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senate vote 2021-05-12#11

Edited by mackay staff

on 2021-05-21 13:40:58


  • Matters of Urgency Budget
  • Matters of Urgency - Budget - Climate change


  • <p class="speaker">Helen Polley</p>
  • <p>I inform the Senate that at 8.30 am today 26 proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was determined by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the following letter has been received from Senator Thorpe:</p>
  • <p class="italic">Pursuant to standing order 75, I give notice that today I propose to move "That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:</p>
  • The majority voted against a [motion]( introduced at the request of Victorian Senator [Lidia Thorpe](, which means it failed.
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:*
  • >
  • > *The 2021-2022 Federal Budget fast-tracks climate collapse, pouring more new money to the coal, oil and gas industry.*
  • <p class="italic">The 2021-2022 Federal Budget fast-tracks climate collapse, pouring more new money to the coal, oil and gas industry."</p>
  • <p>Is the proposal supported?</p>
  • <p class="italic"><i>More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places&#8212;</i></p>
  • <p>I understand that informal arrangements have been made to allocate specific times to each of the speakers in today's debate. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall ask the clerks to set the clock accordingly.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Larissa Waters</p>
  • <p>At the request of Senator Thorpe, I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:</p>
  • <p class="italic">The 2021-2022 Federal Budget fast-tracks climate collapse, pouring more new money to the coal, oil and gas industry.</p>
  • <p>It is a disgrace that the 2021-22 federal budget fast-tracks climate collapse by pouring more, new money into the coal, oil and gas industries. That's exactly what last night's budget did. As if the fossil fuel sector wasn't already getting enough public support, with fossil fuel subsidies running at almost $9 billion a year, last night it got a whole new bucket of subsidies added to the existing, already obscenely large bucket of subsidies.</p>
  • <p>I am going to go through the figures for each of the indefensible amounts of public money that have been given to these big corporations and mining billionaires that are wrecking the planet and making life more difficult for all of us. Last night's budget did absolutely nothing to help the transition to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy, which would create more jobs and might help us save what is left of the Great Barrier Reef. Not only was there a complete absence of climate action; this government is actively funding climate collapse. The obscene amount&#8212;billions of dollars of public money&#8212;is utterly reprehensible. We saw last night a pre-election sweetener that failed to make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, whilst fast-tracking climate collapse. Instead of taxing the billionaires, we've got stage 3 tax cuts locked in. Instead of making the big corporations pay their fair share, the budget is full of corporate welfare. Instead of investing in planet-saving, nation-building infrastructure, the government handed billions to fossil fuel companies, further accelerating the climate crisis.</p>
  • <p>To go to those fossil fuel subsidies that I talked about, there's $1.1 billion in new money to oil, gas and coal. Next year it goes up to $11.4 billion, and over the forwards there's a total of $51 billion&#8212;that's billion with a 'B'&#8212;in public money going to fossil fuel corporations. That is one of the biggest handouts to the fossil fuel industry in a federal budget ever, and we are in a climate crisis! Honestly, you could not design a worse policy, a worse use of public money, than to prop up polluting industries that make the climate crisis worse. They are pocketing all sorts of corporate largesse, and one in three already pays no corporate tax. Meanwhile, the government just vetoed giving public money to a windfarm with a battery backup for reasons that remain known only to the minister himself. They've got an active war on giving public support to clean energy, but they are falling over themselves to give more public money to fossil fuels. It flies in the face of every single climate scientist on the planet. It flies in the face of desperate calls from the community, particularly from the young, for urgent climate action to protect the future. And it flies in the face of the calls from everyone in low-lying areas where saltwater incursion is making it hard for people to grow food and where natural disasters are increasing in severity, frequency and destructiveness. You just could not design a worse approach.</p>
  • <p>There are some new absolute doozies that the government has come up with. It's not enough that they give cheap fuel to the likes of Gina Rinehart and other big mining billionaires. And can I put on record that we do not object to the diesel fuel rebate for farmers. It has always been our policy not to object to that. I think Senator Birmingham tried to make an issue of that earlier today, so I'll take the opportunity to correct the record. That is only about an eighth of the fossil fuel subsidy, I might add. So we've still got cheap diesel to the likes of Gina and we've got various concessional excises on aviation gas and aviation turbine fuel.</p>
  • <p>The gas-fired recovery gets $31 billion. The government are in bed with oil, gas and coal and they're trying to champion gas as the solution. No! Wrong way! Gas is a fossil fuel. You've often got to wreck farmland to get to it. You've then got to use more energy to liquefy it for export, where it bumps up the price for domestic gas consumption. It has no saving grace whatsoever. The fact that the gas companies make massive donations to their political parties is not enough for those opposite to sacrifice our collective future and a liveable climate. For shame! But, yes, there's $31.9 billion for a so-called gas-fired recovery.</p>
  • <p>There are various other fossil fuel subsidies. There is accelerated depreciation. There is a deduction for coal, oil and gas exploration. You are now paying them to do their job so that while they wreck the climate they can make squillions in profits but not pay tax. 'What a great idea!' said no-one ever, except you lot, who take their massive donations. There is 'Advancing Australia's Gas-Fired Recovery'. There is something called 'Strategic Basin Plans', which, when you look at the fine print, means trying to open up the Galilee and the North Bowen to gas. I thought you were trying to open it up for coal, but now you want to open it up for gas as well. The First Nations mobs are not going to be impressed. They haven't given their consent to your attempt to extract coal from those regions, let alone your attempt now to speed up gas extraction.</p>
  • <p>They are just some of the old fossil fuel subsidies. There's a whole list of new ones that the government have added. There's an additional $1.1 billion in subsidies. They want to accelerate carbon capture and storage. It's like a unicorn&#8212;and I'll say sorry to my kids, who might still think they're real&#8212;it's just never going to happen. If private industry want to use their own money to try to make it work, they should go for it, but why on earth should they get public subsidies rather than reducing their emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources?</p>
  • <p>There's money for gas industry road upgrades in the Northern Territory. Again, I know a few First Nations mobs who are desperately underwhelmed at that suggestion.</p>
  • <p>Unfortunately, I've run out of time. The list of fossil fuel subsidies is so long that seven minutes has not been enough for me to go through all of them. The government are once again just doing the bidding of oil, coal and gas. They don't give a damn about the climate or the community.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Eric Abetz</p>
  • <p>Good environmental stewardship is something that we in the coalition believe in and believe in exceptionally strongly. It makes sense, and that is why we are delivering. We are delivering, for example, with our plan which beats our Kyoto targets, and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 target in relation to the reduction of CO2 emissions.</p>
  • <p>But something I won't subscribe to is scaremongering and the sort of language that suggests we are facing climate collapse. This has been the mantra for decades on end, with prediction after prediction coming in as false and unsubstantiated. For example, Madam Acting Deputy President, how often have we heard from the media in this country that Maldives is about to disappear under the water? Indeed, if we were to believe the predictions we would believe that Maldives had disappeared and that the population had had no drinking water for the past 28 years. The predictions being made 28 years ago were that this was about to happen. Well, they've kept on for those 28 years.</p>
  • <p>Even more interestingly for those who might be listening and wondering what has happened to Maldives, which is under such existential threat of climate change and is sinking under the water, a question on notice to Foreign Affairs provided me with this information:</p>
  • <p class="italic">We understand from publicly available information that a number of infrastructure projects have been undertaken in Maldives in recent years, including bridges, airports and tourism-related infrastructure.</p>
  • <p>Who on earth would invest in these things if they believed they were going to disappear underwater tomorrow or the next day? What is more, these include the ongoing expansion of Velana International Airport. The government of the Maldives further announced in 2019 that not one, not two, not three, not four, but five new airports would be built, in a country that is allegedly going to disappear underwater. That prediction has now been made year after year&#8212;28 years ago all of that was supposed to be happening&#8212;yet people are still confident in investing in the Maldives with not one but five new airports and new hotels. Who on earth would be making such an investment if they honestly believed that their investment would be underwater within the next few years?</p>
  • <p>But we as a government believe that it is appropriate to look at the issue of good environmental stewardship, not with hyperventilation and false predictions, dealing not with ideology but with technology, asking the question: can we clean up the atmosphere? The answer is yes. Can we do that in a responsible, measured way? Yes, hence we have been able to beat our Kyoto targets and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 target. How do we continue to do that? By looking at technology and seeing what can be done if we can invest some of our funding for this purpose. We have a $20 billion fund called the Technology Investment Roadmap, and that will deliver for us the technology needed so that we can meet our targets without mugging our economy.</p>
  • <p>At the end of the day what we have to accept and realise is that if we want to maintain and keep our standard of living we need reliable, affordable energy, and something that this nation has not done so well over the last two or three decades has been to invest in base-load energy. I for one believe that if you are genuinely concerned about the environmental matters of CO2, chances are nuclear energy would be and should be an option for consideration&#8212;nothing more, just consideration. But to say we will not look at a technology for only one reason, ideology, is to sell our fellow Australians short. What we need is to look at all technologies and consider what is the best and most affordable.</p>
  • <p>The reason that Australia is a First World economy is not that we have no regulations. Some would argue we are overregulated. It is not that we have cheap wages in comparison to the rest of the world. Some might argue they are relatively high. We are blessed to be able to have those relatively high wages in Australia. Or is it that we are so close to other markets in the world? No, it is not. The thing that has allowed us for so long to be a First World economy has been the ability to have cheap, reliable energy. In the 1990s we had some of the cheapest energy in the world. Today we have some of the most expensive energy in the world, and then we wonder why it is that manufacturing has decamped from Australia and gone elsewhere. Well, energy is a vital component in manufacturing, and the market will undoubtedly speak in relation to that.</p>
  • <p>The country of my birth in recent times, I understand, which has been so reliant on renewable energy, had a problem with a heavy snowfall. All the solar panels were covered, and when there are heavy snowfalls, there is usually no wind. Guess what? They had to import energy from France made with Australian uranium. What that teaches us is that renewable energy, nice as it might be, cannot deliver the base-load energy, unless you have the blessing of a whole lot of hydro power like we do in my home state of Tasmania.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Hon. Senators</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>