Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to Senator Birmingham, representing the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister told the G7 summit that Australia will join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and that Australia is committed to protecting a combined 30 per cent of domestic land and oceans by 2030. But the goal of the HAC is to protect 30 per cent land plus 30 per cent oceans. Isn't this just more trickery from your government on global commitments, just like wanting to use carryover credits to meet the Paris targets and commitments?
I thank Senator Hanson-Young for at least the opportunity to note further some of the successes of the Prime Minister's visit to the G7 summit and associated meetings. We have had the opportunity in question time to highlight the benefits of the Australia-UK free trade agreement, but that wasn't the only agreement that the Prime Minister signed as part of his work overseas. The Prime Minister made other commitments. Those included hydrogen cooperation commitments with Germany and with Singapore as part of our technology road map and our commitment to engaging with international partners around how it is we drive down emissions in the future through new technologies that Australia can play a leadership role in. We signed an agreement with Japan in relation to decarbonisation.
Senator Hanson-Young, it was a particularly broad question, and I've ruled before that when questions include contentious phrases ministers have more discretion in answering. I am listening carefully to the minister, but specific questions are easier to make rulings around direct relevance. Senator Birmingham.
I would have thought the Greens would have welcomed the agreement between Australia and Japan in relation to cooperation on decarbonisation, building on those other agreements that the Prime Minister entered into whilst overseas.
Senator Hanson-Young has asked particularly about oceans, and, of course, Australia has responsibility for some of the broadest reach of oceans in the world and that's why in the recent budget our government released a further $100 million as part of an oceans package to further strengthen our leadership in relation to marine management and ocean protection. That includes some $30 million to restore coastal marine ecosystems, particularly those systems such as mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes, but it also includes some $40 million to expand the marine park network into the Indian Ocean and protect 45 per cent of Australian waters, as well as to extend to incorporate sea country into Indigenous protected areas across some nine locations, further expanding not only those networks of protected areas but especially Indigenous protected areas. (Time expired)
I note the minister didn't reference the 30 per cent need for protection of domestic land. Isn't it true that, if these weak environment laws that the Prime Minister wants pushed through this place this week were to pass the Senate, there's no way you could meet this commitment? The Prime Minister's just signed up to something he knows he will never be able to reach.
What Senator Hanson-Young describes as weak, our government is determined to make sure are effective. Our definition of effective isn't to simply have laws in place that are a quagmire of bureaucracy and stop everything. Our definition of effective as a government is to make sure they protect the nationally significant environmental assets that need protection but also facilitate development and opportunity across the Australian economy that jobs depend upon.
Again, in the recent budget we outlined close to $30 million in further support around Australia's environment laws and particularly around the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Funding to ensure the operation of an independent environment insurance commissioner, to pursue a pilot regional plan for a priority development region in partnership with a state or territory, to further support stakeholder engagement in relation to Indigenous cultural heritage, things I would expect the Greens to welcome, but of course they never— (Time expired)
For the Greens and, particularly, for Senator Hanson-Young, we know there's the YouTube moment that will be sliced and diced into a little clip that will be used! It's all about the cheap grab, the cheap stunt and never about the serious policy work or analysis as to how you achieve the objectives of absolutely protecting Australia's biodiversity, of protecting Australia's wildlife but also enabling business to operate in a commercially competitive way in Australia in a very competitive global landscape. The types of approaches our government seeks to bring, following the very thorough review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, are all about ensuring that we have effective environmental protections in place, that we work in a more harmonised way with the states and territories for the application of those protections but that we don't have a quagmire of bureaucracy that prohibits projects from even getting off the ground, as the Greens seem to prefer.