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September 20, 2008

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has told Federal Parliament that the proposed Emission Trading Scheme “is about jobs, families and the future of key industries”.

Speaking on a bill which provides for geosequestration of greenhouse gases in the future, Mr Chester cautioned that it was in no-one’s interest to jeopardise the economic viability of power generators in the Latrobe Valley by moving too fast or placing too heavy a burden on their operations.

“Given that our nation’s contribution to emissions is less than two percent of the global total, we need to be extremely mindful of the international effort and who we have on board in the process,” Mr Chester said.

“If we are prepared to give the planet the benefit of the doubt and we accept that climate change is real, then we are gong to need a strong and sustainable economy to deal with these challenges. We need to be tackling these challenges from a position of economic strength.

“The massive cost and the prospect of job losses that are related to the Emission Trading Scheme issue are coming at a time when Australia can least afford them.”

Mr Chester said the Latrobe Valley community was just starting to come to terms with what the Emissions Trading Scheme would mean for the region and the impact it may have on them and their families.

“We have not seen the economic modelling from the government at this stage and we have very limited knowledge of the direct impacts, particularly as they affect regional communities,” Mr Chester said.

“I fear that in some regards we are running headlong into an economic disaster which will be most heavily felt in rural and regional communities like my own area, Gippsland.”

In supporting the specific bill before Parliament, Mr Chester said the geology of the Gippsland basin meant that it may be well suited to providing for the underground storage of greenhouse gases in the future.

“There’s no doubt that Gippsland will need to be at the forefront of research and development to successfully capture and store carbon in the future. We have a strong and vested interest in developing the technology and becoming a major player in this emerging industry,” he said.

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