - Woody Biomass Statement | 17-Jun-2015

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Senator Ricky Muir outlines his position on the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015. Some key points from his contribution below:

- Recognises projects like LMS Energy that extract methane from old tip sites;
- Supports ARENA and funding into projects such as wave energy;
- Supports the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the assisted funding to help business step into less energy-intensive practices;
- Supports the original 41,000 gigawatt hours Renewable Energy Target by 2020, however is willing to compromise to ensure bipartisan support on the revised target;
- Will not support any amendment to that does not have support of both the major parties. He believes that this will give some people in the Government an excuse to delay the deal;
- He expects bipartisan support, regardless of whether or not the ALP's amendments to woody biomass are successful;
-This support is crucial to restore investor confidence to an industry employing thousands of people in both Victoria and Australia; and
- Supports extending the exemption to energy-intensive industries to 100 per cent and recognising wood wast sourced from sustainably managed forests as an eligible source of renewable energy within the RET;

He highlights the issues around misinformation spread around in relation to the inclusion of woody biomass from native forests, based on his own personal experiences as someone who was employed by the timber industry in Gippsland.

Senator Muir also outlines his concerns about how people are being mislead by this misinformation and how some of this misinformation is not even related to the legislation, but being used to scare others into opposing the changes.

In addition he discusses how the inclusion of woody biomass is designed to process by-product that will rot and break down releasing carbon or methane into the atmosphere as it currently does, or it gets pushed into the windrows and burnt wasting the opportunity to capture the energy released.

He reminds the the Labor party that he was a paid-up union member of the CFMEU, Forestry division and what one would call a traditional Labor voter and how by trying to to appease the Green votes, all they are doing is getting a nod of approval from people who are going to vote green anyway.

He points out correspondence received from the CFMEU where around 30 delegates from within the timber industry have pleaded for the support of their jobs, saying they want Senator Muir to oppose the ALP amendments on wood waste in the Senate.

He uses examples from his previous employer and his own personal experience to outline just how much of the harvested timber is used as high value product. The document he tables helps to highlight the protection that the high-value test contributes to ensuring that wood waste would not be a driver in harvesting operations. How even small offcuts are turned into products such as floor joists, window component, door component, stair stringers and more. This has all been made to size out of waste which would not been burnt for electricity.

Senator Muir goes on to explain that what waste is left over is then turned into chips and sold to Australian Paper, Maryvale. He also explains how by not procuring Australian paper we run the risk of relying on products that are imported from countries that do not have our chains of custody from forests that may not be sustainably managed.

He discusses how some of the sawdust from Australian Sustainable Hardwood is used to create heat to operate their kilns to dry the timber. By using that sawdust—which is dry, so it burns very clean—it saves them about $4 million every year in gas bills and reduces the emissions produced by the operation.

Furthermore he defends the timber industry in Victoria and the 21,000 jobs within that industry in his State.

Finally he identifies that proposed amendments around AFCS-certified native forests would have the same effect as removing wood waste eligibility from the legislation.

He concludes by restating that it is important that the legislation is passed, with bypartisan support and that it should be passed by the Senate unamended or at least amended only with support of both the major parties.
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