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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Federal Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources
The Hon. Ian Macfarlane
John Gorton Building, Canberra
Thursday, 15 May 2003
HOWARD BAMSEY: Thank you for coming. All of the AGO (Australian Greenhouse Office) staff and colleagues from EA (Environment Australia) and ITR (Industry, Tourism and Resources) as well. I'm delighted that we're joined today to celebrate our five years of achievement and prospects of more to come. We're joined by both of our ministers, each of them would like to say a few words to us, and I'd ask Dr Kemp to speak now.
DR DAVID KEMP: Thanks very much, Howard. Happy birthday everybody. Five years. Well, you've grown a lot in five years, and in that time you've really made a tremendous contribution to Australia and to the Australian Government to make sure that we are doing the right thing in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
The Greenhouse Office was a world first. And I know that when I travel to other countries and speak to other ministers about what they are doing to take a responsible way in reducing our contribution, as human beings, to climate warming, and when I tell them about the Australian Greenhouse Office, they always express enormous interest in what has been a pioneering effort internationally.
There's no doubt at all that Australia has led the way in setting up the mechanisms to make sure that we do abate effectively the human impact on climate change.
A lot's happened in five years. It's been a tremendous progress for the Australian Greenhouse Office. It was established in April 1998; it had then, at establishment, approximately 45 staff. It's moved around over those years.
It's provided great advice to me, and now for Ian Macfarlane, as ministers responsible for this very important area of government policy. I understand that there's about 250 briefs and 1800 ministerials that are produced by the Greenhouse Office every year. I mean I won't say that that sounds like a snow job, but it's an awful lot. It's an awful lot of paper being produced by the Greenhouse Office. But the quality of that work is really outstanding. And, Howard, I want to say to you just how delighted I've been, in my time as Minister, with the quality and advice that has come to the government from the Greenhouse Office.
I also want to make the point today that not only have you completed a successful five years, but the future is very bright indeed. Australia is now working, as you know because you're participants in it, very intensively on developing our forward greenhouse strategy. Australia needs a strong and coherent form of strategy on greenhouse, and the Greenhouse Office is a very important and significant contributor to that.
I've seen some extraordinary press comment, since the budget's come down, that somehow or other the Greenhouse Office budget has been slashed. We've seen all sorts of figures by up to $24 million, in fact I've seen one figure that you're going to be spending some $4 million next year on greenhouse and isn't this terrible. Well, of course the truth is quite the opposite to this. The greenhouse budget in the next year is going to be some $124 million. You're going to be spending, as an organisation in the coming year, some $30 million more than you spent last year. So this shows the very strong commitment that the government is making to greenhouse, and it shows the confidence that the government has in the future of the Australian Greenhouse Office.
So congratulations everybody on the great job that you're doing. Congratulations on five years very well spent. Congratulations on putting the Australian Government in a position where it can take a very strong stand on greenhouse internationally. Happy birthday.
HOWARD BAMSEY: Thank you Minister on behalf of all of us for that encouragement and those generous words which we prize. I'll now ask Mr Macfarlane to speak to us.
IAN MACFARLANE: Thanks very much, David. And to you and your very capable staff, to the members of ITR and its department, of course for members of EA.
As a relative newcomer in terms of my association with the AGO, can I say how important it is, in the information that you supply to me and my staff, in building the relationship between industry resources and tourism and, of course, the greenhouse reductions.
In terms of industry, we have been able to weld, significantly because of your contribution, a partnership which will see greenhouse gases and greenhouse emissions reduced in Australia. We will in fact, in my belief, lead the world in a number of areas.
The contribution of the AGO towards the total eruption in a global sense of greenhouse gases is yet to be realised, but I'm sure both David and I will agree that we have absolute faith that you will be there when we need you.
In terms of your achievements over the past - last five years, can I simply add my congratulations to David's. I think it has been a wonderful achievement. It has been a balanced achievement. That is, you have put forward proposals which recognise the need for economic growth and therefore recognise the need for industrial and resources growth, but, at the same time, have ensured that our environmental credentials have been enhanced.
But I wish you a very happy birthday, and I also say how much I'm looking forward to being with you in our path forward. Having only been part of this team for a little over four months, I've enjoyed the association and I look forward to working together in the future. Thank you.
HOWARD BAMSEY: Thank you too, Minister, for your words of encouragement to us. That's of enormous assistance to us as we look forward to the next year and years after that of further achievement.