Senate debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2020


Western Australia: Climate Change

8:27 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The WA community wants climate action. They want to see their government take advantage of the opportunity created by the urgent need to rebuild in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to address what we know as a community is the urgent crisis that faces us in the form of climate change. We want to see the new jobs in the clean industries come to our communities and we want to see our precious places cleaned up and preserved in the process.

Many of us have waited four years to see whether Mark McGowan's Labor government would bring itself to produce a climate policy. Recently the government has produced a document titled Western Australian climate policy. It was with great disappointment and profound frustration that we cracked the lid on this so-called policy and found that it contained no emissions reduction target and no renewable energy target, leaving many to ask the question, 'Well, what the hell is a climate policy without such measures inside it?'

In addition to this question, the resounding message that is born up from the WA community is: Why? In a state so gifted with natural, renewable resources, that is so well-positioned to take advantage of the job opportunities of the renewable energy boom, why are we the only state in the nation to lag behind without an emissions reduction target and without a renewable energy target? Why, when there is so much support for action, does the government find itself unable to act on climate change? An answer can be found within the recently released, excellent report produced by the organisation 350 Boorloo, which details in the most breathtaking way the relationship that exists between the gas industry in the state of Western Australia and Mark McGowan's Labor government. Entitled Captured state, it takes us on a dark journey through an insidious relationship of corporate influence, of donations and of a quite revolting revolving door between the gas industry—Woodside and Chevron—and the regulatory bodies that are designed and created to keep a check on these very industries, leading right back to the Premier's office.

One of the wonderful things that the report does for so many people in the community is finally take two pieces of information that have been on the public record for a long time—the diaries of our Premier and our energy minister and the donations disclosures made to the Electoral Commission—and cross-reference them so that we are at last able to see the link between meetings that are had and donations that are made. I will outline just two of the most worrying examples within the report. On 25 July 2018, energy minister Bill Johnston took a meeting with Woodside to discuss the Burrup Hub development. Just a few days later, Woodside made a donation to the WA Labor Party of no less than $6,600. Fast-forward to 19 March, when the environment minister, Stephen Dawson, took a meeting with Chevron for an unknown reason, followed quickly by a meeting with Mark McGowan. That elicited a donation of $1,700. This level of corporate influence is repugnant to the people of Western Australia, and it shows us clearly why there is such a brokenness at the heart of the ridiculous policy that Labor has put forward.


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