Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Fuel Security Bill 2021, Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021; In Committee

6:47 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move Greens amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 1295 together:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1, column 2), omit the cell, substitute:

(2) Clause 71, page 62 (after line 8), after the paragraph beginning "This Part also", insert:

Finally, this Part deals with the review of this Act by the Productivity Commission every two years.

(3) Page 71 (after line 2), at the end of Division 3, add:

85 Report by Productivity Commission

      (a) the 2-year period following the commencement of this Act;

      (b) each successive 2-year period.

        (a) the measures implemented by this Act to improve security and confidence in Australia's fuel supplies including employment generated;

        (b) the impact of the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles on fuel security, economic activity and employment generated by the following:

        (i) electric vehicle and electric vehicle component manufacturing;

        (ii) battery manufacturing and commodity value-adding;

        (iii) investment in fast charging network infrastructure;

        (iv) the purchase and use of electric vehicles in Australia;

        (v) any related matters;

        (c) other forms of zero emissions transport including zero emissions fuels such as clean hydrogen and the impact of zero emissions transport on fuel security, economic activity and employment generated.

        These amendments basically have two parts. One is essentially that this legislation shouldn't proceed until we've also got an electric vehicles strategy and we've also got something else going on other than ongoing dependence on fossil fuels. The second part of these amendments is that there should be a review of this act by the Productivity Commission to see whether the way the money being spent is the best way to spend the money. Specifically, it would amend the bill to ensure that it doesn't commence until the passage of the Electric Vehicles Accountability Bill 2021. That's the private senator's bill that I am putting forward.

        We think it's exceedingly reasonable that you should not be handing out $2 billion to fossil fuel refineries until, as part of a package, you also have an electric vehicles strategy. We think it so reasonable that we would happily submit it to the pub test right around the country. We would love nothing more than for the punters in every pub, cafe, restaurant and other dining establishment in the country, no matter whether they are eating goat's cheese or having a beer, to be asking: if the Liberal Party wants to be giving $2 billion to fuel refineries for fuel security, shouldn't they also be having a strategy for electric vehicles? If you're really serious about fuel security, surely a part of the equation is reducing your reliance on oil? You can do that. Other countries around the world are doing that incredibly successfully by increasing their number of electric vehicles. Basically, the reality is that, if you submitted that to the pub test, it would pass, because people get it. The government wants to accuse us of pulling stunts, but this is very basic and very reasonable. If you want to hand over billions of dollars to fossil fuel companies, have an electric vehicle strategy.

        This is a very simple and very fair amendment. We think that the Senate should support it. It's a way of getting this government to be accountable. We have had a proposal for an electric vehicle strategy for a number of years now, and it has just been put off into the never-never. That electric vehicle strategy transformed itself into a 'future fuels discussion paper', which does nothing at all to encourage electric vehicles. Meanwhile, we have states that have to go it alone to work out what they are going to be doing with electric vehicles. We saw some very good proposals from the New South Wales government in the last week. On the other hand, we have the Victorian government putting in place a discriminatory tax against electric vehicles.

        Having these two linked together is a very good and appropriate way of dealing with the issue of fuel security. Not only should you be considering, as this government is, 'How do you prop up aging oil refineries?', but at the same time, 'How do you deal with the climate crisis? How do you reduce our reliance on fossil fuels?' That is the only thing that will work in the long term. What the government is doing at the moment, saying, 'Here's $2 billion for your fossil fuel mates', is completely out of step with what is needed, and it is completely out of step with what the rest of the world is doing: reducing the amount of oil, gas and coal that is being burnt and reducing our reliance on that. So we think it is a very reasonable thing to do.

        As I said in my tabled speech on the Electric Vehicles Accountability Bill, this bill is a very reasonable and measured approach. It simply requires the government to provide a regular statement outlining their approach to electric vehicles. It would also require a report by the Productivity Commission on how Australia's approach compares with that of the rest of the world. We know Australia has been left behind due to the Liberal Party's inaction. But, rather than obfuscation, ducking and weaving and avoiding accountability, this bill would simply require them to be up-front with Australians about what they're doing, or failing to do, and how far we are lagging behind the rest of the world. I commend my amendment to the Senate, and I really hope that it has the support of the government and the Labor Party.


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