Senate debates

Monday, 24 February 2020


Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018; Second Reading

11:05 am

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak to the Greens' Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018. This is a bill that would keep coal in the ground. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC—the international coalition of the vast majority of the world's scientists—have clearly said that we cannot afford new thermal coal in the system. We are already on a trajectory to three or possibly four degrees of global warming, and we've seen the havoc that our communities and our planet have experienced at just one degree of warming. We've seen the summer with millions of hectares of our nation burnt, with lives lost, with homes lost, with productivity lost and with people's lives ripped apart. That was just at one degree of warming, and this government's complete absence of climate policy has us on track for between three and four degrees of warming.

So this is why the IPCC—the world's climate scientists—are saying: 'No new coal.' But what do we have? We have approval for the Adani Carmichael coalmine issued many years ago—with bipartisan support, I might add—where the climate impacts of that mine were not even assessed by our so-called environmental laws. The bill that we've just been debating would fix that, and it would say that you can't approve a coalmine without looking at the impacts that it will have on our climate. But we heard some pretty bizarre contributions that somehow seemed to fail to grasp that fairly logical point.

We have bipartisan support for the Adani Carmichael coalmine to proceed, and the defence that the opposition gives is that it got its approvals. Well, it got its approvals under laws that don't require its climate impacts to be assessed. It got its approvals by extinguishing native title, which the state Labor government have done to the Wangan and Yagalingu people.

There is no saving grace for this carbon bomb. This bill would cancel Adani's approval, and it would say to folk like Clive Palmer: 'You can't buy your way into a new coalmine in the Galilee Basin. The Galilee Basin coal has to stay in the ground, where it belongs and where the science says that it needs to stay if we are to have any hope of constraining global warming so that there will be a liveable future for us all.'

This is a very simple bill. In fact, I introduced it back in 2018. So I was a bit perplexed that we heard from the opposition that they haven't had enough time to consider the bill, because it has been on the books since 2018. Methinks there's a bit of nervousness in taking a position on coal. We see this continued lack of spine. Sadly, we saw a somewhat positive announcement about a 2050 zero emissions target but no plan to get there in the interim. We saw the opposition leader espouse the need to still be exporting thermal coal by 2050. Are you serious? The science is saying that we can't handle any more thermal coal in the system now, let alone in 30 years time. This bill would keep that coal in the ground where it belongs. It would respect the rights of traditional owners in that basin area, including the Wangan and Yagalingu people. It would protect that groundwater from being polluted and overused whilst other farming operations are starved of water in that region which has been in drought for so very long.

The big parties don't want to vote on this bill. It's all very inconvenient for them to take a position on coal. One wonders whether the massive donations from big coal—and big oil and big gas for that matter—have something to do with their reticence to embrace the global transition to clean energy that is already underway. It's almost $10 million that big coal, oil and gas have donated to both sides of politics since 2012. I think it's $5.8 million, if my memory serves me correctly, to the Liberal and National parties, and $3½ million to the Labor Party. We don't think that the money should be allowed to be donated to political parties. We don't think that big coal should be able to buy off political parties' silence and their continued support for a fossil fuel that the rest of the world is already transitioning off.

Global thermal coal demand is down—it continues to be down—and renewable uptake is skyrocketing. Australia is best placed to service that global demand. We could be a renewable energy superpower, and we're now not the only ones saying that. But if we don't tackle our export of coal, we will never be able to act on the climate emergency we are in. We need to recognise that the global transition away from thermal coal is already happening, and we need to stand with those coal communities and transition them into what comes next. It's not rocket science, folks. We can have clean energy jobs that protect those communities. We can have mining jobs that mine for the minerals that are needed for renewable energy components. We can have mine rehabilitation that, sadly, is badly needed for the 50,000 abandoned mines that pockmark this nation.

There are so many jobs that those communities could be transitioned into, many of which won't require any retraining at all. Those skills will be directly transferrable. Those communities know that thermal coal's days are numbered, but they're not hearing any plans from either the government or the opposition on how to cope with this transition that's already happening. They're desperate for that conversation about what comes next for them, where their future prosperity is going to come from, whether their town will stay alive. We want those towns to stay alive. We want that conversation to happen with those communities, and those communities deserve those jobs. But they deserve real jobs, not lies from multinational companies that, on one hand, say there are going to be a stack of jobs but then, in court, admit that it's going to be a tenth of that and then, out of the other side of their mouth, say, 'Oh, but we want to automate from pit to port.'

These communities know when they're being lied to, and they can see the global transition that's already underway. It's just staggering, when conservative governments around the world—even Boris Johnson in the UK, for heaven's sake—are accepting the climate emergency and taking some small steps to tackle it, that there is still bipartisan support for new coal mines in this country. Well, I'm really proud that the Greens continue to be the voice to advocate against new thermal coal mines, to advocate for that transition to 100 per cent clean energy as quickly as we possibly can. We know we've got the technology to do it. We know it creates new jobs, that it doesn't make workers sick, that it doesn't kill workers on mine sites or give them black lung disease. We know we've got that technological capacity, but what's perfectly clear is that we lack the political will. And, again, people are asking questions about whether the big donations are buying the complicity of both of the major political parties. People can draw their own conclusions about that, but it seems pretty clear-cut to us.

Now, 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is bleached—50 per cent of that coral cover has died permanently—after two successive bleaching events, in 2016 and 2017. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA—that reputable and recognised international body—says there might be yet another mass bleaching that will cripple the reef this summer. That's 64,000 jobs that rely on the reef to remain healthy, to remain alive, to not be half-dead. Yet we see a defence from the government that somehow the 1,464 possible jobs with Adani outweigh the 64,000 actual—in real life, already existing—jobs that rely on the reef remaining healthy. Even in their own morally bankrupt jobs-and-economy-only frame of reference, the figures don't add up. And when you factor in the cost of the climate-fuelled natural disasters that we've just seen wreak havoc on this nation, it doesn't add up on that metric either.

Then, look at the cost to nature—a billion animals burnt, extinction at all-time highs and our very planet on the brink of collapse. It doesn't seem to matter much to this government. They've never really paid much attention to the climate science, and they're probably not going to start now. But we beg them to do just a little bit of reading. Rather than sacking those CSIRO scientists, why don't they listen to them and get some advice about the economic cost, if nothing else? They don't care so much about the cost to nature, but they could at least look at the economics of it.

We could be a renewable energy exporting superpower. We could have that prosperity. We could create those jobs. We could tackle the climate crisis all at once. That's part of what we call a 'green new deal'. This is exactly what many other countries are now talking about. It is gathering global momentum. We can have that prosperity in a way that looks after nature and supports workers. But what we need to do is keep that Galilee coal in the ground. It's not just Adani. Clive Palmer has his claws in there and I think Gina Rinehart has a few proposals, and there are a few other big multinational coal companies that want to open it up—there are about nine coalmine proposals. If we were to allow the basin to be opened up, it would be the seventh largest emitter in the world, if it were considered to be a country. That's how big this coal basin is.

There is a reason that a new coal basin has not been opened up for 50 years, and there is now a scientific imperative why we don't open one. But both this government and the opposition have waved through approvals for the Carmichael coalmine. They don't care about water impacts and certainly don't care about extinguishing native title. They don't care about the climate impacts and they don't care about the lies about job creation rather than the reality of the reef jobs that will go and agricultural jobs that will be threatened with the continuing change in the climate. They don't care about the potential for real renewable jobs for mining rehab, for mining minerals for renewable energy components. The solutions are there. But, sadly, the big parties in this nation are being blinded by the big dollars flowing from the big polluters. It's as simple as that, and it is heartbreaking, because money and power should not be wrecking the future for all of us. But that is precisely what's happening under this government's watch, with the complicity of the opposition.

So we commend the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill to the Senate. But we are not allowed to have a vote on it today, because, sadly, the opposition didn't have enough time to consider a bill that was drafted and introduced in 2018. We all know what that actually means. They just don't want to have to vote for coal and they don't want to have to vote against coal. They wish everybody would stop asking them about coal. Well, those coal communities actually deserve the truth. They deserve a decent answer and they deserve to be consulted on what happens next for them, for their families, for their region and for their community. The Greens are up for having that conversation. We had the Senate inquiry into regional jobs, which went to many of those coal communities last year. People know what's happening. They are not stupid. They actually can see that the world is turning away from our dirty coal. There is a reason that none of those private financiers are backing Galilee Basin coal. There is a reason that they can't get insurance. There is a reason that they have their hand out to get funding for the railway line. The private market does not want to touch new thermal coal.

Just last week, India announced that they want to stop coal imports in 2022, I think it was. They have said that before. They are holding fast to that position—2022 isn't here yet, former minister Canavan. The rest of the world is already making that transition. This government, sadly with the support of the opposition, is losing the chance for us to position ourselves as a world leader in renewable energy—to create those jobs, to help protect what's left of the reef from another bleaching episode, to protect the beautiful biodiversity on which life depends. And yes, we're not even allowed to vote on this bill today. But we Greens won't stop talking about global transitions off coal. We won't stop advocating for those coal communities to be consulted, to be protected, to be transitioned. We don't want that shock that will come overnight when those multinational coal companies just pull out of coal. We've already seen many of those large coal companies put an end date on their own coal extraction activities. The market gets it, folks. The community gets it. What will it take for the big political parties to get it? I'm incredulous that they are so in denial of the scientific and economic reality. There's a reason that the vote for the larger parties is the lowest it has ever been in history. They don't feel that you're listening to them. They want democracy back. They are sick of corporate donations getting outcomes for corporate profits. They want communities' interests to be put first and they want the planet protected.

The first step in doing that is to back this bill, to keep that Galilee coal in the ground, to respect the rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou and other traditional owners in that area, to stand with those coal communities and give them a future—a legitimate future, not lies about jobs that will never eventuate but real jobs—and to protect those real jobs that already exist around the reef and agriculture, which are massively climate exposed. We'll never know what the position of the big parties is on this bill, because they won't vote on it today and they probably won't let us bring it on again. But the community is watching. They want action on the climate emergency, they want justice for those coal communities and they want a future to share for us all.

11:19 am

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This bill demonstrates that the Greens are the John McEnroe of this parliament. They cannot cop an umpire's decision. They cannot cop the decision of the umpire when it comes to doing environmental assessments. They always like to call on the umpire's decision when it goes in their favour. When the umpire makes a decision to restrict a project or stop jobs being created under our environmental laws, the Greens will very quickly point to that and say, 'See, that demonstrates what we have been saying, and it should be adhered to.'

Whenever that same umpire—in this case, the departments of environment at state and federal levels—makes a decision that the Greens don't support or don't agree with, the Greens immediately come in and say, 'No, it's all wrong, and we've got to ban it anyway.' What is the point of having our environmental laws if you are only going to accept decisions when they go your way? We have very robust laws in this country that assess major projects in our nation, like those that are in question here, with this bill, like those in the Galilee Basin. They go through an incredibly rigorous environmental assessment process.

This morning I would like to briefly recap on the process that was gone through for Adani's Carmichael mine, which is one of the potential mines that are subject to this bill here today. We have very robust environmental laws. The saga of the Carmichael mine goes back to 2009, more than 10 years ago, when Adani first acquired a licence. It actually starts before then, I suppose. Linc Energy previously owned this area. They were looking for gas but eventually sold it to Adani when they found more coal than gas in the area.

For those that may not know, it does bear repeating exactly where this mine is. It's just under 400 kilometres from the coast of Queensland. It's west of Mackay, which is probably the major town, so a long way inland. The closest town is around 150 kilometres away at Clermont. It's a long way away. This is in a new coal basin but, really, it's in a new frontier for our nation. There hasn't been any major development in this part of Queensland to note. There are some cattle properties but not many people live in this area. The properties are largely run remotely or by staff that fly in, fly out. It is a long way away from other things that go on in this country. It is a very beautiful part of our country, though. It's an area that should be protected. I've been to the Carmichael site a number of times. I'm not sure if Senator Waters has been there, but I've been there a couple of times. There are some environmental assets in the region. I've been to the Doongmabulla Springs, which is one of the assets in question, and there are some threatened species as well.

All of these things have been assessed to death over the 10-year period that Adani has been looking at this mine. Take, for example, one of the threatened species: the black-throated finch. It is an important bird in our ecosystem that must be protected. Adani has spent around $1 million assessing the extent of the finch on its property, what can be done to protect it. Adani has spent more money on the finch than almost—well, we think—anyone else ever has before. In fact, one of the original conditions the Queensland government's coordinator-general imposed on the Adani project—back in, I think, 2015—was that the Queensland government should develop a black-throated finch management industry for the whole state. Guess what? Five years on, the Queensland government hasn't done that.

Adani were also obliged, under those conditions, to do a management strategy for their site—and they have done that. It's all mapped out in public and in great detail. They will reserve 30,000 hectares of land close to their Carmichael mine site, which will be turned into a finch habitat. We in fact know a lot more about the finch itself and how to protect it, thanks to the research Adani funded. We didn't know a lot about how the finch bred, how it ate and where it liked to nest, but, because of the work that was done through this project and funded by a commercial entity, we now know a lot more about that. And this area of 30,000 hectares that Adani will be protecting will be better for the finch thanks to that research and knowledge.

Something that the Greens will never admit—and will never actually admit here in this debate—is that it's often through these large projects and large investments that we're able to fund the environmental work that makes our country a better place. The governments aren't doing it. The Queensland state government aren't funding protection for the black-throated finch, despite their protestations over the last couple of years. The federal government doesn't have the money to do it all. We rely on people who have an incentive to protect their environment as well as to sustainably develop it to make these investments, and that is what has been done here.

Likewise, the Doongmabulla Springs, which was the scope of a lot of controversy, is an important permanent water source, especially for the cattle industry in the area. It is, I think, a state government listed environmental asset. It is not listed on any national registers, but it is an important permanent water source. It's about 12 kilometres from the mine site. Its exact location of renewal, where the water comes from, is the subject of some debate, as is often the case with things that happen underground—and a lot of science has to be done. Again, we know a lot more about the Doongmabulla Springs, the original springs, thanks to the work that Adani has done, which has been checked by the CSIRO and by Geoscience Australia. It all went through a rigorous process, showing what Adani has to do. Adani have to monitor water sites around the mine and make sure that the Doongmabulla Springs continues to be renewed and stays as a permanent water course for that area. All of that work has been assessed. All of that was assessed by experts like the state government Department of Environment and Science, the federal government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia. All of those assessments came back saying that this mine could occur and that we could meet our robust environmental laws.

But, again, I return to the point that, for the Greens, it's not about the local environment—it's not about the Doongmabulla Springs or the black-throated finch. If they cared for the finch they'd welcome the funding that Adani has put aside for this bird. For the Greens, it's all about ending the coal industry. That is what this bill is about. It's not about protecting the local environment. It's not even about protecting the global environment, which I will come to. It's about ending an industry that employs thousands of Australians, that provides billions of royalties to state governments to fund public services and that provides billions of taxes to our country. The Greens want to end the coal industry because it is their political platform. It's a political propaganda that they have engaged in that they see some kind of political benefit from. It's not about the global environment. If it were about the global environment, why do the Greens never mention the contribution of Australia's coalmining industry to the globe's production of coal?

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

It's huge.

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll take that interjection. Senator Waters is claiming in her interjections that the Australian coal industry has a huge impact on the world's coal production. These figures are not in debate; it is very easy to establish these—and Senator Waters is free to go and Google and find out this for herself. Australia's coal industry produces five per cent of the world's thermal coal—five per cent!

The Greens will come in here and say, 'We're a large exporter.' We are a large exporter. There's not a lot of coal traded exported across the sea, because it's heavy and it's costly to do so. Most coal is used close to where the electricity, heat or whatever is generated out of it is made. So, while we produce five per cent of the world's coal, China produces 50 per cent of the world's coal and uses almost all of their coal in their own country. India's coal production is more than double our coal production. The United States produces more coal than we do, and so does Russia. We are not a large coal producer when it comes to the world.

Why do we export our coal? Why are we a big exporter? As I said, coal is quite heavy, and it is costly to freight and transport. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that the world has established a seaborne coal trade. Before that, the world's industrial revolution all happened with domestic sources of coal. The reason we export our product to the world, the reason we bear all those costs, is that we have an extremely high-quality product. We have high-quality coal that is rich in energy and low in ash, nitrous oxide and sulphur oxides. That is good for the environment, and the reason people are willing to pay high prices for our coal is that environmental benefit as well as the energy content that is inherent in that coal. That's why we export that coal: because it has that high energy content, it means you produce fewer carbon emissions for the burning of the same amount of coal and generate the same amount of electricity.

So, if we as a parliament were to pass this bill, denying the world our efficient, productive, environmentally beneficial energy resources, it would be a bad thing for the world's development and for the world's environment, because if you take away the coal that comes from the Galilee Basin, which is roughly—it varies—5,500 kilocalories per kilogram, you would be left with Indian coal. Senator Waters seems to support the Indian government not buying Australian coal but using their own coal. India's coal is typically around 3,500 kilocalories per kilogram, so our coal is about 50 per cent more efficient than India's coal. So you'll be delivering 50 per cent higher carbon emissions to the world if you use Indian coal compared to Australian coal. Those are the facts that the Greens do not like to hear.

More important than that is that our coal and gas—our energy—help develop the world and help the world achieve better outcomes for poor people who do not have the luxury of the energy resources we have.

Senator Waters interjecting

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Canavan, resume your seat. Senators on my left, standing order 197 makes it very clear that interjections, except to call a point of order, are disorderly. Please desist.

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. If I had the opportunity, I wouldn't be calling it disorderly, because they're helping me progress this argument.. The Greens seem to be claiming that there's an issue with trying to make poor people rich and trying to help those who are less fortunate than us. The fact is that we have over our generation, over the last 30 years, had this remarkable development where poverty in our region, the Asia-Pacific region, has gone from where it was 30 years ago, when two-thirds of people in the region lived on less than US$1.90, to today, when that figure is 2.3 per cent. In 30 years—or 35 years now—it has gone to 2.3 per cent. Over that period of time, fossil fuel use in our region has gone up to a level more than eight times as high, and coal use is more than six times as high, helping fuel that economic growth, that opportunity and that advancement that has helped poor people who are less fortunate than us have a better life. That is what our coal industry provides.

It's also the case that, while the Carmichael mine is the one proceeding in the basin, there are other proposals. There are five other mines that are in various stages of environmental approval. There are other mines that Senator Waters mentioned that aren't in that process yet. All of those six mines together, including the Carmichael mine, could deliver 16,000 jobs directly in our coalmining industry. The coalmining industry employs 50,000 people at the moment, and it powers the vast majority of the economic wealth of Central Queensland. Now we have an opportunity to increase that by, potentially, a third and deliver even better results and more opportunities for our people here as well as providing those benefits overseas. That's why we should be supporting this.

Before I end, I note that, as Senator Waters said, I don't think this bill is going to come to a vote today. I'd be happy to bring it a vote, because I'd like to see where the Australian Labor Party fall on this issue. Since the election, they have purported to somehow support the coalmining industry and the export of our coal, but then last week they said they're going to have net zero emissions by 2050. Over the weekend, we've been hearing we can have net zero emissions and still have coalmining as well. What a joke! What a fairytale that Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party are trying to tell the Australian people!

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Canavan, remember to use the correct title for members of the other place.

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Albanese, the member for Grayndler, and the Australian Labor Party are trying to tell the Australian people a bedtime story about their policies here. You can't have all your cake and eat it too. If you want to have a coalmining industry, you can't say we're going to join radical countries around the world and try to cut carbon emissions to zero in 30 years. Then we have this magical concept that we're going to still keep coalmining but then we're just going to plant a whole lot of trees on farmland and take away farmers' right as compensation. That is the policy of the Labor Party. We have either one or the other. If we have net zero emissions, we've got to shut down the coalmining industry or take away property rights from farmers and put a lot of trees on their land, which would reduce our cotton, rice and sugar production, to pay some kind of penance or buy some kind of indulgence in order to have the continuing ability to produce cheap and affordable energy for the world that can help develop people who are less fortunate that us. That is, now, the once proud Australian Labor Party, which was established in Central Queensland, in Barcaldine, defending shearers' rights, and which purported to defend workers' rights throughout its very proud history of well over 100 years. It is now selling out workers on the global altar of purporting to say something—not do something—about the issue of climate change.

I don't think we should sell Australian workers out. I'm not going to sell our nation's workers out on this global altar. I will defend our right to have jobs here, to develop industry here and to keep our economic wealth here, and I will do so in a way which is realistic, which is up-front with the Australian people and which does not seek to hoodwink them into believing some kind of modern-day fairytale that we can all have our cake and eat it too. We have a choice. We can reduce our carbon emissions, but we can't do it in the radical way the Australian Labor Party is proposing.

11:35 am

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | | Hansard source

My, my! I feel like I should put my seatbelt on now, because here comes the mother of all scare campaigns from those opposite. They can't help themselves. But that's an argument for another day. I rise to speak against—I say that very clearly, Senator Canavan: against—the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill. I note this was introduced as a private senator's bill by Senator Waters on 5 December 2018, and it was sent into committee the next day. It lapsed due to the recent general election and has been placed back on the Notice Paper recently, hence the debate now. For the record, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee recommended that the Senate not pass this bill. On this side of the chamber we have our own reasons—I'm talking about the Australian Labor Party, not the little cabal in the corner there, but this side here, the main side—for opposing this attempted legislation.

Let's have a look at this. The prominent objective of this bill is contained in the title. It seeks to prohibit thermal coal mining in the Galilee Basin, which is a large Queensland coal resource which lies some 300-odd kilometres inland from Gladstone. The bill is quite specific about its prohibitions. One: it applies to constitutional corporations. Two: it applies to thermal coal which is used to generate electricity. Three: it even names the Adani Carmichael mine, which intends to mine around 10 million tonnes of coal per year for the Indian electricity sector. The bill also prohibits any proposal from a company owned by other Australians. The penalty for mining thermal coal from the Galilee Basin would be two years in prison or 1,000 penalty units. Any company that has already invested in the basin would be compensated on what Australians call 'just terms'. That's quite clear: no mining of the Galilee Basin; no coal; no Adani.

The rationale behind this bill, according to Senator Waters' speech in this place on 5 December of 2018, is to keep global emissions below a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels. The senator claims that, if the entire Galilee Basin were to be developed as a mine, it would add some 700 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, whereas Australia currently produces 400 million tonnes a year. According to Senator Waters and the Australian Greens, the only way to stop global warming rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius is to, in their words, 'keep coal in the ground'.

The Greens' rationale raises some factual issues. Firstly, the Greens' scenario entails the entire Galilee Basin being mined, which it is not. There is one project with an approval in that basin. We all know that's the Adani Carmichael mine. It intends, as I said earlier, to mine 10 million tonnes per year in phase 1 of its operation. Ten million tonnes is not a small coalmine, but it's not what you would call huge. Existing Australian coalmines such as Blackwater and Peak Downs produce around 12 million tonnes per year.

Another problem with the Greens' rationale for the bill is that they want to count emissions that are not created in Australia. Adani is exporting all of its coal to Indian power generators—a country where around 300 million people have no access to utility-scale power. I point out that the Paris climate agreement makes each signatory nation responsible for its own national emissions and responsible for its emission reduction commitments. The IPCC has a territorial emissions accounting system, which counts only the emissions produced within a country's borders. This is the system used to measure the Kyoto and Paris agreements. There is also the system that our own Department of the Environment and Energy uses to plot Australian greenhouse gas emissions. Australia can't be responsible for India's emissions any more than Australia can shirk its responsibilities for emissions created by imported gasoline and aviation fuel.

There are several other points to be made about the Galilee Basin bill, and the most obvious are economic. Our resources sector is an important industry. Resources made $290 billion worth of exports in the last financial year and account for more than 50 per cent of Australian exports by value. How does the resources sector do this? It takes a workforce of more than 240,000 people—around 1.1 million people when you factor in the associated resources businesses and the services sector. More than half of the resources sector's employees live in regional Australia, making it a cornerstone of many regional economies.

There are 52,000 Australians working in the coalmining industry. These are highly skilled people who earn more than the average wage. Resources employees earn, on average, $2,659 per week, which is 65 per cent higher than the national average wage. And 67 per cent of the minerals workforce hold a certificate III level qualification or higher, and apprentices and trainees make up four per cent of the national workforce.

The resources sector has a higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working for it than any other industry. The mining sector employed 6,599 Indigenous Australians in 2016, which is 3.9 per cent of Indigenous employees. That's 2½ times the number that were employed in 2006. By comparison, non-Indigenous mining employment grew by 1½ times over the same period. More than 60 per cent of Australian minerals projects neighbour Indigenous communities.

There are broader economic benefits attributable to the mining industry. Deloitte Access Economics say that the mining industry paid $185 billion in federal company tax and state and territory royalties between 2006 and 2016. In the financial year ending 2017, the minerals sector paid $12.1 billion in company tax and $11.2 billion in royalties, making the resources sector the second-largest contributor to company tax revenue. Labor welcomes the royalties and taxes paid by mining companies. They fund our education and health sectors and make possible so much of our civil infrastructure.

Projects such as the Adani mine in the Galilee Basin also require a lot of investment in the form of capital expenditure. This is the investment you make upfront before you earn any revenue. Most of that investment is foreign direct investment, which is known as FDI. The mining sector relies on foreign direct investment. According to DFAT, there was $365.5 billion of FDI in Australian mining in 2018, which was 37.8 per cent of all FDI in Australia. The Queensland government has estimated that, for every $1 billion in FDI into Australia, 1,000 jobs are created.

Most senators would know that one of the many drivers of FDI in Australia is low sovereign risk. Indeed, CSIRO has nominated our favourable environment with 'social-economic and political stability, with supportive national policies and services' as a competitive advantage for Australia when attracting investment. Given this global advantage we should all be concerned with actions that put Australia's reputation at risk, such as with proposed laws that can nullify or expropriate significant capital investments. Labor is committed to maintaining a positive sovereign risk profile for Australian mining because, without foreign direct investment, we wouldn't have the resources sector as we know it.

Labor also acknowledges that the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018 has the potential to be inconsistent with the Constitution, which prohibits expropriation without just compensation and therefore potentially leaves the Australian government liable for compensation payments. Labor does not support actions, policies or legislation which would have the effect of stripping investors of lawfully held assets, titles, tenements and/or approvals.

We should also recognise that Australia already has a high-quality system of approvals and oversight when it comes to unlocking our resources. These approvals are run by the state, territory and Commonwealth governments, and they are predominantly driven by independent, evidence based agencies and highly professional, experienced people. So, given the number of Queensland and Commonwealth hurdles that the Adani company has had to jump, not to mention the court challenges and ministerial decisions, we, meaning Labor, don't believe it's advantageous to this nation in the long term to have legislation that singles out companies and even people for prohibition.

The facts are these: Australia is a country that digs up minerals and extracts oil and gas, and we sell these products to the world. These products bring good jobs and make us a truly wealthy nation, with a capacity to fund the best in health care, education and public infrastructure. Adani has done nothing wrong. The company seems to have met all of our approvals criteria. The company says it will create around 1,500 jobs in central Queensland and will eventually inject no less than $21 billion into the Australian economy. It is building rail infrastructure, and the mine will have an operating life of up to 90 years. These are not inconsiderable benefits for regional Australians. Because this issue focuses so strongly on emissions, let's remember that the Adani company is also investing in renewables. It has a solar farm at Moranbah, which can power up to 23,000 homes. It is building an even larger solar facility in Whyalla, South Australia.

Why am I talking about renewables? It is because Labor is committed to renewable energy and greenhouse gas abatement strategies that keep Australia in line with the Paris climate agreement's attempt to keep global warming beneath two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Labor will pursue policies that ensure Australia has net zero emissions by 2050—no surprise. However, Australian coal is exported to the Asia-Pacific market, both thermal and metallurgical coal, because of that region's need for cheap, reliable power generation and for steelmaking. The International Energy Agency, in its World energy outlook 2018, noted that, because of Asia-Pacific demand, Australian coal exports would grow by 20 per cent by 2040. Australia will continue to earn revenues by selling high-quality coal to the Asia-Pacific so that they can develop their economies.

Labor supports the development of renewables as part of Australia's future energy solutions. Unlike Senator Canavan, the former resources minister, who we just heard from, Labor does not see renewables as 'dole bludgers'. Large resources companies are already investing in renewables and future energy technologies. Shell's new commercial solar farm project in Queensland is a real example of how the resources sector is ensuring that it is part of the renewable energy future. The Gangarri solar project is a partnership with the local tradition owners, the Yiman people. The project will provide rewarding jobs and training opportunities, building capacity and support for local community groups. It will produce 120 megawatts, which is enough energy to power 50,000 homes and reduce emissions by 300,000 tonnes per year. This is a good thing.

Another renewable project in WA is the Agnew gold mine, which will be home to Australia's largest hybrid renewable energy microgrid and the first mine site to use wind generation. According to Agnew, the microgrid will have a total power generation capacity of 54 megawatts, including 19 megawatts of gas and diesel, 18 megawatts of wind, four megawatts of solar and 13 megawatts of battery storage—Adani's Whyalla and Moranbah renewables projects are in keeping with this investment. It's also striving to be a leading supplier of renewable energy in Australia. It's an example of how the resources sector is doing its bit to get the balance right in our future energy solutions.

Australia should be a leader in reducing emissions. Australia should be a leader in finding solutions for other countries who also want to reduce their emissions, even as Labor does not support providing public funding or concessional loans for the development of the Galilee Basin. If investments or developments are to occur, they must stack up financially without public assistance. However, Australia has a role to play in ensuring that countries who do not enjoy access to electricity are able to, due to our resources sector. The Greens don't have the right to pick and choose who will have access to reliable and affordable power, and they don't have the right to destabilise what is a successful and stable investment environment for resources and energy projects in our proud nation. Labor opposes the bill.

11:50 am

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This proposal by Greens Senator Larissa Waters to prohibit the mining of thermal coal in Queensland's Galilee Basin will financially ruin my home state of Queensland. Some 36,000 Queensland coalmining jobs rely on this industry, and you can safely say tens of thousands of additional jobs also trade off the back of the Queensland coal industry. This bill, the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018, not only reflects the Greens' attitude towards coal and mine workers but it's also a carbon copy of Jackie Trad's and Labor's Palaszczuk government's approach to the industry. The Labor Party in Queensland have established a 'just transition' group which is designed to make baristas out of coalminers and take their salaries of $100,000 or more to just $24.29 an hour. Without mining in Queensland, we have zero chance of paying off the $90-plus billion debt the state government—a Labor government—has racked up. This Greens bill to prohibit the mining of thermal coal in Queensland's Galilee Basin will not only shut down 247,000 square kilometres of the Galilee Basin in Queensland but also kill many towns I have spent a lot of time in, like Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Cawarral, Sarina, Mackay, Moranbah, Nebo, Glenden, Dysart, Proserpine, Bowen, Ayr, Townsville and Belyando Crossing. These are just a few of the towns the Greens have sentenced to a slow but sure death, and I won't tolerate it.

In 2012, well before I was elected to the Senate, I watched property prices plummet by 62 per cent in Moranbah because there was a slump in mining. The downturn in coalmining sent countless hardworking families to the wall. These were families who were prepared to move out of the city and live in regional Queensland to make sure city slickers like Senator Waters and her Greens colleagues can live in their coal powered cities. These little mining towns lost countless businesses too. They'll never go back. The reality is the world is still embracing coal-fired power stations. Even The Australia Institute, who are no friends of coal, have conceded there are no fewer than 154 new coal-fired power stations under construction across the globe. Add to that more than 1,000 additional coal-fired power stations on the drawing boards of many other nations across the world. Some of these countries include Germany, Japan, Indonesia, India and the European Union. Most are signatories to the Paris Agreement.

The Galilee Basin will offer the whole of Australia and countries across the globe cheap, affordable base-load power, and there is no denying that. The Greens are completely reckless with their ill-conceived policies, and this bill should be sent to the shredder, never to be seen again. The Greens will stop at nothing to shut down coal. They continue to lie about the destruction of our Great Barrier Reef, using fake photos. They make out coal is killing our koalas and starting bushfires. The Greens are full of it, and the sooner Australians wake up to their rot the better. One Nation will not support the shutdown of the mining industry in Queensland and will, therefore, vote against the Greens bill to prohibit the mining of thermal coal in Queensland's Galilee Basin. But One Nation is pushing for a coal-fired power station at Collinsville where there used to be one.

We actually are supplying power across Queensland, and, when they run out of power in the southern states, they rely on Queensland to supply that power. A known fact is that solar panels are not the answer to delivering the power that we need in Queensland. They have 2,000 acres outside Collinsville with 453,000 panels. Those panels are not delivering the power that they need to because the rats are chewing the wires. It is a constant problem that they have. At Kogan Creek, the state and federal governments invested $110 million into solar panels. Not one milliamp of power was delivered to the power station beside them, yet now they're being dismantled. Look at South Australia and the $600 million invested in solar panels or the wind farms that are not even connected up because they can't deliver reliable power. What does Australia do when, just like over the last couple of weeks, it is overcast and there is rain? There was no power coming from the solar panels. So we do need a diversity of power, but in shutting down the power stations in Australia or across the world—because that's what you are doing by prohibiting coal—the fact is that we won't have that reliable, dispatchable, cheap power.

I've travelled across my state quite extensively and spoken to business owners. Because they have to have a mix and because of the escalating power prices in Australia, we are seeing our industries and manufacturing shutting down to go overseas. We will see a further loss of jobs. And I'm fed up with hearing the Greens—and much of it is said on the floor of this parliament—absolutely telling our younger generation about the threat that coal poses to our Great Barrier Reef. Professor Peter Ridd, who has worked on the reef for 35 years, has said, 'Coalmining has no effect on the reef.' Actually he has said, 'The reef is in great shape.' There's only about one per cent of it that has been subject to coral bleaching, and it's not from coalmining. It has absolutely nothing to do with it. With all the fearmongering that goes on in this place, the Greens have never debated and put their argument forward. And that's the problem within Australia: we have listened to the fearmongers and we have never had an actual debate and heard from the scientists about what global warming is about.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in accordance with their charter, will actually only look at man-made climate change. They will not look at any other climate change whatsoever. It's not in their charter. So we have not been told the truth. Here we are making policies for our country for the future generations and our businesses, and we are not being told the truth. We need to debate this. We need to know the truth. Our kids' heads are being filled with rubbish by those who are pushing their own agenda. As I said last week about the indoctrination in the education system, climate change has definitely won. When Stewart Dimmock from the UK challenged the education system and his case was put before the courts, the judge was told by the IPCC that the Himalayas were actually melting. That wasn't the case. That was a farce by the media and some group of people who were pushing their own agenda.

We all have a right to a place in this parliament to express our views and concerns, and I don't deny anyone that. But when we are talking about the future generations and whether our pensioners can afford to turn on some heating or cool themselves down and when jobs are going to be lost, I think we need to know the truth. And, if we are wrong, then we admit to that, but we need to have a clear debate on this. The Greens' whole attitude to this is 'shut down coalmining', but there has never been a real debate to understand why. Even the Australian scientists said, 'If we shut down everything in Australia now, it would not make one bit of difference to the global temperature—not one bit.'

Our emissions are 1.3 per cent. Those are our emissions. And yet we seem to be intent on leading the world on shutting down to stop global warming when we have countries like China and India way above that percentage level—even Canada and New Zealand are. Like I said, this proposal, this bill, by Senator Larissa Waters needs to be shredded. It needs to be thrown into the bin. One Nation will definitely not be supporting it.

12:00 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to rise in opposition to this Greens bill, the Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018. I start my contribution by saying that as a regionally based senator in Victoria I am incredibly concerned about what bills like this may do if they are ever passed—it doesn't look like there's any prospect of that for this bill—in terms of undermining jobs in our resources sector and in the mining sector, in particular.

In opposing coalmining in the Galilee Basin, the Greens are putting at risk around 1,500 direct jobs and almost 7,000 supporting jobs at the Adani Carmichael mine. These are real families and communities which depend on a strong and viable resources industry. As I say, this could well be the first of a number of bills from the Greens to totally shut down and abolish mining in Australia. This is an industry which generates $279 billion—these are the 2018-19 figures—with coal itself generating some $70 billion. The Greens policies will put at risk the jobs of nearly 14,000 people employed during construction of mines and associated rail projects, the jobs of more than 11,000 people employed in ongoing roles in the mines and supporting infrastructure and $34 billion invested in bringing the mines into production as well as new infrastructure, including rail infrastructure. The coal industry contributes more than $6 billion annually in royalties across Australia and accounts for over 50,000 direct jobs, with the majority of those jobs in regional areas.

This is quite ironic. It comes at a time when the Labor Party has announced its so-called plan for net zero emissions by 2050, which, as I have already said publicly this morning, is not a plan but a slogan. It's unfunded and uncosted, and I think Australians have every right to feel pretty confused about where Labor sits at the moment. On the one hand, it's talking about zero emissions, with no consideration for the economy-wide impact that that might have, particularly the impact that that might have on coal, steel, aluminium and other extractive industries. So there's no consideration of the broader ramifications. It is talking about this so-called plan—or, as I say, slogan—without any plan whatsoever. It's uncosted. It's unfunded. So, as I say, Australians have every right to be very confused about Labor's position.

Labor's reliance on, and alliance with, the Greens continues to threaten Australia's coal industry, which is a key pillar of our economy and which provides cheap and secure electricity and jobs and funds vital services. Labor talks about energy security, including through gas and coal, and yet we have a situation in Victoria where the Victorian Labor government is continuing its moratorium on onshore conventional gas. It says it's okay to extract the gas offshore—the same gas in the same basin—but not onshore. This is an extraction and exploration that does not require fracking. So that particular contention that some make needs to be put to rest. We have a situation where Labor is actively operating to destabilise the energy market in Victoria, including by encouraging the shutdown of Hazelwood.

Depending on who you talk to in the Labor Party, you hear a different story. There is a huge internal war going on in the Labor Party. The Otis group has one view and then there are others on the Left who have a very different view. For instance, Mr Fitzgibbon lauds the prospect of Australia's clean and efficient coal on the back of demand in China and India. And then other Labor MPs have repeatedly opposed or undermined the Adani project and the opening up of the Galilee Basin for coalmining.

We heard Senator Sterle speaking in very supportive terms about Adani, and yet that's in stark contrast to what was heard leading up to the election when many Labor MPs, including the former Leader of the Opposition Mr Shorten were condemning Adani. Then, of course, there's Mr Marles, the member for Corio, Labor's deputy leader, who argued that it was a good thing that the thermal coal market would collapse. So here we are: Mr Marles is continuing to ignore the continued demand for thermal coal, especially in the developing economies of Asia, and then we have another very, very different story here in the chamber today.

I also want to place on record that the member for Hindmarsh, Mr Butler, the shadow for climate change and energy said 'development of the Galilee Basin is not in Australia's national interest' and declared it would 'not be a positive thing for Australia for the Adani mine to go ahead.' I am not sure how that sits with the contribution that we have just heard from Senator Sterle, but it does reinforce the position that Labor is all at sea when it comes to its position on coal.

But I tell you what, the coalminers of Australia worked it out. They worked it out before the last election—55,000 of them. They worked it out. Whether they work in a coalmine, whether they work in industry, in heavy industries. or whether they work as a manufacturer, they worked out that Labor deserted them in the lead-up to the last election. Their policies were totally contrary to the needs of many blue-collar workers in Australia. They worked out that the only party standing up for them is the Liberal National Party. And it's a bit of a joke when you hear contributions from Senator Sterle after what we have heard in recent months. The Leader of the Opposition went to the north of Sydney and up to Brisbane, telling one story in the north of Queensland and then another very different story when he went down to Melbourne.

We very much condemn this bill. I want to also place on record that our government is working extremely hard to drive down emissions and is having substantial success, including—and this is the Energy Security Board—delivering renewable investment as a proportion of total energy of 40 per cent by 2030. Last year 16 per cent of supply came from renewables. By 2022 it will be 27 per cent. By 2030 it will be 40 per cent. So very, very substantial investment is going into renewables, driving our renewable energy industry, driving down emissions, but not in a way that will be economy wrecking and not in a way that will undermine our coal and gas industries, which are very important for our entire energy security. I thank the chamber for the opportunity to speak on this bill. I, again, reiterate our opposition to this bill.

12:09 pm

Photo of Nita GreenNita Green (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I've said this before and I will say this again: I'm very proud to live in regional Queensland, an area that boasts rich resources and natural wonders. Despite the distance between towns and the diversity between each regional community, we are very proud of where we live and the contribution that regional Queenslanders make to Queensland and the national economy.

In North Queensland, you can drive from the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage listed rainforests that tourists from all over the world come to see through to cane farms and agricultural land. You can drive past sugar mills and manufacturing hubs, past ports and our marine industry and up to mines and processing refineries for every mineral and resource that we have to offer. Regional Queenslanders understand very deeply the connection between our lands, our environment and our jobs. Regional Queenslanders also understand the threats that climate change and the government's inability to implement genuine policies to combat climate change pose to our economic prosperity and to our livelihoods. Regional Queenslanders have experienced fires, floods, cyclones and higher water temperatures, increasing the costs of recovery and insurance for households.

The government's policy paralysis on energy has led to instability and uncertainty for jobs and businesses in regional Queensland. We know that climate change is impacting the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which supports thousands of jobs. In Far North Queensland, islands in the Torres Strait are bracing for rising sea levels. They may be Australia's first climate change refugees if predictions of sea level rises are accurate.

When we talk about climate change in this place, it's never lost on me that the Queenslanders least responsible for the emissions that cause the climate to change are the least equipped to defend against the effects that they will feel before any person in any city who waves a placard around in support of either side of this debate. This dichotomy that lives and breathes in regional Queensland every day is why, in my first speech, I said:

Job security for Queenslanders and the dangers of climate change are interlinked. Queenslanders want and deserve secure jobs.

…   …   …

The only way to win an outcome that ensures a prosperous and healthy future for our state is to listen to Queenslanders, not talk at them or speak about them in abstract terms. Every regional Queenslander deserves to be treated with respect.

This Galilee Basin (Coal Prohibition) Bill 2018 doesn't respect regional Queenslanders. It singles out regional Queensland. It doesn't talk about jobs or the future of jobs and it doesn't talk about the economic plan required for Australia to reach emission goals. It doesn't give regional Queenslanders a stake in their prosperity or recognise their right to have their voices heard. This bill singles out regional Queensland unfairly and unjustly for the sole purpose of wedging this parliament and the members of the Labor Party who care about climate change and care about jobs. It is wedge legislation at its very finest—another stunt from the Greens.

It was less than two minutes into Senator Waters's speech today before she attacked the Labor Party and before she attacked the Queensland state Labor government. So we know what the true purpose of this bill really is. It's about Maiwar; it's not about Moranbah. It's about South Brisbane; it's not about South Johnstone. This is a legislation version of the Greens' convoy to Clermont in the lead-up to the election. And didn't that go so well, as we all know. You would have thought that the Greens had learnt from their catastrophic failings at the last election, but, clearly, they haven't.

Former senator Bob Brown last week described regional Queenslanders who stood up to the convoy as 'cranky, nasty and inhospitable' and went on to call them an 'unruly mob fuelled by grog'. That's what the Greens think about regional Queenslanders. They haven't learnt their lessons. When there is so much at stake for our country if we don't get climate change settings right, stunts from the Greens are selfish and self-indulgent.

This bill does nothing to reduce Australians' climate emissions. While alternative sources of energy are being produced in places like regional Queensland, a switch to low emissions can't happen overnight, and this bill isn't actually proposing any plan to make that switch happen. It just wants to turn the switch off overnight. And when it comes to protecting local jobs, this bill is poorly thought out.

In her second reading speech, Senator Waters said that the Greens were prepared to consult with communities affected by market changes in the demand for thermal coal, but the explanatory memorandum to this bill says that the bill would have no financial impact. We know that that is not true. The truth is the Greens pretend to listen. They pretend to be interested. But I haven't heard them listening to people in Mackay or Townsville or workers who would be affected by a bill like this.

What bills like this do is give a platform to the climate change deniers in the government who claim that any action on climate change will result in job losses across places that can afford it the least. It gives them a platform to argue against more renewable energy and for less action on climate change. You will note that Senator Canavan took the opportunity to also attack the Queensland Labor government in his second reading contribution today. It's quite a common theme coming from that end of the chamber. These so-called defenders of coal workers have never stood up to labour hire. They have never stood up against automation. They want to make workplaces less safe, so more people die in coalmines across Queensland. They have never seen a manufacturing job they wouldn't privatise or casualise or send offshore. But they come in here saying they are standing up for coal workers. We know that is not the truth.

The truth is, because the government is being held back by climate change sceptics on their backbench, and even on their frontbench now, they have failed to take any meaningful action on emissions. We know that the latest emissions data confirms that the Morrison government's climate change policy is hopelessly inadequate. There was no reduction in emissions in the September quarter of 2019, and annual emissions have reduced by only a pitiful 0.3 per cent year to date. Australia will not meet its Kyoto commitment to cut emissions by five per cent in 2020. In fact, emissions reductions will amount to little more than a rounding error. The government's own data suggests that emissions will come down during the next years but only by less than five per cent. At that rate, it will take Australia 230 years to reach net zero emissions, rather than the 30 years scientists tell us is necessary. While the hard Right of the divided government party room continues to dictate climate policy, there will be no progress in tackling climate change.

Labor has been listening and understands that our economy and jobs are at risk if we do not address climate change. That is why Anthony Albanese announced last week that a future Labor government will commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are doing that in a practical way, with a long-term target, without singling out any community, region or industry. Labor is committing to net zero emissions by 2050 because that is what the science tells us we need to do, to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change. This is sensible and will bring us in step with other states and territories, and it is supported by the Business Council of Australia and energy companies because they want certainty. They want a long-term target. It is good policy.

It's interesting to note that this announcement has triggered the climate change deniers in the government and the Greens on this side of the chamber equally, which just shows you how sad and sorry sensible debate in this space has now become. Even though so-called moderate Liberals, like Trent Zimmerman, have called on the government to support net zero emissions by 2050, we've still got members of their government out there banging their pots and pans on their heads and making outlandish doomsday claims. The Greens have also attacked the target. If you have a look at the Twitter feeds of some of the Greens over the last couple of days, it's easy to see who they think the target is at the next election. It's not the conservatives over there, who are doing nothing about climate change; it's the Labor Party, who want to introduce a plan to help workers and prevent further changes in our climate. Regional Queenslanders deserve better than the nonsense coming from that end of the chamber, from both sides of the chamber, on this debate. We need to take action on climate change. We want to create jobs and protect jobs, and only the Australian Labor Party wants to do both.

Finally, I'll refer back to what I said in my first speech: there are regional Queenslanders, right now, who are desperate for jobs.

Debate interrupted.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Green. We are now at 12:20 pm, so we move to government business.