Monday, 2 May 2016
Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Bill 2016, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2016; In Committee
I am standing in for Senator Rachel Siewert, so I will be seeking leave to move the amendments standing in her name. The first amendment that we will be moving to this bill, as we foreshadowed in our second reading contributions, relates to the fact that, if you want sustainable development in the north, you do not build massive new coalmines and you do not build whopping great dams that will probably never fill up as the climate continues to change.
As we spoke about earlier in the day, we are supportive of sustainable infrastructure in the north that respects the natural values of the area, that works with local communities and respects their wishes for their land. In fact there are many clean energy opportunities, many communications opportunities and many conservation economy opportunity for the north that we would happily back and would love to see receive taxpayer support. However, when it comes to a dirty energy slush fund, as this one seems to be, then it is an entirely inappropriate usage of taxpayer funds to be giving out low-interest loans potentially to the likes of Adani to help build their mine, their railway or their port. So that is just not on, as I outlined in quite a lot of detail in my earlier contribution in the second reading stage of this bill.
Our amendment amends the definition of the economic infrastructure covered by the bill to exclude fossil fuel projects and also nuclear projects or any associated infrastructure that would facilitate those fossil fuel or nuclear projects.
As I say, if you are seeking taxpayer support, then in this age of climate emergency we do not need free taxpayers' dollars going to prop up unsustainable coalmines that cannot get private funding, because the coal price has tanked and people realise climate is a thing. You need instead to be seeking support for clean energy alternatives.
With no further ado, I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move amendment (1) on sheet 7907 for the Australian Greens:
(1) Clause 3, page 2 (lines 17 to 23), omit subclause (2), substitute:
(2) Northern Australia economic infrastructure is infrastructure that:
(a) provides a basis for economic growth in Northern Australia; and
(b) stimulates population growth in Northern Australia; and
(c) is not related to a fossil fuel or nuclear project.
Note 1: Infrastructure that relates to a fossil fuel or nuclear project includes a railway, mine, pipeline, port or electricity infrastructure.
Note 2: Infrastructure located outside Northern Australia can be Northern Australia economic infrastructure as long as it meets the requirements set out in paragraphs (2)(a) to (c).
(2) Clause 5, page 3 (line 19), before "In this Act", insert "(1)".
(3) Clause 5, page 4 (after line 13), after the definition of Northern Australia economic infrastructure, insert:
principles of ecologically sustainable development has the meaning given by subsection (2).
(4) Clause 5, page 4 (after line 17), at the end of the clause, add:
(2) The following principles are principles of ecologically sustainable development:
(a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations;
(b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;
(c) the principle of inter-generational equity—that the present generation should ensure that the health, biodiversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;
(d) the conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making;
(e) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
(5) Page 6 (after line 13), at the end of Part 2, add:
8A Cost -benefit analysis to be undertaken
The Facility must not make a decision to provide financial assistance for the construction of Northern Australia economic infrastructure unless:
(a) a cost-benefit analysis has been prepared in relation to the infrastructure; and
(b) the cost-benefit analysis has been published on the Facility's website for a period of at least 30 days before the decision is made; and
(c) the public has been consulted in relation to the infrastructure; and
(d) regard has been had to any submissions received as result of the consultation.
(6) Clause 10, page 7 (lines 17 to 30), omit the clause, substitute:
10 Matters covered by Investment Mandate
The Investment Mandate:
(a) must include a direction that the Facility must have regard to the principles of ecologically sustainable development when deciding whether to provide financial assistance; and
(b) may include directions about the following:
(i) objectives the Facility is to pursue in providing financial assistance;
(ii) strategies and policies to be followed for the effective performance of the Facility's functions;
(iii) loan characteristics for circumstances in which financial assistance is used to provide or support loans;
(iv) providing financial assistance for purposes other than to provide or support loans;
(v) eligibility criteria for financial assistance;
(vi) risk and return in relation to providing financial assistance;
(vii) any other matters the Minister thinks appropriate.