Thursday, 20 August 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Employment, Senator Abetz. Can the minister inform the Senate how the government's changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act will stop radical green activists gaming the system and improve job prospects for young Australians?
The best thing any government can do is to help young people obtain jobs by creating a sound economy. The worst thing a government can do is to stand idly by when there are forces at work that deliberately sabotage job creation. The EPBC Act did not envisage radical environmentalists cynically gaming the system to engage in vigilanty legal actions and to stop important job-creating projects. I have in front of me the document Stopping the Australian coal export boom—Funding proposal for the Australian anti-coal movement. It is very informative, having been sponsored by GetUp! and the Australia Institute, among others. Under the executive summary it says:
Our strategy is to ‘disrupt and delay’ key projects—
It is not to protect the environment; it is just sheer sabotage. Moving through the document, it says, 'What is the strategy? To disrupt and delay key infrastructure and increase costs.' Then the number one proposal is litigation and what would they do? By disrupting and delaying key projects:
We will lodge legal challenges to the approval of all of the major new … ports—
and mega-mines, all of them. They will not consider them case by case; they will just oppose all of them. The most concerning thing about this cynical and manipulative document is that program management, the funding of it is to come from the United States of America and Australia. So we are going to get US funding to destroy jobs for young Australians. We will not stand idly by to see our young Australians put out of jobs with US money. (Time expired)
Coming from the state of Queensland, Senator McGrath would be aware of the youth unemployment rate in Cairns is 22 per cent, Townsville 19 per cent, Rockhampton 14 per cent, outback Queensland 15 per cent. We need jobs in these regional areas and that is why we as a government will not stand idly by when legislation is cynically used to destroy job opportunities for young Australians. Business conditions are tough enough in rural and regional Australia without these cynical campaigns being funded from overseas, coming into Australia to deny our fellow Australians and young Australians the job opportunities that they need.
We want to see these infrastructures come on line. We want to see the creation of jobs. In most recent times we have seen a project worth $16,000 million, 10,000 separate jobs being denied our Australian people. (Time expired)
As the Attorney-General highlighted yesterday, one of the biggest threats to employment in regional Australia is capricious, half-baked and radical environmental activism. Radical environmentalists are using the act to pursue aggressive litigation designed to disrupt and sabotage important job-creating projects, all outline in this blueprint. No-one is denying that this is taking place, least of all the environmentalists when they say:
We will lodge legal challenges to the approval of all of the major new coal ports, as well as … mega-mines … for strategic campaign purposes.
Not to protect the environment; just for their strategic campaign purposes:
By disrupting and delaying … we are likely to make … them unviable.
We as a country cannot stand idly by and allow that to continue and we as a government will not.