Senate debates

Monday, 18 October 2021


Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment (Equity Investments and Other Measures) Bill 2021; In Committee

6:40 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | Hansard source

Can I just clarify that subsection 4 is being moved separately. Is that correct?

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: That would be the case. It's up to the Greens to formally move it. We're dealing with amendment (1) on sheet 1406.

Thank you. I'll, therefore, use this opportunity to outline Labor's response to those issues. It is our approach to be informed by scientific evidence rather than by ideology, including in regard to the financing of fossil fuels and associated infrastructure. We recognise that there will continue to be international demand for fossil fuels for some decades, even in the context of reducing global emissions. I come from Western Australia, where we see a large proportion of national income and exports being derived currently from these exports. We need to work with industry to bring down and manage those emissions so that we can meet a net zero target.

In that context, we don't believe that Australia, as a resources trading nation, should be pulling up the ladder from beneath it while emerging economies are trying their hand at producing energy and trading resource commodities. We can't leave them behind when we've had so much economic benefit from this already. Labor stands by the Paris Agreement principles, which encourage developed economies to assist emerging economies on their slower journey to decarbonisation rather than starving them of fair financing. If nations like this do not get this pivotal investment from ethical countries like Australia, then they will risk falling into debt diplomacy traps from unethical actors in the region.

We see here unintended consequences of the proposed amendment if we were to exclude Export Finance Australia from supporting developing economies to transition to cleaner fuels. For example, under its overseas infrastructure powers Export Finance Australia can provide finance to assist developing economies to build energy projects that support transition to cleaner fuels. Export Finance Australia can then monitor the implementation of these projects through the life of the loan, including through the use of independent environmental and social consultants where appropriate. We are concerned that, had the Greens party's proposed prohibition been in place, Export Finance Australia could not have funded an Australian electrical firm's work on an LNG power station in PNG—the POM power station near Port Moresby that has replaced diesel electricity with LNG and significantly reduced PNG's carbon footprint. So we're concerned that other critical infrastructure could fall foul of the prohibition that's been put forward in this amendment—for example, airports or marine ports that require construction of fuel infrastructure for ships or aircraft or critical minerals and rare earth projects. On that note, Labor does not support this amendment.


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