Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Questions without Notice
Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct
My question is for the Prime Minister. The doctors are in the House: 85 of them are in this chamber right now. Today 2,500 health professionals warned of the dire health consequences should the Middle Arm project—the gas project—and fracking of the Beetaloo Basin go ahead. Will your government follow doctors' advice, and will it withhold the $1.5 billion in fossil fuel subsidies that you have allocated to the Middle Arm project?
I thank the member for her question, but I say, with respect, it's just not right, if the member is aware of what Middle Arm is actually about. One of the projects there potentially is, yes, associated with fossil fuels, but five of the six proponents are hydrogen, critical minerals, green ammonia and solar companies, including, of course, the Sun Cable project, which is one of the things that will need Middle Arm in order to proceed. This will be the largest solar project in the world. In terms of the Northern Territory government, I'd encourage the member to have a look at what the Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, had to say at the National Press Club last week, where she comprehensively put forward her case.
Our investment is equity in public, common-use marine infrastructure at Middle Arm—that's what it is—to develop clean energy industries to get to net zero. That's what our investment is about. Our investment in infrastructure projects, of course, should concentrate on nation-building projects: ones that facilitate private sector activities and ones that have a multiplier effect. Frankly, I say—as someone who, along with the member for Kooyong, cares about climate change and the need for us to get to net zero—it is important that we stick to facts in this debate, because otherwise what people will do is walk away from the support which is there.
The Australian government's proposed investment—to be very clear—is not for any company. It's not for any product. It's for public infrastructure. That's what our investment is proposed to be. That is why the government made that commitment going forward. It is just not true that it is for any company or any private sector activity. So the idea that you just assert that that's the case undermines, frankly, the very good public case across the board for action to get to net zero.