House debates

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022; Second Reading

4:39 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022 is a critical bill. Let's be clear: if you vote for this bill, then you're in favour of acting on climate change and cutting emissions. If you vote for this bill, you're in favour of saving 205 million tonnes of emissions to 2030; that's the equivalent of taking two-thirds of the Australian car fleet off the roads. If you vote for this bill, you're in favour of investment certainty so business can get on and actually reduce emissions. But if you vote against this bill then you're against real action on climate change and cutting emissions, like the LNP over there. We're not allowed to call them the 'no-alition'. If you vote against this bill then you're the enemy of progress. You're more interested in protest than progress, like the Australian Greens political party that skulk over there. If you vote against this bill then you're prepared to sit by and let Australia's emissions rise by 20 per cent, rather than supporting a cut of 43 per cent by 2030 and a move towards net zero. (Quorum formed) Stunts and tantrums are us over there for the rest of the day, it looks like.

These reforms are the first chance for a decade to implement transformative climate action that actually gets us towards net zero, after a decade of delay, dysfunction, dithering and decay. The LNP have made themselves irrelevant in this debate—let's be very clear—by just saying no, no, no—no to action on climate change. That's despite calls from right across industry for bipartisan support for investment certainty and despite the fact that this is their mechanism that we're using. They've even found a way now to vote against themselves. They've voting no to themselves now. This is their mechanism that the government's putting forward. They are doing this despite the scientific advice and just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report was released, which should be sobering. It underscores the need for action on climate change after a decade of dithering, talk and discussion. But they struggle to understand science, Deputy Speaker. They struggle to understand the economic imperative for business certainty. They even struggle to understand words. Sometimes, when we say that, they say, 'Well, they're just words.' What else would they like? Well, pictures, actually. We can illustrate the point with pictures. If the words and the arguments don't give the argument, look, there's a picture. Remember him? That's the old member for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman. What happened to him? Oh, he lost his seat to a teal.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Bruce will put the prop down. It will assist the House if you use no props.

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, I seek leave to table a picture of the former member for North Sydney.

Leave not granted.

What about the former future Prime Minister Dave Sharma, anyone? What happened to him? I seek leave to table a picture of Dave Sharma.

Leave not granted.

Jason Falinski is not a former future Prime Minister. He lost his seat too on climate change. I seek leave to table a picture of Jason Falinski.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Bruce will sit down. Member for Cowper?

4:45 pm

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Member be no longer heard.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Bruce is not helping himself. Order!

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by the honourable member for Cowper be disagreed to.

4:56 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to thank the House and particularly my colleagues for not calling for conscience vote. I think that's very decent of you. Without trying to repeat the infraction— (Time expired)

Photo of Luke HowarthLuke Howarth (Petrie, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I say to the member for Bruce: I'm still in this place, and we're not supporting the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022. It's a privilege today to stand here in this House and bring clarity to the Australian public about what lies beneath the surface of this bill and why the coalition will be voting against this new tax, which would be passed on to the Australian public.

I live in the electorate of Petrie, which is located in Brisbane's north and the Moreton Bay region. It's a beautiful electorate, filled with freshwater creeks, saltwater creeks, mangrove ecosystems and the life they support, and coral reefs growing in the waters of Moreton Bay. When it comes to looking after the environment, I'm a big supporter, and so is a coalition. We rolled out projects like the Green Army, which made a real difference to local communities on the ground in suburbs in my electorate, like Griffin, Mango Hill and Clontarf. It was a hands-on, practical environmental action program rolled out right across Australia.

When it comes to supporting and caring for the environment, I'm all for it. Take what the member for Sydney is doing to protect the waters surrounding Macquarie Island. That's a good policy, but the policy that we're seeing here is bad policy because it will hurt Australians and put up the cost of living. We might see emissions on our side of the equator drop, but the economic consequences for many businesses will only push further production off our shores, and the very solar panels and wind turbines that the Albanese government wants to replace coal and gas with, required to power renewable energy, will all be manufactured in China. Over 97 per cent of solar panels are manufactured in China. That's what we're replacing coal and gas with.

This is a big issue. We're putting these emissions into the hands of a country that is responsible for over 25 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. No-one is denying the fact that we have to take care of the environment, but the policies that we pass in this place should be responsible and considered decisions that will grow our economy, protect livelihoods and not make people poorer. The coalition government showed that this can be done, and I want to thank the people of Petrie for backing the coalition at the last election and the results that we delivered.

The truth is that it doesn't need to be a choice between the two. We can lower emissions, keep the environment clean and support the economy without taxing the people that we represent. The coalition delivered on climate change while still growing the economy and protecting everyday Australians from bearing the cost. The coalition created a plan to achieve net zero by 2050—27 years away. That would give ample time for industry to replace emissions in considered and achievable ways. We were also on track to meet and exceed our target at the last election by 2030. Emissions would reduce under the former coalition government's roughly 35 per cent. This plan better protected our industry. It better protected Australian jobs. It better protected small businesses and it better protected people's cost of living. It wasn't a new tax like this Labor government is doing now.

What the government is proposing abandons Australian industry and threatens jobs. It will cripple small and family business. It will send more manufacturing overseas, despite the rhetoric of this government prior to the last election about bringing more manufacturing back. It passes a tax on to everyday Australians. Because what the government is proposing is quite simply to implement a tax from now on. Let's be clear: this is not a tax just on big business; it's a tax that will affect everyday Australians, people on pensions, people on middle incomes, students, everyone. BlueScope Steel will be hit with this tax. We all use those products in our houses when we do extensions, putting a new carport out the front or building a new home with a steel frame.

Cement Australia will also be hit. So if you want to put in a new driveway in your home, or if you want to put a new cement slab for a shed out the back, or perhaps your son or daughter has got their learner's permit and is about to get their Ps and you need a new place for them to park and you're putting in more concrete, Cement Australia will be hit by this tax under Labor's bill.

The coalition believe in developing responsible and achievable targets by working with industry and industry groups to achieve real and sustainable change. Industry are on board and already making change. They don't need tax; they need partnership and innovation. They need support and time to achieve what has already been proved to work. Businesses and the Australian people are on board with a plan to reduce emissions. Under our government, the former coalition government, we acted and delivered.

Let me take a moment to outline exactly what we delivered when in government. We saw the results. Under the coalition electricity prices fell by eight per cent for households. Electricity prices fell 10 percent for small business and 12 per cent for industry. In the 10 months of this government we are already seeing massive increases in electricity and not just electricity, in mortgages and in the cost of living in general. Mortgage repayments, for example, have doubled. If anyone has got a home loan, you'll know that your mortgage repayment has doubled, and you'll know that electricity bills and gas prices are going up. For nine years of the coalition government electricity prices fell eight per cent; 10 per cent for the small businesses and 12 per cent for industry. We still managed to achieve a 22 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels.

We did all this by overseeing record installations of renewable energy over the past three years, which saw record numbers of households take up initiatives like solar panels, helping to lower their power prices. We put more renewable energy into the grid in one year than the Labor government did in the previous six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments. Compared with the six years of the last Labor government, we did more in one year. We unlocked gas supply in Narrabri and the Beetaloo basin to support our manufacturers and firm renewables. What does that mean? It means that when people in my electorate turn on the barbecue on Saturday, they can a steak and still be able to buy gas at a reasonable price. What we are seeing in the 10 months since the Albanese Labor government was elected is gas prices increasing by 75 per cent.

We committed to net zero and put in place a technology investment roadmap to guide investment of $22 billion in new energy technologies, working with industry and small businesses to effect real and achievable change. We met and beat our targets without legislating them, without putting more red tape in. We all remember this government last time saying, 'Well, we'll legislate it.' That does nothing—doesn't do anything. We're actually beating our targets. We beat our 2020 target by 459 million tonnes, and we're on track to meet and beat our 2030 target and achieve an up to 35 per cent reduction in emissions. We did this when we were in government, the former Liberal-National government, seeing our emissions reduce by 22 per cent below 2005 levels whilst growing the economy by over 45 per cent in the same period. This means we reduced emissions faster than many of our peers, including Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. The coalition stood for real initiatives that act to make a difference in both our economy and our environment. What the coalition doesn't stand for is policy that is half explained and riddled with hidden details, that blindly proposes to be an effective climate change policy that will not only botch our economy but hurt it at the expense of everyday Australians.

I've outlined our government's record on climate, and I have to be honest that I'll admit that this Albanese government is on track to be a legacy-making government, but with a legacy of the wrong things. It's a legacy of empty words, a legacy of big announcements and a legacy of mistruths. The Albanese Labor government went to the election full of promises, but the Australian people are starting to see what they are truly full of, and it can be summed up in two words, 'broken promises'. These are big words, broken promises, big promises, but the Albanese government has now been exposed as the 'empty words and broken promises' government. But don't just take my word for it. Let's take a moment to outline the delivery of some of their record-making promises in just the first 10 months of their government.

Remember the promise to cut our electricity bill by $275? Broken. Remember the promise of cheaper mortgages? Everyone in the gallery will know your mortgages have doubled, yet Mr Albanese said, 'I will lower mortgages.' That's what he said at the Labor campaign launch in May last year. But he comes into this place every day and says, 'Oh, they started under the previous government.' I think there was one interest rate rise under the previous government; this mob have had nine, and this guy promised to lower mortgages. Remember the promises of no changes to super? 'No changes to super—none,' said Prime Minister Albanese. But then broken, broken. 'We're going to double your tax on super for those people that have $3 million in super.' It's not indexed, so that means that when your kids in 30 or 40 years from now and the figure is still at $3 million, do you know what that will be worth? I won't guess, but I'd say a lot less than what it's worth today. They're increasing the tax on super in law from 15 per cent to 30 per cent. They're not putting it up by five per cent or 10 per cent; they're putting it up by 100 per cent. But Mr Albanese, the Prime Minister, said no changes to super before the last election.

Remember the promise to lower inflation? All these newbies over here probably put up on their Facebook page, 'Inflation's out of control under the member for Cook, Mr Morrison.' But what's happened since? Inflation is up around eight per cent. It's almost doubled as well since they came to office. Remember the promise, 'We're not touching franking credits'? That was broken as well. Remember the promise, 'Industrywide bargaining is not part of our policy'? That was broken as well. Remember the promise, 'We're not raising taxes'? That's broken in this bill, which is why we're not voting for it. Remember the promise to cut the costs of consultants and contractors? Broken.

Who can forget today's example? Yesterday in this House, the Attorney-General made an unhinged and unfounded attack on the Leader of the Opposition about the Nazi protest in Melbourne which, in my opinion, should have been stopped immediately. Yet today, when the Leader of the Opposition moved to amend standing orders to move a motion to outlaw Nazi symbols and the hatred they represent, every Labor member voted against it—every single one of them. That's the absolute hypocrisy of this Labor government, the sheer hypocrisy of the Leader of the House to call this serious motion a stunt, yet when the Leader of the House was the Manager of Opposition Business, as everyone will know, he used to come in here and pull stunts every day of the week. And within half an hour of doing so they would all have tiles up, probably including the member for Cooper and others opposite. Those opposite would all put their tiles up. Well, the Greens should put up tiles on the member for Macnamara, who today voted against having a motion to outlaw the Nazi symbol. If the Greens were smart, they would get their candidate with that up real quick. The Labor government talk of integrity and transparency but have again showed they are hypocrites, and this bill is the very definition of it.

At a time when everyday Aussies are trying to balance their own budgets and when Aussie business owners are working every day to make ends meet, Labor refuse to give clarity about the details of this bill and what it will mean for the people that we represent by releasing modelling requested by the Senate. Well, today, I'm very happy to help Australia out with some clarity on what this bill will mean for everyday Australians, because, quite simply, they deserve to know where their hard-earned money is going. They deserve to know what they are paying for and what this bill really is—in summary, a carbon tax 2.0 that will be passed on to Australians by the businesses that Labor are taxing. Always, always, people will pay more under Labor. Always, when Labor run out of money, they will increase taxes and come after yours. The truth is that this bill will see hardworking Australians once again hit by Labor.

In stark opposition, the coalition government, when we were in power, set out a clear plan to achieve net zero by 2050 without any new taxes, supporting a carbon trading system that rewarded businesses which voluntarily reduced their emissions. But this empty-word broken-promise government will be hiding behind dodgy and bad environmental policy to implement a tax that will pack a punch at a time when taxpayers are already hurting. The problem is, though, that the Australian people don't see this one coming. In fact, I'll call this the king hit of taxes. We won't be supporting this bad policy.

5:11 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm not shocked, but I'm incredibly sad, that members in the coalition are unable to see their way to supporting a reduction of emissions in Australia, taking an important first step towards real climate action in this nation. It's as though nothing was learned from the last 10 years of climate wars and inaction or indeed from the last election.

Well, whether those opposite like it or not, Australia now has legislated its emissions reduction targets, and the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022 which we are debating today is central to the policy of delivering on those targets. That was announced back in December 2021 as part of our Powering Australia plan, and it was endorsed by the Australian people at the last election, in May last year. The safeguard reforms are expected to save 205 million tonnes of emissions in the period up to 2030. That's equivalent to taking two-thirds of all Australian cars off the road over that same period.

I cannot how understand anybody in this chamber could not support this if they read—even if they took a cursory glance at—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that has just been handed down. If ever there was a warning to the Australian parliament about need to act swiftly on reducing our emissions, it is that.

Reforms to the safeguard mechanism were not only endorsed by the Australian people last May, which is the best endorsement you can get; they have now been consistently recommended and supported by business and industry alike. We've got organisations that often come to these places with different opinions to some of us on government benches and some of us on the crossbench, but they are united. That's organisations like the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and ACCI.

Those people opposite had grand plans previously for safeguard credits, which they announced back in May 2020; that was in response to the King review, if I'm not mistaken. Then they had an opportunity in the May 2021 budget to have another crack at implementing the safeguard credit system. Then, in their crediting consultation paper of August 2021 and their long-term plan in October— (Quorum formed) Seriously, I probably would have called a quorum too if I had the track record of those opposite and their efforts!

Not only did those opposite miss every opportunity during the last nine years to actually do something about real action on climate change; they proposed a series of reforms, including some of which that are counted now in this safeguard mechanism bill before the Australian parliament, but they failed to deliver them in government and now they want to oppose this bill because someone else has actually improved it and wants to bring it back to the Australian parliament and do something about it.

We've had a decade now of delay, denial and dysfunction, which we see on display again each and every day. They've had all this opportunity and failed on every occasion to do anything other than offering up some half-baked scare campaigns. We saw a little bit of that with the member for Petrie just moments ago. It's the same campaign they want to trot out again. It's the same old talking points. Well, wakey-wakey. In May 2022 the Australian people showed, 'We're not buying that.' They are not buying it.

It is incumbent on each and every one of us in this place to actually start taking seriously the challenges before this nation. Reducing emissions is part of a considered plan to decarbonise our economy as the world is looking to decarbonise its economy. It's making sure Australia is not being left behind. These mechanisms are not just good for our environmental measures; they're great for our economic measures and they're essential for the future wellbeing of generations to come. So it is unfathomable to me that those opposite, and maybe even some on the crossbench who are still trying to figure out their positions, would put at risk an opportunity to take an important first step in being able to attain those legislated targets.

Australia needs to fulfil our obligation internationally, and we need to fulfil the commitment we've made to the Australian people. I would just remind the House and members opposite: your own constituent groups, your own stakeholder meetings, would be telling you the same things that we're being told. I suspect that the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who I referred to earlier in this speech, could not be more convincing in their criticism of the approach now being taken by opposition members.

5:22 pm

Photo of Angie BellAngie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Member be no longer heard.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by the honourable member for Moncrieff be disagreed to.

5:31 pm

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member's time has expired. A point of order from the Leader of the House.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm just seeking your advice, and I'll briefly check with the clerks—given that the clock runs down during the course of the division, does that mean it is still open to the House to receive a motion that the member's time be extended?

5:32 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the member for Newcastle be granted an extension of time.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

There's a lot of people who are out of the chamber. You shouldn't call a one-minute division if there are going to be people outside who otherwise would be here.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, I did seek advice, and the advice was for one minute.

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, there's going to be a lot of people not here.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, that was the advice that I was given. Is the request for the division to be recommitted? If it suits the convenience of the House, I will state the question and ring the bells for four minutes. The question is the motion moved by the Leader of the House be agreed to.

5:40 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

CLAYDON (—) (): I can certainly say that the delay, denial and dysfunction we saw over the last 10 years has just been writ large for the Australian people to see in the last 10 minutes. More of the same from those members opposite. I can also say that, having listened for hours and hours to members opposite speaking on the safeguard mechanism—indeed, having sat in that chair and presided over many hours of debate, listening to them speak on this—it is astonishing that they should try to gag me, or anybody, on this side of the chamber. I've got to tell you, the people of Newcastle won't take kindly to you gagging voices that differ to yours. That's what you've done. Now that you've got through your speaking list, and others on this side have got a few things to say about reducing emissions in this country and driving some real action on climate change, you want to gag that voice. You want to gag it. It is despicable behaviour from members opposite.

I have got no doubt that the truth hurts when your own constituency base, like the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, say to you that it is very clear that support for these reforms is necessary in order to drive good planning, good investment and good innovation in this country. They know the requirement to decarbonise our economy. They understand. But they don't want to be sacrificing everything in that process. They want an orderly, planned process for what needs to happen. We have been consulting for months and months now to provide the plan. We talked to the Australian people; we got the mandate for it. Now it's on the table for debate, and members opposite want to gag this debate. They want to gag this debate. Well, we know that it will add to what those industry groups have already said to those opposite, both in private and in public—that is, their past failure to deal with the realities before us has crimped certainty for industry and investors. It's left our energy sector in Australia in disarray. That's not Labor saying that. That is the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Australian businesses and households are paying the price for the dithering, delay and incompetence of those in the former government and administration.

Why is this bill so necessary? We've heard from those industry groups about the economic necessity for these reforms. And the people of Australia understand about the need to start acting swiftly. We've all read the intergovernmental climate change report that came out last week. There's no time to waste. There are no more opportunities for dithering or for a decade of inaction. I'd say to all members in this House: this is your opportunity. Whether you are sitting on benches opposite or on benches on the crossbench, this is your opportunity to get behind the single-most important reform, to be responsible, to be part of the solution, to think about the need to deliver some progress, not simply protest, whether it is in opposition or because you want to see something more. This is not the time to hold the Australian people to ransom with more inaction. Surely we have learnt something from the more than a decade now of unrelenting climate wars, of unrelenting inaction? Surely we have learnt something.

We cannot go back to that deep, dark place. We can't afford to go back in any sense of the word 'afford'. This is a time now for real action. This is a time to support the best plan that is before the Australian parliament to reduce a massive amount of carbon emissions in our environment. As I said earlier on, it is like ripping two-thirds of cars from Australian roads today; that's the kind of impact we are talking about.

Seriously, if you are to vote against this today you vote against progress. No-one wants to see no action. I think we can learn many things from the results of the last election. There is nobody out there saying, 'Please do not do anything on climate change in this country.' There is no-one. It doesn't matter if you are in remote, regional or metropolitan Australia. The Australian people are far more advanced than many people sitting in this chamber in terms of their understanding of the need to act and to act now.

There is a choice for those opposite and a choice for those on the crossbench. You can join with us to make progress, to deliver on a commitment to the Australian people to reduce our carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. You can join us now and be part of that. Or you can just sit and protest or make a point, but there is a profound difference between progress and protest in this regard. I am here to make progress. Everybody on this side of the House is saying: 'We want to make progress. We are here. We are deeply committed to reducing emissions, to decarbonising our economy, to ensuring we progress without leaving anybody behind in our society. We are committed to that progress.' People who want to make a point can do that, but making a point is not progress. There are lessons in our history, our recent history, that would be good for everyone to consider. I urge you all to support this bill.

5:48 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022. You would think that one of the first things you would make sure of when designing a climate policy is that pollution from coal and gas would come down. That's because coal and gas are the causes of the climate crisis. Labor wants more coal and gas. More coal and gas means more pollution going into our atmosphere and the climate crisis being turbocharged.

There has been much talk about progress and action and what this policy actually does. It may have escaped some of the members of the government that this policy actually can allow pollution from coal and gas to go up. Why is it that it not only allows it but the government's own forecasts say coal and gas pollution is going to go up under this? Why is that the case? Two reasons: because new coal and gas mines can come into the system without any restriction and because the coal and gas mines that are here already can keep on polluting as long as they buy a few tree-planting permits and count that as a pollution cut. Government members on the backbench may not have sat down and actually read the policy, but actually pollution from coal and gas can go up and is forecast to go up. They're the three words that this government dare not say, 'coal and gas'.

We have been given a very clear final warning this week by world scientists and the UN Secretary-General. He singled out countries like Australia, and he said something very, very clearly. He said we are on the verge of going over the climate cliff. Why that's critical is the decisions that we make now will determine whether we can keep climate change under control or it becomes a runaway chain reaction that our kids and our grandkids cannot wind back. That is a world of pain, a world of devastation, a world of worse droughts, floods and fires, and they will not be able to put the genie back in the bottle. He said to countries like Australia, 'I've got one thing that I want you to do that's critical: stop opening up new coal and gas projects.'

I ask all those Labor interjectors: are you now prepared to say you'll stop opening coal and gas? No, they're not prepared to say they won't open new coal and gas, and so, at the same time as the UN Secretary-General is saying very, very clearly that countries like Australia have got to stop opening up coal and gas, the government and the opposition say: 'We don't care. We're going to act as if we haven't heard a thing you've said.' You can't put the fire out while you're pouring petrol on it. If this is a genuine attempt to fix a problem, surely the first step is to stop making the problem worse. That is what confronts us here and now, a simple question because climate change and global warming are caused by the burning of coal and gas.

There's a simple question people in this House need to answer: do you want more coal and gas or not? Do you want to open up new coal and gas mines or not? At the moment everyone except the Greens and people on the crossbench are saying they want more coal and gas in the middle of a climate crisis. That is something they will have to answer for to their constituents and their kids and grandkids because opening new coal and gas now, after we have heard this very clear warning, is not only negligent, but it's a criminal. It's absolutely criminal to say we need more coal and gas in the face of the warnings from world scientists and the UN Secretary-General that we've heard this year—absolutely criminal. There are no other words for it.

I want to hear those people interjecting on both sides explain why they want more coal and gas. Go to those flood-hit areas and see people still trying to recover from the flood and the fires and the drought, walk into those communities and tell them that opening up more coal and gas mines in the middle of a climate crisis is a good idea. They won't do it—they're not prepared to justify that because it is unjustifiable—it is simply unjustifiable. There has also been talk about what pollution might be cut from this scheme—assuming it's not all through offsets because it could all be through offsets. What they don't tell you is that even one big one of the 13 new coal gas projects that this government is forecasting will be opened before 2030—before 2030, 13 new coal and gas projects—just one of those, one big one of those, wipes out all the climate gains that will be made from the safeguard. They don't tell you that, but that's what will happen. Scarborough project, if that goes ahead, over 230 million tonnes—bang, there goes everything that supposedly has been saved by this mechanism. What the Australian people voted for was legislation that will see pollution go down, not up.

Photo of Sam RaeSam Rae (Hawke, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This delivers that.

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

There's an interjection that this delivers that.

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

To assist the honourable member for Melbourne, I'll make an observation for the benefit of the member for Hawke. The honourable member, whilst in the chamber, sat in silence and listened to alternative positions. I notice you're on the speaking list, and I hope the same courtesy is applied to you, my friend.

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

We got a very clear message at the last election from the Australian people. They want climate action. What did we see at the last election? We saw the vote for Labor go backwards and the vote for the coalition go backwards. What do they have in common? They both wanted more coal and gas. Whose vote went up? The Greens and Independents who said, 'It's time to stop opening coal and gas mines.' That should send this parliament a very clear message that taking action on climate means dealing with the question of coal and gas, not just saying it can all be offset but actually ensuring that pollution in this country does not go up.

As I've said, pollution from coal and gas is forecast to go up under this. There's no guarantee that the entities covered by the safeguard will actually cut their pollution at all. It could all be offset. We've invited any evidence to be put forward to show it'll be different, and there's none. It's why this scheme has been called by some 'a cap-and-trade scheme without a cap'—because pollution can go up, and is forecast to go up, from coal and gas.

The Australian people were very, very clear, though. They said, 'Take action on climate.' The opposition have said no. The opposition have said they're going to continue with their approach. That's not the approach the Greens are taking. The Greens are saying, 'We are prepared to work with the government but to develop a scheme that actually sees pollution go down and that tackles the question of coal and gas.' We can't keep infinitely opening up new coal and gas mines and think we'll meet our climate targets, because we won't.

We have been very clear that we will work with the government and continue to work with the government to see if we can find a way to pass climate laws in this country that will actually start cutting pollution and that will deal with this question of coal and gas. We have put on the table a very, very clear offer that, when you poll pretty much any electorate in this country—on the government side or the crossbench side—people back. We've said very simply to the government: 'Stop making the problem worse. Stop opening new coal and gas mines, and we'll pass this in full.' What could be the objection to that, unless you wanted to open new coal and gas mines? We've said we'll pass it in full. Just stop opening new coal and gas mines, because you can't put the fire out while you're pouring petrol on it. The first step to fixing a problem is to stop making the problem worse.

The message has been received from the government, loud and clear, that they want to keep opening coal and gas mines, and that is distressing. That is distressing for everyone who wants climate action, especially in a week where we've heard the IPCC say so clearly to countries like Australia that we can't keep opening up coal and gas mines. To hear Labor keep saying, 'Even if we get our scheme passed in full, we want to keep opening coal and gas mines,' is incredibly distressing to people right around the country who want climate action. But, all right, Labor wants to keep opening coal and gas mines. We will continue to have good faith discussions with the government to see if we can arrive at a position where we can pass laws where pollution actually starts to come down, not just through offsets for tree-planting permits or getting paid because you say that, because trees grew on your property, somehow you had something to do with it and so you should get some money for it. We know there are lots of dodgy schemes out there. We know that because of the review—the review told us that there have been a lot of dodgy schemes out there. Actually starting to bring down pollution in this country is something that I think the Australian people want to see. But at the moment this addiction to new coal and gas from the government, with the full-throated backing of the opposition, is getting in the way of real climate progress.

We've been put here with a record number of people voting for the Greens for the first time. There are a record number of members in this parliament that come from neither the opposition nor the government. We now have a situation in this country where less than a third of the country votes for the government—about a third votes for the opposition; about a third votes for someone else. And in this parliament, where the Australian people have said, 'We want climate action and we don't want anyone to have a whole majority'—no-one has got a majority in both houses of parliament—and where there are a record number of third voices, everyone is going to have to shift a bit if we are to pass laws that will see climate pollution cut.

The opposition have dealt themselves out. They've said they're not interested in any moves. We in the Greens will continue to have those discussions with the government, but as we do that we are going to be informed by the International Energy Agency, who have said that, to meet even the government's weak 'net zero by mid-century' goals, there can't be any new coal, oil or gas projects developed; by the world's scientists and the UN Secretary-General, who have just told us again in the loudest possible terms, in a final warning, this week that there can be no new coal and gas; and by our Pacific island neighbours, who come regularly and say, 'Please stop opening coal and gas mines, Australia, because it is an existential threat to our homes'. Even the Pope is on board with this.

We have got the science on our side and the people on our side. A majority of people know, because you learn it in primary school—every primary school student knows—that it's coal and gas that are causing global warming. If you wanted to tackle global warming, you would put less coal and gas pollution into the atmosphere. You wouldn't put more in there and then say you hope a few trees planted on the other side of the country cancel it out. You'd put less in. The message is being delivered to us in the clearest possible terms: stop opening new coal and gas mines if we want to have a decent chance of giving our kids a safer climate.

We are now on track to hit 1.5 degrees potentially as soon as 2030 or 2035, we've been told this week. That means game over for living in many parts of the world, because those areas will become uninhabitable. If we hit two degrees, we say goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef, and large parts of this country are going to be very difficult places to live in. That is what is facing us, and that's why serious action means tackling the causes of the climate crisis, which means tackling coal and gas. This government should just stop opening new coal and gas projects.

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I give the call to the honourable member for Hawke. You give it everything you want now.

6:03 pm

Photo of Sam RaeSam Rae (Hawke, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Sometimes, you turn the telly on, and New Zealand is playing a one-day game against Bangladesh. The lights are on, and it might be on the other side of the world, and you can't tell whether it's happening now or at some distant point in the past. I think viewers at home, Australians who are watching this debate in this chamber, when they're watching the Liberal and National parties stand up and prosecute the ridiculous points that they were running 10 years ago under Tony Abbott as their key arguments against addressing climate change, are rightly going to wonder which decade they are living through. (Quorum formed)For the benefit of the members opposite, I can absolutely assure you that, when it comes to this piece of legislation, Parliament House is full of government members—Labor members—who will come in as many times as you need them to come in who are willing to keep this House alive, despite all of the interjections and the disruptions of this parliament that you are seeking to provide, in order to ensure that we get this important legislation through, so you can carry on like petulant pork chops as long as you like.

We'll keep showing up. We know how important this piece of legislation is to the Australian economy and Australian jobs, and to dealing with the challenge you have left our country after a decade of inaction and incompetence. We'll keep coming in, so you can call as many quorum counts as you like, you can move that the speaker no longer be heard and you can continue to disrupt the parliament in your petty, petulant way as much as you like.

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask the member for Hawke to resume his seat. Is there a point of order?

6:09 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

On that perfect note, I move:

That the Member be no longer heard.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is the motion moved by the member for Page be disagreed to.

6:17 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Before I move that the member's time be extended, I just want to draw your attention to page 529 of Practice where there is discretion for the chair, with respect to motions for the closure of a member's speech, to decide whether or not the resolution is being moved for the purposes of obstructing the House.

I specifically raise it because we're about to get to the point—6.30 pm—where, if closure is moved, a division cannot take place if it's moved by someone other than a minister. For that reason, it would be an abuse because the House would be incapable of considering the question during the course of the opportunity for a member to speak. I raise that now. I appreciate that issue is not in front of us, but if the current conduct continues it'll be in front of us in about 10 or 15 minutes and so I just wanted to draw that to the attention of the chair.

I move:

That Mr Rae be granted an extension of time.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by the Leader of the House be agreed to.

6:26 pm

Photo of Sam RaeSam Rae (Hawke, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Representing the people and the communities of Hawke is the greatest honour of my life. It is a privilege that I appreciate every day, and it is a role and a responsibility that I take very seriously. It is a great shame on the member for Page and the Liberals opposite to come into this chamber to seek to disrupt the business of this elected parliament and this elected government and to silence the people and communities of Hawke. They are regularly afforded the opportunity to spout whatever rubbish they seek to carry on about. In this instance they have trotted out the same tired—

Photo of Keith PittKeith Pitt (Hinkler, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Point of order on relevance: this is a bill about the safeguard mechanism, and the member should be relevant.

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

You're irrelevant!

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Minister for Resources is out of her seat. If she continues to interject, she will be removed from the chamber. The member for Hawke will return to the bill before the House.

Photo of Sam RaeSam Rae (Hawke, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Those opposite will do anything they can to stop the safeguard mechanism bill being voted on. They will continue to disrupt this parliament and its work on a constant basis. As we know, they haven't moved on for the last decade, and they tried to hold Australia back with them. We're back to the same tired old lines that we heard constantly under Tony Abbott. It's the same regressive ways—their obsession with ignoring and trying to discredit the science of climate change and, of course, teaming up with whatever other reprobate group is around at any one moment in order to undermine real progress when it comes to addressing climate change.

As I said at the beginning of this speech, sometimes you turn on the cricket. It's a random channel. It's daytime where you are and night-time where they are, and you need to know whether that live button is there. For those sitting at home, they need the live button, because they turn it on and they see this mob opposite, these Liberals, still arguing against the science of climate change, still fighting against real policy that helps our economy, supports and creates jobs and transitions our economy to a clean climate future. This mob, these Liberals, are still arguing against it. They're arguing against the science of climate change. They're arguing against the policies that we need in order to transition, to keep our economy strong and to create jobs for Australian workers.

The safeguard mechanism is a critical component in reaching our legislated abatement targets. Let's remember that this government—our government, the Albanese Labor government—has a mandate for pursuing these legislated targets. The mandate is from the Australian people, and I know those opposite care little for the views of the Australian people. I know this government in exile over there, with all the arrogance of the born-to-rule mentality, care not for the election—where the Albanese government was thoroughly elected in majority, and they were absolutely smashed at the ballot box.

They not only lost their majority in this House but had a significant number of their seats transferred to the crossbench, to non-coalition members, because their own constituency was so fed up with their regressive approach to policy in this country, including in relation to climate change. And there's no lesson to be learnt, as far as they are concerned. The Australian people are just wrong. As far as they're concerned, when it comes to the views of the people of Hawke, they'll use whatever little trick they can manage to cobble together, in order to suppress and undermine the people of Hawke having their say in this place through me.

The safeguard mechanism is a critical component in carbon abatement and reaching our carbon abatement targets in this country, and they are legislated targets. We voted on it. This House voted on it. This parliament voted on it. You didn't have the numbers then and you don't have the numbers now. There's a reason for it: no-one's with you. The community are not with you. The business sector are not with you. Your constituents are not with you. You have been left behind. You are the dinosaurs of the climate change debate. You are the people who have nothing constructive to add.

Our government, the Albanese Labor government, continues to move forward. We continue to seek compromises and options for working across this parliament, in order to get real action on climate change, in order to protect our economy and in order to create the jobs of the future. This safeguard mechanism is how we do that. You guys came up with the idea! That's the amazing part. This is your policy. You wanted a safeguard mechanism. We are now implementing it, because like everything else that you threw up the flagpole with no intention of following through on, in your time in government, you were incapable of delivering a piece of policy like this.

This government, the Albanese Labor government, is getting on with delivering the safeguard mechanism, because it is a critical component of carbon abatement in this country, of lowering emissions, of transitioning our economy and of creating the jobs of the future. These reforms are expected to save 205 million tonnes of emissions in the period to 2030. That is equivalent to taking two-thirds of Australian cars off the road over the same period—two-thirds of Australian cars gone. That's the level of abatement this mechanism delivers.

It's supported by business. You know business. You guys used to talk to them. You used to work with them. You used to represent them. They won't have anything to do with you these days. But the business sector is on board. The business sector is demanding that this parliament act—as it should have done for the last decade, but you hindered it from doing so—that this parliament deliver certainty so that we can start to invest in an economy of the future, in a clean energy economy, and invest in the jobs that will come with it, rather than maintaining the inertia that you have created, that the previous Liberal government created.

The previous Liberal government did this by failing to move, failing to heed the science and obstructing any progress when it came to transitioning the Australian economy to a clean carbon future. They had grand plans, apparently, for the safeguard mechanism, announcing it in May 2020. That's two years before the election. They had two years—

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Hawke.

6:34 pm

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Hawke comes in here and tells us—lectures us—about business. It's good to see the Labor Party machine still works: working in a Labor Party office, secretary of the Labor Party, gets in here on the back of the Labor Party machine. On this side: business owner, business owner, business owner, business owner, business owner. He comes in here and—

Photo of Kristy McBainKristy McBain (Eden-Monaro, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm a business owner!

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

A business owner—thank you!

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Point of order: I'd ask the member to refer to the legislation before us.

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I think the member for Cowper is in order. He has a preamble. I will keep listening to the member. If he strays I'll let him know, but at the moment he's in order.

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. In considering the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill we consider business owners, and we also keep the most vulnerable populations in mind to represent an effective transition. For any policy change or innovation that we consider, including this one, we have to carefully consider our country's sovereignty and keep our economic prosperity in clear focus for our businesses. Without these, we are impotent to effect tangible and positive change.

Put simply, this bill will hurt businesses and vulnerable people. It does not inspire an effective transition, and that is what we on this side of the House have been saying. To suggest that we're dinosaurs, that we don't accept the science and that we're against effective action on climate change is just intellectual dishonesty. Not one of us who have spoken in the past two days has stood up and denied the science. What we are doing is saying that this bill will make zero difference. This bill is not effective. It is ill-conceived and ill-considered.

I should note that, like so many of Labor's policies, this bill disproportionally disadvantages regional Australia. That's who it hurts—our people, not the big cities. As a member of the National Party, I will always vote for the best interests of regional Australians. I can tell you that, when I walk around my electorate and speak to my businesspeople, my farmers, my mums and dads, my teachers and my doctors, they're not talking to me about emissions. Yes, they're concerned about the climate, but they're not talking to me about this bill. They're talking to me about the cost of living and how it's hurting out there. They're talking to me about interest rate rises. They're talking to me about the cost of groceries. The farmers are telling me that the cattle industry has fallen 30 per cent in the last 12 months, but their output costs have gone up 30 per cent. It's no surprise that, in the big supermarkets, meat prices have never been higher. Mums and dads are choosing not to buy steak, because it's $75 a kilo in Coles and Woolies. I don't need to be told that by my constituents, because I do the shopping. They're out there hurting—they're not considering this.

Again, as with other Labor-proposed policies, this is simply another punitive tax by stealth, rather than a true incentive. I'll use the example of my two teenage boys. If I want them to go out and study and achieve, I'll say to them, 'You achieve X in your exam and then I will give you Y.' I don't say to them: 'If you don't get X, you will be punished. This is what's going to happen to you.' That won't incentivise them, and neither will telling Australian businesses that they will be taxed. We need to incentivise businesses. We need to get them working together, working with government, rather than taxing them because all that will do is flow down the line, flow down the chain to—guess who? Our people, our poorest people, because it will simply be passed on. You can't create something by taxing it. It's an oxymoron in its truest form.

In the last sittings I spoke about the National Reconstruction Fund. That's a bill that this government insisted would drive and support the manufacturing industry in this country while wilfully ignoring some of the most important economic drivers of manufacturing success. What they wanted to do is get equity in your business. I couldn't think of anything worse than having government in my business. Businesspeople say: 'Stay away. Yes, we'll pay our tax, but I want nothing to do with government. Get your nose out of my business.' This bill continues that trend and simply puts another dampener and input cost on our potential to harness our considerable potential to grow, source and manufacture products, not just for our own population but also for international markets.

The suggestion by the member for Hawke and the member for McMahon that this is a continuation of an existing coalition policy is ludicrous. It is a bastardisation of what the coalition had put in. The mechanism proposed in this bill, as with the NRF, is set to increase the flow-on cost to the consumer and remove all the competitiveness of Australian products domestically and internationally. You are putting a barrier in front of business. As many of my colleagues have already outlined, including those on the crossbench—and I don't often refer to the crossbench—I don't believe the proposed changes and penalties will have the desired effect on this country's emissions. I'm going to quote the member for Warringah, which I never thought I would do. She very eloquently put it as 'an unfettered use of offsets to achieve reduction and a disincentive to invest in on-site abatement and real decarbonisation'. I will admit, we come to our conclusions in different ways, but on this we can agree. This mechanism is not fit for purpose.

For my own electorate and regional Australia as a whole I have to ask: where are these potentially massive or, as the member for Warringah put it, 'unfettered offsets' coming from? As my colleague the member for Hinkler stated last night, to achieve a 43 per cent reduction of CO2 by 2030, based on current projections, that's over 200 million tonnes of CO2. Given the fact that Australia as a whole is close to 768 million hectares, with more than 426 million hectares being agricultural land—land that Labor has recognised feeds not just the country but the whole world, and I believe I'm quoting the Prime Minister there—worth $90 billion, I ask: is the land that will be locked up in order to achieve these targets that agricultural land? Will it dismantle our ability to produce some of the world's finest agricultural products? The answers are yes and yes. This bill not only disincentivises investment into newer, cleaner technologies—and I do include nuclear—but also disincentivises our nation's $90 billion agricultural industry. Not only is it proposing that we facilitate the purchase of our important agricultural footprint, but we are actually incentivising farmers to sell their land to corporations with very, very deep pockets. Lock it up. No need for ongoing maintenance, no need for blood, sweat and tears—and the inability to feed the nation—just land bank it and get paid for it. Imagine all those jobs gone for the sake of an ill-conceived, ill-advised piece of legislation.

How on earth is this fruitful for our nation—a nation that produces just over one per cent of emissions around the world? I'm not saying we don't have our social responsibility, but we are effectively a pimple on a pumpkin in terms of our emissions.

If I can move to current technologies and potential future technologies that would meaningfully move the dial without punitive tax, why not pursue our existing capabilities for carbon capture in the first instance? The recent CSIRO report from just last November, Australia's carbon sequestration potential: a stocktake and analysis of sequestration technologies, specifically points to these current capabilities and acknowledges their immediate potential. The report states that current technical potential by 2050 is 227 gigatonnes of CO2, which would allow us time to meaningfully and effectively invest in cleaner technology right now and into the future as we advance.

In one breath, we happily spruik the benefits and superiority of nuclear submarines but ignore the same technology's capability within our own market. Why are we not incentivising industries to adopt existing advancements? Historically, I can understand the hesitation over nuclear, with large reactors, clunky technologies, issues with waste and by-product control, and management of aging facilities. But that's decades ago. Talking about these situations is like comparing a modern-day car to one built in the 1950s. There's no comparison. It's a ridiculous comparison. Technology has advanced significantly since then, and so have the potential benefits. So I ask the question: why are we only recognising submarines in this? It's bizarre. We should be looking at nuclear. The rest of the world is already embracing small modular reactors and in fact investing in the creation of microreactor technology. This is from nations who have not signed up to net zero and are the world's largest producers of emissions. Of all these countries around the world, we're the only ones saying: 'They're wrong. We're right. We're not going to look at it.'

In conclusion, I don't believe that this punitive model will produce the results we need as a nation, not in the true reduction of emissions nor in the safeguarding of our existing industries and future-proofing of our economy. It's certainly not good for Australian households. You can't create or build by taxing, you can't incentivise industry through punishment, and you can't put ideology first and disproportionately impact regional Australia. As such, I cannot support this bill.

6:49 pm

Photo of Andrew CharltonAndrew Charlton (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in support of the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill. Ten months ago to the day, the Albanese government was given a mandate by the Australian people. We were given a mandate to end the climate wars, to help end the suffering felt by disaster-stricken communities across Australia and to end the uncertainty felt by businesses and investors who had long ago abandoned their search for responsible climate leadership from the Australian government. That was 10 months ago, and we haven't wasted a single day in delivering on that mandate.

This mess we find ourselves cleaning up was 10 years in the making— a decade of a climate-sceptic coalition government that left Australia more isolated as the world moved forward to address climate change. That left the government more isolated from the businesses that the coalition purports to represent. It was a decade that left Australians from Parramatta to Lismore underprepared for the impacts of man-made climate change—something they were told time and time again wasn't a threat to their lives or livelihoods. It was a time when people spoke about climate change as a challenge for future generations. Its impacts were predicted to be long into the future. It was something that could be put on the backburner while the government of the day focused on whatever priorities they had.

Climate change has moved from a theory to an evidence based prediction to a current reality. In my election of Parramatta, we're already experiencing the effects of climate change every day. People experience searing hot summers. Their daily activities are affected by urban heat. Each year, Parramatta experiences 15 days above 35 degrees. Across Western Sydney, heatwaves are up to 10 degrees hotter than in other parts of the city. Our city is also under annual threat from devastating floods that break the banks of the Parramatta River and paralyse our public transport systems. Today, no Australian is immune from the impact of climate change. It doesn't discriminate based on whether you live in the cities or the regions.

We need real leadership on climate, and that is what our government is delivering. I want to thank the minister for disaster response for his leadership when Parramatta was hit by a once-in-30-years flood last year. Photos of flood-damaged homes and local businesses poured into my office. Residents like Maryanne, a local from Rydalmere, rang the office pleading for government assistance. Thanks to the responsive leadership from the minister for disaster response, Parramatta was added to the list of disaster affected areas within weeks of my office making contact. Disaster-stricken locals like Maryanne could finally recover and rebuild.

The ongoing and worsening impacts of climate change don't stop there. It's likely that hundreds more Australians like Maryanne will feel the effects of our climate crisis, and the pressure of the climate crisis will only keep growing. That's why it's incumbent upon us, as a responsible government, to respond with real, effective policies that reflect the urgency of this crisis. We started this process by legislating an ambitious but achievable emissions reduction target: 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. We intend to deliver on these targets and deliver on our mandate to address the ongoing climate crisis. We'll do that through the safeguard mechanism, which we announced in December 2021 as part of our Powering Australia plan and which was given a ringing endorsement at the last election by the Australian people. This will enable tradable credits to be issued to facilities who achieve emissions below their baseline, providing incentives for all covered facilities to reduce their emissions and access the lowest-cost abatement.

These reforms will make our targets not only ambitious but achievable. They're expected to save 205 million tonnes of emissions in the period to 2030. That's the equivalent of taking two out of every three Australian cars off the road over that same period. As part of our Powering Australia plan, our government will build on the existing safeguard mechanism to reduce industrial sector emissions. By doing this, we can build on a well-established legislative framework that places emission limits or baselines on large industrial facilities. It's a far-reaching mechanism covering around 215 large industrial businesses, accounting for around 28 per cent of Australia's emissions. The sectors that are covered are among the fastest growing across the economy and are projected to overtake emissions from the electricity sector if we don't have an effective policy response. With these reforms, safeguard facilities will, on average, reduce their emissions at the same rate as the rest of the economy by 2030.

These reforms are about empowering businesses to be part of the solution. It's about recognising the role the private sector can play in driving positive change, and providing the tools and incentives necessary for them to do so. By supporting this bill, we send a clear message to our industries that we believe in their ability to innovate and adapt for the greater good. Importantly, we're going to get this done by working with business—not by alienating them, not by berating them. In fact, these reforms back in the climate commitments companies have already made. They help meet our legislative targets to reduce emissions.

Adding to that, our reforms to the safeguard mechanism have been consistently recommended and supported by business groups. The Business Council of Australia not only put out a paper saying they support sensible climate policy; they said, 'The government's proposed reforms are workable.' Another member of the business community—the alleged core consistency of the coalition—Andrew McKellar, from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the safeguard mechanism:

… is the best option that's on the table. And business believes that it's necessary, that we have to take that step, and we have to take it now.

If that's not a damning enough reflection on the performance of those opposite on climate, the ACCC outright urged those opposite to do the right thing for Australia's future and pass the bill.

I quote ACCI:

Past failure to deal with this reality has crimped certainty for industry and investors, and left our energy sector in disarray. Australian businesses and households are now paying the price.

Businesses and households are paying the price not for action on climate change but for the coalition's inaction on climate change—inaction that cost Australia a decade of progress to become what we could've been, a world leader in climate action and renewable technology; inaction that cost Australians security in their energy supply; inaction that cost businesses the opportunity to invest in new industries, new technologies and good jobs in renewables.

Australians have had enough of this. They've had enough of the half-baked scare campaign and enough of the $100 legs of lamb that the coalition has been talking about for decades. They know that is all false. They know they've had 22 half-hearted, failed attempts to do less than the bare minimum. And they know that their succession of undelivered plans has left Australia languishing.

Those opposite took the credit for announcing a plan on safeguard crediting but never delivered that plan, and now they're opposing our plan that builds on the same mechanism. What better evidence of the coalition turning action on climate change into a political football. They're always there to cut a ribbon, they're always there when the photo is being taken, but they're never there to act on climate. Frankly, these tired old coalition talking points are a sorry substitute for action and a sorry substitute for an apology to the Australian public for a decade of denial and delay.

What really stings are the lost gains we could have made by acting on climate change a decade ago. We could have had investment. We could have had an economy in transition towards good jobs and cheaper and cleaner electricity. Australians know climate policy can be good economic policy. Even the BCA supported then Prime Minister Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But, instead, for the last 10 years we got nothing.

In the first 10 months of this government we've delivered the first real Climate Change Bill in a decade. We've passed the electric car tax discount through the House to make EVs more affordable. We've delivered a $67 million package of reforms to modernise energy market regulation with states and territories. We've hosted the Sydney Energy Forum with energy ministers from key countries around the world. And we've signed the Australia-US Net-Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership, showing the world that Australia is open for business when it comes to climate action and renewables.

The era of climate inaction must come to an end. I worked in the Rudd government when we had a mandate to put through an emissions trading scheme, a mandate given to us by the Australian people. We had all the evidence from the Garnaut review about the best and cheapest way to deliver that solution. We had all the evidence from the Garnaut review about the cost of inaction—the price we would pay if we didn't put that scheme in place. We worked hard to explain that scheme to the Australian people and to build support, and we lost it because we didn't get the support of the Greens. The Greens then, in 2008 and 2009, made their perfect the enemy of Australia's good. We lost an opportunity then, 14 years ago, to put in place a scheme that would have served Australia well, that would have enabled businesses to have the certainty over the last 14 years to invest. It would have had the energy sector on a path towards transition and had businesses able to make plans and put in place abatement technologies and processes so that they could move forward into a cleaner energy future. We lost that opportunity then.

The Gillard government did put in place an emissions trading scheme, again based on the science, based on the economics and based on the recognition that a broad scheme would be the least-cost way to reduce emissions. That scheme was the law of the land, introduced by the Gillard government. It was an innovation in global climate policy, one of the first and broadest schemes in the world. That scheme was repealed by the Abbott government, taking away certainty for business and throwing away five years of work—work that was supported by the business community, by industry and by conservation groups, work that was supported broadly across Australia.

Everybody wanted to move forward, but we didn't. Instead, we had nine years of coalition government—nine years in which that policy wasn't replaced by something better. It wasn't replaced by anything. The statistics kept moving. The IPCC reports kept coming out. The world kept getting hotter. Natural disasters kept coming. Year after year, everything that had been predicted came true, but we still didn't have the courage to act.

Finally, we have a government that has the courage to act. Finally, we have a government who is going to take on this challenge. Finally, we have a government who is going to provide certainty to business. Finally, we have a government who is going to set Australia up for a transition towards a clean economy. All we get from the opposition is harping on about $275 every day in question time, ignorant to the reality of climate change, ignorant to the impact this will have on the world, ignorant to the impact this will have on our children and future generations. They are playing the same political games they've played for the last 10 years with one of the most serious issues that humanity has ever faced.

I'm so proud to be part of a government that is no longer playing political games with climate change. I'm so proud to be part of a government that has a real and workable solution, a government that has brought business and unions and community groups and conservation groups to the table around a real solution. That is the solution that we are legislating through this bill as an important step towards a clean energy future. When it's done, Australians will look back at this piece of legislation and this parliament as the time that we got serious, took a step into our economic future, created certainty and started to tackle one of the biggest challenges we've ever faced as a civilisation.

7:04 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) Share this | | Hansard source

Colleagues, friends, this is a debate about whether you choose a tax based solution or a technology based solution. Those opposite; their coalition partners, the Greens; and their enablers in the fourth estate would have it suggested that the Liberal Party had no plan when it came to carbon emission reduction. So I thought I might start by dispelling that myth. We of course had a plan. We had a commitment to net zero by 2050. But, when we got to the choice between technology and taxes, we took the technology approach.

I've become fond of the member for Maribyrnong now that I'm sitting a little closer to him during question time. As I see him sitting there in question time, I think to myself, 'At least the member for Maribyrnong was honest when he went to the Australian people in 2019.' Arguably he wasn't rewarded for that honesty, but he can hold his head high because he came into this place day after day and said exactly what he would do if he were given the great privilege by the Australian people of leading this country as Prime Minister.

I'm close enough, too, to the Prime Minister to observe him during question time, and I think to myself: 'He didn't take that approach before the last election. No. He took a much more small-target and tricky approach to this.' On the one hand, you had a coalition government that had a plan for net zero, to get there with technology, not taxes. In government, we committed $22 billion to bring down the cost of low-emission technologies—hydrogen, ultra-low-cost solar, green steel and aluminium—leveraging up to $132 billion in private sector investment and supporting some 160,000 jobs. On the other hand, we now have a government that has instead decided to implement a new carbon tax, at a time when businesses and Australian households can least afford it.

'Carbon tax'—that triggers some muscle memory of mine. That's right—former prime minister Gillard introduced her carbon tax. She priced it at $23 a tonne. The now Prime Minister is having a go at doing the same, but, instead of starting at a carbon price of $23, it's been ratcheted up. It's $75 a tonne, rising to $100 a tonne. That's what this is. Under our mechanism, businesses could voluntarily move to achieve these emission reductions by adopting technology which over time would become more reasonably priced. Instead, those opposite say: 'No. You must achieve these outcomes.' They're delivering their emission reductions not through technology but through taxes.

As I said, this is at a time when we're seeing business confidence in Australia plummeting. We're seeing households who have experienced—I respectfully suggest to you—the worst and most difficult 10 months in more than a quarter of a century. We had enjoyed, up until the change of government, unbridled economic growth, strong prospects, strong business confidence. With the change of government, we now have Australians paying more for their energy, paying more for their grocery bills and, of course, having to find a significant additional sum every month to pay their mortgages. The concern I have is: there's no relief in sight. They know that. They know there's no relief in sight. Whilst there might be a pause on the official cash rate from the Reserve Bank, it won't be for long. It will continue to increase, and things are looking difficult.

I mentioned the current Prime Minister. I've had an opportunity to observe him in question time, and I haven't heard him utter the figure of $270—not once. I'm listening. I'm waiting. Many of us are just saying, 'Look, apologise to the Australian people and we'll get on with it.' They haven't heard an apology—97 or more times before the election and some 28 times after the illegal and immoral war being waged on the people of Ukraine began, and yet not once since the election have we heard that figure mentioned. He was very happy to make that announcement so many times before the election but not once since the election. This is a government that ran a very small target. Those opposite are now looking to slink around behind weasel words as they avoid responsibility for what they said.

I've also been enjoying observing the behaviour of those opposite in question time when it relates to the AUKUS deal. You might ask why this is in any way relevant. I began my contribution by saying that this is a debate about whether we solve this problem using taxes, or a tax mechanism, or technology. One of the most significant technologies in this space in other jurisdictions is nuclear technology. Don't take my word for it. The Canadian Prime Minister—a man who is a long way left of me—is pursuing small modular reactors, so it's certainly not something that is the exclusive purview of centre-right governments around the world.

We're about to run into a bizarre dichotomy in this country. We are going to have conventionally armed but nuclear powered submarines in our ports. I congratulate those opposite for having taken up the good work of the member for Cook in establishing that deal.

A government member: You're an idiot.

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Reid on a point of order.

Photo of Sally SitouSally Sitou (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask the member to return to the legislation at hand.

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) Share this | | Hansard source

That's what I said—it's a debate between technology and taxes, and nuclear energy is a big part of this. My point is that we'll have submarines sitting in the port with a nuclear reactor sitting inside that capability, lawfully, but if you wanted to plug that generator into the grid it would be illegal. That is a bizarre situation. That's when you let ideology in the energy space rule over sense. It's like talking—with respect—poetry to the taxman. The reality is: if the technology is safe in a submarine capability, then of course it's safe in this country. 'Why is it relevant?' the member opposite asks. It's relevant because it's a form of energy generation that delivers energy on a net zero basis.

I sometimes have people who might not share my view about how we get to net zero speak to me about this topic, at field days, shows and other places. I always say to them, 'I'm pleased we can agree on one thing,' and they say, 'What's that?' 'Well, we can agree that nuclear energy needs to be part of the mix.' They then seem offended by that suggestion, but the reality is that they'd just been talking to me about how important carbon emissions reduction is. If that is, as former Prime Minister Rudd said, the greatest moral challenge of our time, then the greatest solution of our time is not found in the ledgers of accountants and taxes; it's found in scientific laboratories. It's found in nuclear energy technology, and its advancement is a big part of that puzzle.

I want to spend the last few moments I have on this bill, the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill, talking about another element of energy policy, which is part of a suite of measures that this government is seeking to deal with, and that's the one that has my constituency most concerned. We have talked a lot about carbon emission reduction, but the debate has moved to methane and the requirement to reduce methane emissions. Now, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy was asked about this yesterday in question time. I've got to tell you, farmers in my electorate weren't comforted by his answer. What my electorate's farmers—tough men and women who subject themselves to the elements and to international commodity prices and ever-increasing input prices—wanted to hear was a federal minister for climate change and energy categorically ruling out an approach that would see them needing to limit the number of animals they are entitled to stock on their farms. They didn't hear that. What we heard was a minister who is certainly offering an open door to those that would prosecute that case, just as he's enthusiastic about this approach to carbon emission reduction.

I'm sometimes accused of talking the 'giga babble' when it comes to the Murray-Darling Basin because everything's measured in gigalitres. It's very confusing. And this debate, with respect to Australians who just want to make ends meet, is a very difficult debate to follow. But no-one has ever been able to answer this question for me: how is it a good thing for the global environment to place a regulatory regime on Australian businesses? Let's say an aluminium smelter, for example, is forced to close, is forced to move its operations to another jurisdiction overseas where the regulatory requirements are far less strict. How is that a good outcome? The ore will still be mined in Australia, but it will now be transported overseas, creating a bigger footprint. We would send those smelter workers into unemployment. We would see greater levels of emissions as a result of the aluminium that continues to be produced, because I don't think anyone would reasonably suggest that there would be a commensurate decrease in demand for aluminium. And of course as that aluminium, in its refined stage, is returned to Australia there would be an even bigger footprint created.

No-one has been able to answer that question for me because the answer is clear: this approach might make domestic Centre Left members of parliament in Australia feel really good about what they've achieved, but it does nothing for the global environment. All you've done is create a greater footprint. You've displaced it overseas. You've taken people from employment to unemployment. But congratulations; those opposite get to feel particularly good about what they've supposedly done. That's what this is about.

The difference, of course, is that if you take a technology based approach you bed those outcomes in forever, irrespective of where you are. If you take a tax based approach then human beings being human beings will effectively do everything they are required to do to avoid that tax regime in this jurisdiction and go to another one.

Now, my friend who entered the chamber and left I think called me an idiot. Well, let's see. I'm pretty clear I'll be here after the next election; I'm not sure he will be. But he'll make a contribution because he's scared about the Greens on his left flank. It shouldn't be about that; it should be about the Australian people. (Time expired)

7:19 pm

Photo of Sally SitouSally Sitou (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It was great to be in the chamber to listen to that contribution from the member for Barker on the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022. I want to pick it apart. There were some buzzwords that he threw around. You'll hear words like 'business', 'technology' and 'nuclear'. Let's break down what this all means. When they talk about a technology driven approach, it's actually code for, 'Let's not do anything,' or, 'Let's use a lot of government money and send it out to business but have no expectations that they'll do anything to drive down emissions.' That's what they mean when they talk about technology.

Their one solution to climate change—and we have to take them at their word that they do think climate change is real, although I think there are some in their ranks still questioning whether or not climate change is real. But let's take them at their word that they do think climate change is happening and that we ought to act. If we were to do that, what is their plan to act? Those opposite have now been sitting on those benches over there for almost a year, and the one plan that they have come up with is nuclear. Let's break down this plan—this one golden plan that they have. Will it actually be possible? Will it be affordable? The answer to that is no.

If we were to look at best estimates, the cost of nuclear power in Australia would be approximately $16,000 per kilowatt hour. The cost of solar and wind would be about $2,000 per kilowatt hour. So you see that nuclear is much more expensive—eight times as expensive—than renewable energy. But let's think about whether or not it's feasible. We are still decades away from being able to have these golden geese that they all talk about, the small modular reactors. We are decades away. We need to get a workforce and an entire industry up. They love talking about AUKUS. We are already starting work on getting an industry up to be able to support AUKUS, but that is decades away. We know that we need to act on climate change now. It's urgent. We can't wait decades. We've already waited for those opposite. They've spent nine years and delivered nothing in terms of emissions reduction.

The other two buzzwords that they like to use are 'business' and 'regions'. Let's break that down. If we talk about the regions, which they all love to claim they are the party of, where in Australia is being hit hardest by climate change? It's the regions. It's our farmers who have to deal with drought and fire, and if not drought and fire then floods. They're the ones who are having to suffer the consequences of a warming globe and climate change. They're the ones who understand that we need to act now, yet they are being let down by those opposite, who refuse to stick up for farmers and refuse to give business certainty about the economic imperative of acting on climate change. They can't call themselves the party of the regions if they refuse to act on climate change, one of the biggest threats that our farmers are facing.

Let's go to their other buzzword, 'business'. All the major business groups are backing this safeguard mechanism—the AIG and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They are all getting behind this safeguard mechanism, because business have already moved. The train has already left the station for them. They are all acting to move to net zero, so they are far ahead of where those opposite are. They've already got plans in place. What they want from government is certainty and predictability, and that's what we're providing with the safeguard mechanism. So, again, those opposite cannot call themselves the party of business.

Let me run through the three buzzwords that they like to talk about. 'Business'—they've proven that they're no longer the party of business. 'Regions'—they've proven that they don't really care about our farmers and those living in regional towns. The only thing they can lay claim to is nuclear, so they are the party of nuclear. I will give you that. You can be the party of nuclear. I think they have all spent too much time watching The Simpsons and they all imagine themselves as Homer Simpson, being able to sit behind the nuclear reactor hitting that button. Well, go for it! You can be the party of nuclear.

When people asked me during the federal election why I decided to stand, I said there was one big driver, and that was my six-year-old son, and there were two main policies that I really cared about. Those were education and acting on climate change, because I wanted to be able to say to him and his generation that I had done everything I could to make sure that the world I was giving them was going to be better and that they were going to be able to live in a world where they didn't have to fear the extreme weather events that they have lived through. In the six short years that my son has been alive, he has lived through the 2019-20 drought and bushfire season, a once-in-a-generation event. Then he lived through a record rain and flooding event, a once-in-a-generation event. The fact that he has had to live both drought and bushfire and then a sudden shift to rain and flooding demonstrates how much we have impacted this planet and how much we need to do to make sure that we're acting on climate change.

I think those opposite need to take a good, long, hard look at the generations to come. Every time they go to a school, they should ask those schoolkids what they are concerned about and what things they would like their parliamentarians to do when they come into this place. I can guarantee those schoolkids will say to you that they want you to be protecting our environment and making sure that we act on climate change. Think about them when you are in this place and voting. Think about them when you are here talking about nuclear as your one solution to climate change.

What does this bill aim to do? It aims to get businesses to think about the innovation and technology that they need to work on to bring down emissions. If you're a business and you're doing well and you're making these breakthrough technological gains, then you get a credit, so you are actually incentivised to bring down emissions. We are now on the cusp of one of the greatest reforms in our economy since the Industrial Revolution. I shudder to think what those opposite would have done during the Industrial Revolution. They would have said: 'No, don't give us new technology. Don't give us electricity. We're okay with the candlelight and the horse and carriage. Don't give us anything new to make our lives better.' We are standing on that reform now, and I say to you: you should be getting behind this, because this is what business wants. They want the certainty of knowing that, if they make those changes, they won't be isolated and they won't be spending money on new technology on their own.

There is a whole-of-economy change that is happening, because that's what this is about. We are transforming the economy, and that's what needs to happen if we are to act on climate change. Instead, those opposite are failing to back this policy, which—let us remind them—was their policy, so they must have thought it was not very good to begin with. It is your policy. It is what business wants and— (Time expired)