Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Treasury Laws Amendment (Prohibiting Energy Market Misconduct) Bill 2019; In Committee
by leave—I move Greens amendments (1) to (8) on sheet 8799 together:
(1) Schedule 1, heading, page 3 (line 2), at the end of the heading, add "and prohibition on Commonwealth support for coal-fired electricity generators".
[prohibition on Commonwealth support for coal -fired generators]
(2) Schedule 1, item 1, page 4 (after line 2), at the end of section 153A, add:
This Part also prohibits certain Commonwealth support for coal-fired electricity generators.
[prohibition on Commonwealth support for coal -fired generators]
(3) Schedule 1, item 1, page 27 (after line 22), after Division 6, insert:
Division 6A—Prohibition on Commonwealth support for coal -fired generators
153ZBA This Division binds the Crown
This Division binds the Crown in right of the Commonwealth. However, it does not bind the Crown in right of a State, of the Australian Capital Territory or of the Northern Territory.
153ZBB Prohibition on Commonwealth support for coal -fired generators
(1) The Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth must not, on or after the commencement of this Division:
(a) provide financial support or other support for the purpose (or for purposes that include the purpose) of the refurbishment or building of a coal-fired generator; or
(b) purchase, or assist the purchase or transfer of ownership of, a coal-fired generator; or
(c) provide financial support to an owner or operator of a coal-fired generator to use, fund, extend the life of or operate the generator.
(2) For the purposes of this section, financial support includes any support that involves a current or potential future financial exposure to the Commonwealth, including the Commonwealth underwriting investments or entering into other financial arrangements.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to support or assistance provided solely for purposes connected with the Commonwealth or authority:
(a) processing an application for an approval, licence or permit (however described) that is required under a law of the Commonwealth; or
(b) undertaking any other regulatory process under or in accordance with a law of the Commonwealth.
Exception—transition assistance or research
(4) Paragraph (1) (a) does not apply to:
(a) financial or other support provided in connection with a program that provides transition assistance to workers affected, or who may be affected, by the retirement of a coal-fired generator; or
(b) funding research by an approved research institute (within the meaning of section 73A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936), so far as the research relates to coal-fired generators generally and does not relate only to a particular coal-fired generator or particular coal-fired generators.
(5) Subsection (1) does not apply to:
(a) the provision of support in relation to a coal-fired generator; or
(b) the purchase, or the assisting of the purchase or transfer of ownership, of a coal-fired generator;
if the purpose, or one of the purposes, of the support, purchase or assistance is the managed closure of the coal-fired generator.
Subsection (1) has effect despite other laws
(6) Subsection (1) has effect despite anything in this Act or any other law of the Commonwealth (whether passed or made before or after the commencement of this section) unless the law expressly provides otherwise.
(7) Subsection (6) does not affect the operation of section 153ZC.
Executive power of the Commonwealth not otherwise limited
(8) This section only limits the executive power of the Commonwealth to the extent set out in this section and does not, by implication, limit that power to any other extent.
(4) Schedule 1, item 1, page 27 (line 27), omit "5 and 6", substitute "5, 6 and 6A".
(5) Schedule 1, item 1, page 27 (line 29), omit "5 or 6", substitute "5, 6 or 6A".
(6) Schedule 1, page 29 (before line 3), before item 2, insert:
1A Subsection 2A(1)
Omit "44E and 95D", substitute "44E, 95D and 153ZBA".
(7) Schedule 1, item 3, page 29 (line 8), after "XICA", insert "(other than Division 6A)".
(8) Schedule 1, item 14, page 31 (after line 11), at the end of the item, add:
(3) Subitem (1) does not apply to Division 6A of Part XICA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, as inserted by this Schedule.
These amendments go to the heart of the problem and the grave concern that the Australian Greens have in relation to this particular piece of legislation. This bill, make no mistake about it, will contribute to making climate change worse. It will contribute to ensuring that pollution continues to rise and climate change gets worse and that disasters such as those we're experiencing across the country today will become more horrid, more frequent and more deadly. That is the horrid and awful truth that we are confronted with today. As policymakers, as decision-makers and as leaders in our communities we have been called into action by some of the most senior members of the emergency services bodies across the country and by scientists, who have said collectively that it is time to reduce Australia's carbon pollution, to get serious about climate change and to deliver climate change action. Instead, we are seeing from the government legislation dressed up as something to do with reducing electricity prices when, in fact, all it is going to do is keep the polluting and dangerous coal being burnt for longer in this country, which will contribute to more and more global warming, and more and more disasters as a result.
We have been warned by scientists, by emergency services personnel and by our own children and next generation that we have to get serious about climate action and reducing pollution. This bill is going to make it harder for us even to get to the point of reducing pollution, because it will keep coal being burnt for longer and keep coal-fired power stations open and operating for longer—and the government wants to spend Australian taxpayers' money doing that. This amendment would at the very least try to curtail public money being spent keeping coal being burnt for longer and making climate change worse. That is a fundamental point. It beggars belief that we have a government that wants to spend taxpayers' money to make climate change worse by burning more coal and putting more pollution into the atmosphere, rather than deal with the emergency that confronts us today.
While I'm speaking about this, I will point out just how disgusted, how absolutely revolted, many people were to see the comments this morning by the former Deputy Prime Minister and former leader of the National Party, Barnaby Joyce, who—in the midst of the disaster that we are seeing unfolding, particularly in northern New South Wales over the past two or three days, in which people have died, homes have been destroyed and communities made distraught—had the gall to link the deaths of two people to whether or not they were Greens voters. That is absolutely unbecoming of somebody who is elected to this place, let alone someone who thinks he ought to be Deputy Prime Minister again. Marry his comments with the comments made yesterday by the current Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, who dismissed the very serious concerns that this issue is causing right across the country, particularly in rural and regional areas, where they are saying, 'Can we get some action on climate change, because our homes, our communities, our regions are now on fire.' What did Mr McCormack say? He said that climate change is just an issue of raving lefties from the inner city. It's not. This is an issue that is affecting the entire nation. It doesn't matter in what part of this country you live or were born. It doesn't matter how old you are, how rich you are, how poor you are or what you do for a job. Climate change is already having a huge impact. It is not a matter that affects just the inner city lefties. It is an issue that right now—today—is confronting the people of the bush, the very people that Mr McCormack is meant to represent. Between the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr Barnaby Joyce, these two blokes are sounding more and more like the obnoxious uncles at a Christmas party, doing whatever they can to piss everybody off and upset them, to grab a headline and insult people. It's not the behaviour that we should be expecting from someone who is the Deputy Prime Minister or used to be the Deputy Prime Minister.