House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Private Members' Business


11:20 am

Photo of Tania LawrenceTania Lawrence (Hasluck, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

This is an odd motion by the member for Grey, but it does allow members of the government party to speak about the government's many initiatives in energy policy and important actions in cybersecurity, so I thank the member, and I speak against the motion. The member for Grey is from South Australia. His state has a proud record on the rollout of renewables, and, even though I expect he can't take much of the credit for that, he should be coming here crowing about his state's achievements. Instead, we get phrases like 'rush towards 82 per cent renewables' and, somehow in the same motion, 'dithering'. The member cannot have it both ways. Much of the solar and wind power that now largely runs the state of South Australia originates from the sun and wind in the seat of Grey. The member should be very proud and should be a warrior for the transition.

It is important to set targets and do whatever is necessary to achieve them. In renewables, this is a novel concept after 10 years of, well, dithering by the previous government. This government, in just a year, has made great investments in renewables, as the motion indicates. This is a good thing and much needed. Before the change of government, emissions continued to trend upwards. In July last year, the CSIRO and the Energy Market Operator confirmed that renewables like wind and solar are the cheapest form of energy.

This government has invested in ARENA to power solar research; taken concrete steps to unlock the power of offshore wind; supported a groundbreaking thermal energy storage project in the Hunter and another in Broken Hill; invested to fast-track connection to the National Electricity Market of the country's largest wind farm precinct in Queensland; and legislated our emissions reduction targets, which the member for Grey voted against, which is very telling. What does the member tell the solar and wind companies in Grey about the fact that he voted against emissions reduction targets?

We have supported renewable hydrogen production in Karratha, Brisbane, the Hunter, Gladstone, Townsville and Whyalla, rewiring the nation to allow more renewables to reach consumers and to fortify the energy system. We speak to partners at COP and other international fora on climate issues, and not with empty words to empty rooms. And, of course, we legislated a $10 billion National Reconstruction Fund with a mandate to invest in renewables and low-emissions technologies.

The movement to 100 per cent renewables will have a long tail. The last 18 per cent may take a lot longer than the first 82 per cent, but this transition is part of the government's responsible response to the climate realities that confront us. The climate news is bad. The use of the word 'rush' in this motion is, in itself, intemperate, for a rapid movement is exactly what is called for. We need to transition at whatever top speed is realistic, and we need to become leaders in our region, assisting our neighbours to transition, too.

The motion cautions that Chinese made electronics might contain spyware. Firstly, let's take a breath and assume that it might be improbable that the Chinese would want to keep a close eye on each Australian residence's power consumption. Nevertheless, the government has been very active in the area of cybersecurity. First and foremost, we have a minister for cybersecurity in the cabinet. Apparently, we're dithering, but those opposite didn't even have a minister for cybersecurity when we took office.

Well, they did have one for a couple of years, until 2018, and then they didn't. There's some classy dithering for you! With the Minister for Cyber Security in cabinet, this government has initiated the development of the new Australian Cyber Security Strategy, led the new International Counter Ransomware Task Force, implemented the risk management program to strengthen the resilience of critical infrastructure and essential services, held the Prime Minister's Cyber Security Roundtable in February, established the National Office of Cyber Security and appointed the National Cyber Security Coordinator in June. Just three days ago, we declared another 87 critical infrastructure assets to be systems of national significance, bringing the total to 168 across the energy, communications, transport, financial and data sectors. Unsurprisingly, in March, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked us No. 1 in the world among countries showing the greatest progress in and commitment to enhancing cybersecurity.

One of the reasons the government changed in May 2022 is that the Australian people want to see action across a range of areas, after years of coalition dithering. This government has been more active on climate change in 16 months than the previous coalition government was in nine years. We've been more active on cybersecurity than any government ever and, at the same time, more useful both in defence and in mending relationships with our neighbours, including our relationship with China.


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