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senate vote 2019-07-24#1

Edited by mackay

on 2019-09-06 12:54:48


  • Bills — Future Drought Fund Bill 2019, Future Drought Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019; Second Reading
  • Future Drought Fund Bill 2019 and another - Second Reading - Condemnation


  • <p class="speaker">Peter Whish-Wilson</p>
  • <p>Last night I outlined the effect that climate change has on drought in Australia and the records on climate change, especially in the last 30 years. I'd like to foreshadow my second reading amendment, which has been circulated in the chamber, on sheet 8714:</p>
  • <p class="italic">", but the Senate:</p>
  • The majority voted against an amendment to the usual [second reading motion](, which is *that the bill be read a second time*. This is parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill. The amendment was introduced by ACT Senator [Katy Gallagher]( (Labor).
  • ### Amendment text
  • > *At the end of the motion, add "but the Senate:*
  • >
  • > *(a) condemns the Government for its failure over six years to develop and implement a comprehensive and effective policy to assist rural and regional communities facing severe drought conditions; and*
  • >
  • > *(b) notes that the inferior response contained in the bill requires the abolition of the Building Australia Fund, which could be used to build road, rail, and other vital infrastructure—including water infrastructure—in these very same rural and regional communities".*
  • <p class="italic">(a) notes that the Bureau of Meteorology has stated that:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(i) the current drought in the Murray-Darling Basin is the most severe in 120 years of records; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">(ii) climate change is a significant cause of the severity of the drought; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">(b) calls on the Government to recognise that we are in the middle of a climate crisis which has implications for droughts in this country."</p>
  • <p>When we think about drought, we think about a parched landscape and empty water tanks. But, often, we don't think about the wide-ranging effects that drought has on our community, the health of our community, the health of our economy and the health of our biodiversity. We know that drought can have wide-ranging effects, including on nutrition, infectious diseases, forest fires causing air pollution in Tasmania&#8212;which I outlined earlier in my speech&#8212;mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress, and suicide behaviour. This has all been well documented and well established.</p>
  • <p>Drought can also contribute to increases in mortality rates. The World Meteorological Organization has linked drought to over 680,000 deaths globally in the 40 years to 2012. Even here in Australia, declines in physical health are particularly prevalent among the elderly in drought-affected rural communities. I could go on about the impacts of drought on our economy, often overlooked in debate in this place.</p>
  • <p>It beggars belief that we're handing over the reins of billions of dollars to a party, the National Party, and a minister who won't even recognise the impact that climate change has on drought or the fact that it has contributed to this record drought that these funds are going towards alleviating. If we don't address the underlying causes of drought and the multiplier effect it has on our communities, our economies and the environment, then we're just going to continue to throw good money after bad.</p>
  • <p>I'd like to talk a bit more in the five minutes I have left about the importance of how we fund this legislation, the Future Drought Fund Bill 2019 and related bill. Labor have raised objections previously that they don't want the money to come from infrastructure spending. It's very disappointing to see that they haven't put up any alternatives for where we could find the funding to go towards rural communities and the mitigation of and adaptation to drought in these communities. The Greens have put forward a series of amendments, including an amendment that will take money from dirty fossil fuel companies, from big oil and gas companies, who are getting away with blue murder in this country and not paying any tax.</p>
  • <p>I outlined earlier in my speech the $360 billion in tax credits that some of the biggest, wealthiest corporations on this planet have clocked up in this country. Four times now the Greens have moved in this chamber to fix this tax system, this tax rort, and actually deliver some money for the Australian people. This is a good place to start today when we are debating a bill about how we can help farmers. Why don't we have fossil fuel companies pay for this drought relief fund? Why don't we have the money come from companies that are making profits from burning fossil fuels that are directly linked to rising emissions and to the length, severity and frequency of incidence of drought in this country? That's what we should be doing.</p>
  • <p>If we want to be honest about this debate and apply the user-pay principle, which so often the mob on the other side of the chamber are very happy to talk about, let's fix the broken tax system in this country and use that money at least for the public good. I think those taxes&#8212;$360 billion&#8212;will never be paid in this country. In fact, they continue to build every year because of the generous way this system has been set up. Those taxes could be used to pay for schools and hospitals. They could go towards rural communities that need funds to help them survive in a future of climate change.</p>
  • <p>Have the guts and fortitude in this place to actually put a price on carbon emissions. The Greens previously successfully got a carbon price in this chamber, with the help of Labor. It was the gold standard all around the world with a clean energy package for investing $10 billion into renewable energy, including, I say to the opposite side, in wind farm projects. There was $10 billion for renewable energy to drive the transition to a clean economy and renewables jobs, including in regional Australia. That money could be very useful for us to properly transition communities, coal workers and their families in regional Queensland and, of course, farming communities. So I urge this Senate to consider the idea that we should actually be taxing the source of these droughts that we're seeing in rural and regional Australia and the root cause of the suffering that we're seeing in farming communities.</p>
  • <p>My father is a retired farmer. I say to Australian farmers: when are you going to put pressure on the Barnaby Joyces of the world? Barnaby Joyce only recently came out and completely disregarded the importance of climate change and the need for action for the future of all Australian communities and, indeed, the future of the planet. He completely disregarded that we can make any impact or show any leadership on this most important of issues. It is so ironic that farmers consistently vote for the Liberal and National parties when they have done nothing. If anything, they have deliberately gone slow and stymied any attempts in this parliament to act on climate change. I implore Australian farming communities and farming organisations, such as the National Farmers' Federation, to put pressure on this government to act on climate change and to support the Greens today in taking money off the dirty fossil fuel companies that are creating this problem in the first place. It is an absolute no-brainer.</p>
  • <p>I urge the Australian Senate to consider these Greens amendments to take money off big oil and gas companies&#8212;the same companies that are paying virtually no tax in this country, the same companies that are exploiting a system set up to benefit big fossil fuel companies, the same companies that are still going out and exploring for oil and gas in the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight, the same companies that are conducting seismic surveys off the north coast of New South Wales and, in my home state, in the waters off King Island, and the same companies that are trying to profit from burning fossil fuels at a time in history when we desperately need to transition our economy. Let's take money off them to pay for farmers. Let's fix this tax rort and take action on climate change. <i>(Time expired)</i></p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>