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Senate speech on the Climate Change Bill 2022

Speeches in Parliament
Penny Allman-Payne 7 Sep 2022

I rise to speak this evening to the climate change bills. I note that many of my Greens colleagues have spoken to these bills and done so with eloquence, intelligence and passion. So while I wish to make a contribution to the debate on these bills, I want to focus on a few key areas. We cannot end the climate wars while opening up new coal and gas projects. It really is that simple. In the month since these bills passed the House of Representatives, Labor has opened up 47,000 square kilometres of ocean to oil and gas exploration. The Prime Minister has said that Australia will keep on selling coal and gas to the world. Queensland Labor has given approval to the New Acland Coal Mine. These are not the actions of a party that is committed to reducing emissions.

Let me be extremely clear. The Greens will be supporting these bills, but they are a very small step forward, and Labor has committed to kicking real action on climate change to the kerb. This is a government that is captured by the likes of Woodside, Chevron and Santos. In Western Australia, literally two-thirds of all offshore gas is given away to these companies for free. The state government gets more money from vehicle registrations than it does from gas royalties. Federally, the petroleum resource rent tax is broken. Australian people are paying for the privilege of having our climate destroyed for the sake of multinational profit. That's a disgrace. While these bills go nowhere near far enough, we are pleased to have secured improvements. The Greens have made sure that Labor's unscientific target of 43 per cent is a minimum, and we are aiming to see that target raised substantially. We've made sure that the Climate Change Authority will be guided by the global temperature goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Crucially, large financing bodies such as Export Finance Australia and Infrastructure Australia will have to consider climate targets when financing projects. This is significant, as these bodies have been vehicles for significant fossil fuel financing.

Finally, the government has agreed to consider our proposals for a national energy transition authority to support coal and gas communities and give them control over their futures as Australia tackles the climate crisis. There is a real opportunity here for collaboration on protecting workers and their communities, and ensuring an equitable transition to renewable energy that ensures well-paid employment and world-class services for those communities. I look forward to working with the government to get this done and to meaningfully deliver for working people in fossil fuel communities like mine. But a national energy transition authority will have its work cut out managing the transition for existing fossil fuel projects. There are 114 coal and gas projects in the pipeline at the moment. Even a single one would blow Labor's target out of the water and make a mockery of any commitment to transitioning workers and their communities. The Labor Party might think that they can keep exporting coal and gas for decades to come, but the reality is that our international partners will stop buying it. If Labor intends to achieve even their inadequate target of 43 per cent, not one of the 114 coal and gas mines currently green-lighted can go ahead.

Whilst the Greens will vote for the climate bill, this bill cannot be the be-all and end-all of climate action. We will fight tooth and nail against all new coal and gas projects, and we will make sure that workers engaged in existing fossil fuel projects are protected and given secure, well-paid jobs in their communities.

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