House debates

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Bills

Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019, Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2019; Second Reading

5:12 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources) Share this | Hansard source

This is a highly technical bill but an important bill. The opposition will be supporting it, but I move:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes the Government's failure to adequately promote the development and commercialisation of carbon reducing technologies".

We know, if we're being honest, that often second reading amendments are designed to launch an attack on the government or highlight a failing. That's not my intention on this occasion. My intention is really to lament that more is not being done on the technology side of the equation to deal with the very serious challenges we have in climate change and the challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

I don't propose to repeat the details of this bill. The minister in his second reading speech has laid out the intentions, objectives and details of the bill. Suffice it to say that this bill removes impediments to and facilitates the storage of greenhouse gas emissions offshore, largely by dealing with a number of state-Commonwealth jurisdictional issues and other legislative impediments. On that basis we support the bill, and I acknowledge the work being done by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments to further the important cause of offshore storage of greenhouse gas emissions. It is very, very important. Alone, of course, it is very small. I lament the fact that we're not doing more as a country in the area of technology in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is interesting that, given that we spend so much time in this place, both here and in the Senate, in our various media interviews et cetera talking about the challenge of the changing climate and the need to act meaningfully in making our contribution to global efforts, we spend very little time talking about it in this chamber. That is somewhat strange. It should change. If we're going to identify it as such a significant challenge, and it is, and as such an important challenge, and it is, and a challenge so in need of a response, then we should be talking about it more in this place. We should be talking more on an economy-wide basis. We should be talking more about mitigation on an economy-wide basis.

At the moment, we don't really have a carbon constraint. We have a safeguards mechanism, which is very soft and very ineffective. Since the government gave up on any form of a NEG, then that's it in this country. On electric cars, we're way behind the rest of the world. Carbon capture and storage has had its funding cut by this government and is behind the eight ball. In forestry we could be doing more on abatement, if the government would only change the water rule and allow investment to flow further into plantations. There is so much more, such as in hydrogen. I know we've had the Finkel report, and I know the government is doing some things to further progress the opportunities the hydrogen sector presents to us, but, still, we are moving at a snail's pace.

I thought that, if there were an issue that called upon bipartisanship, it would be this one. We've been in climate wars for almost all of the time I've been here, and that's a long, long time—for at least two decades. The community is crying out for us to do something collectively, and I think it's pastime we put those wars behind us and found some bipartisanship, a political sentiment, on this issue and acted meaningfully. I think that we would be well rewarded in all sorts of ways by the Australian community, including in the area of our own credibility in our community.

We need economy-wide action. We need at least as much focus on technology as we have on mitigation. We need more focus on abatement. We need to be spending as much time on abatement as we spend on mitigation. There are opportunities here. We extend together a hand of bipartisanship here. Let's not be so reliant on the mitigation side, as important as that is. Let's continue to work on the adaptation side. Let us get focused on the wonderful opportunities we have in the technological area. Sadly, in the past we've seen this government attempt to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and abolish ARENA. I've said they've cut the funding to the carbon capture and storage program. I think it's time for the government to rethink its approach and get some money flowing into these programs—the sort of money we need to make them successful and to allow us to strut the stage as a small country, sure, but as a country that's leading the world on climate change action.

Comments

Bill Thomson
Posted on 12 Feb 2020 11:30 am (Report this comment)

We already *have* the technology proven to achieve the scale of decarbonisation required. But your party just supported a motion against it in the Senate on this very day!!

Bill Thomson
Posted on 12 Feb 2020 12:08 pm (Report this comment)

So much for your bipartisanship.

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