Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Regulations and Determinations

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

7:13 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | Hansard source

If the last couple of weeks have shown us anything, it is that if we want action on climate change—meaningful action on climate change—we need to change the government, because the Morrison government's performance on the international stage was embarrassing. The Morrison government went to Glasgow committed, like all the other signatories, to updating their targets, to contributing to global momentum, so that we could actually do something about climate change. That was their obligation. That's what they should have done. But we didn't see any of that, nothing of that at all. Instead what we saw was an embarrassing effort to present their existing, weak, ineffective suite of policies as, in some way, a solution to the urgent global challenge of climate chang They were called out, weren't they? They were called out, because the international community saw right through that. International figure after international figure called on the Morrison government to do more, and the truth is Australians want them to do more as well.

The Australian people aren't silly. They know that the climate is changing. They know that there is an urgent task to start dealing with carbon emissions. They also know that the environmental emergency—the urgent environmental task—is also an economic opportunity because Australia is blessed with abundant natural resources, and we have the opportunity to use those resources to create jobs of the future, to make sure that we do have a complex, diverse Australian economy with jobs in the regions, powered by clean, renewable energy and creating opportunities for communities right across the country. There's no interest in that over there. The government are determined to continue with business as usual, to pretend that nothing needs to be done and to pretend that their do-nothing approach will be adequate, and people are angry about it.

Labor will continue to argue for urgent and meaningful action on climate change, in keeping with our commitment to reach net zero by 2050. Our record in government was to ratify Kyoto, to supercharge Australia's renewable energy sector and to put Australia on a path of sharply declining emissions. What intervened to prevent that? It was the election of the Abbott government and their determination to remove every meaningful institution that could have put Australia on a better path. Labor has a very different approach and a future Labor government will take the urgent task seriously. We've already announced that an Albanese Labor government will invest $20 billion to upgrade Australia's electricity grid to unlock new sources of renewable energy and the jobs and power savings that come with them. We'll make electric cars cheaper by slashing inefficient taxes. We'll support 10,000 apprenticeships in the new energy trades of the future, and we'll cut bills and support the grid with community batteries for up to 100,000 solar households.

We know that this will receive the support of the Australian community because Australians are already embracing these technologies. Australians are already putting solar on their roofs and they're already looking for ways to improve their own carbon footprints. But, where there is a role for gas to play in firming and peaking electricity and as a feedstock for manufacturing, exploration and extraction then we understand that there is a role for gas in that transition. That gas exploration and extraction must, of course, be subject to scientific, independent and evidence based approvals. Evidence regarding the Beetaloo sub-basin is in the early stages. It's uncertain what proportion of the resource will be technologically and economically viable to extract, and federal Labor respects the views of the Northern Territory government, which supports exploration of the Beetaloo basin. We also supported a Senate inquiry into the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program in the interests of transparency, and the work of that committee is ongoing. Labor will consider the final report of the Senate inquiry, which is due in March 2022, and, as it stands, Labor does not support this disallowance motion proposed by the Greens. We will continue to advocate for ongoing consultation with traditional owners by both government and industry to ensure cultural heritage and the environment are protected, as a matter of urgency.


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