Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Regulations and Determinations

Industry Research and Development (Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program) Instrument 2021; Disallowance

4:16 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak to this disallowance motion and add my voice to those comments already made so eloquently by Senator Waters in relation to this issue. But I do want to point out the sheer hypocrisy of the Labor Party in relation to this and the hypocrisy of the government who, on one hand, say that they care about climate change and, on the other, spend public money making climate change worse.

Let's just be honest here: the Morrison government, the Liberal Party and the neoliberals of this government pretend that they are the best economic managers around, yet what we have is public money being handed over to a bunch of fossil-fuel polluting gas companies for an industry that we're apparently going to have to spend more money to try to clean up after in years to come. That is not good economic management. It's certainly not good environmental management, and it is not good for the planet. No wonder this government is being embarrassed on the world stage by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, by many of our closest trading partners, and even by the US in relation to their commitments to climate change. Even China, for heaven's sake, are saying that they have some targets to reduce carbon pollution and have a net zero ambition. This government has none of that. Instead, they're handing over public money to make climate change worse.

Now, if this industry is worthwhile and stands on its own, where's the free market? Why isn't it able to do it on its own? This Prime Minister has said that, out of the COVID crisis, we will have a gas led recovery. I can tell you that that's not going to go down very well when the Prime Minister and his bureaucrats get to Glasgow at the end of this year, because the rest of the world knows that we have to get out of fossil fuels and we have to get out of making climate change worse. That means reducing pollution, not making it harder to reduce it. That's before we even get into how dodgy the deals to hand over this initial $21 million have been. Can you imagine where that money would be better spent? It might be spent on housing First Nations peoples in the Northern Territory, on health services, on education or perhaps on clean renewable energy sources that are going to be there for the future. This government is pouring more and more public money into propping up an industry that is making our job to tackle climate change even harder. There is no way we're going to be able to reach the targets that we need to if this gas field is opened up, propped up and subsidised by the public purse.

It is just extraordinary that the Labor Party is now lining up with the Morrison government to say: 'You know what? Go for it. Drill for as much gas as you want. We don't care about the impact that that's going to make on the environment and on our pollution and on climate change'! Well, it's pretty damn clear today, hearing the comments from the government and from the Labor Party, that both of these major parties are in the pockets of the gas and the fossil fuel industry, because otherwise why would it be that the Labor Party are refusing to stop this dodgy rort from going ahead? They admit that we've got all the evidence that this money shouldn't have been handed over. They admit that this is just a rort for the Liberal Party mates. They admit that there's been no due diligence done, so much so they've written to the Auditor-General to ask him to have a look at it. But when it comes to actually being able to do something about it, they're refusing, and they're refusing because they don't want to upset their other mates, their Labor mates in the gas industry and in the fossil fuel industry. The Labor Party also got some election donations from Empire Energy. Did you know that? So is it any surprise that they've come in here all guns blazing but actually can't deliver when it's needed. All sizzle, no sausage, is what we've got from the Labor Party on this, and Senator Watt in particular.

This government is making climate change worse, and they're spending your money, public money, taxpayers' money, propping up an industry that is going to condemn the future of this planet and our environment to a dust bowl, making climate change worse. That's what's going on here. It's like asking McDonald's to run the school canteen, paying them to do the school lunches while you're trying to fight child obesity. There is no logic here. If we want to stop climate change, we have to stop polluting. If you want to stop polluting, you have to stop subsidising those who are polluting, those who are making money out of making climate change worse. This parliament should be doing that, and it's sad today that we see the Labor Party rolling over into bed with the Morrison government and satisfying, both of them, their big fossil fuel mates and fossil fuel donors.


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