Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

4:01 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I inform the Senate that at 8.30 today 14 proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was determined by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the letter from Senator Waters proposing a matter of urgency was chosen:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I propose that the following matter of public importance be submitted to the Senate for discussion:

The world is rapidly warming and, unless emergency action is taken, could reach 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures within the next decade, putting Australians at risk of more frequent and more intense heatwaves, fires, droughts and floods.

Is the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

It is. I understand that informal arrangements have been made to allocate specific times to each of the speakers in today's debate. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall ask the clerks to set the clock accordingly.

4:02 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The world is rapidly warming and, unless emergency action is taken, could reach 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures within the next decade, putting Australians at risk of more frequent and more intense heatwaves, fires, droughts and floods.

In fact, it poses a risk to humanity. As was commented yesterday by the IPCC and the UN Secretary-General, this is a code red for humanity. For some of us, we have been saying this and urging for action and campaigning for action for years. I personally have been campaigning for this for over 32 years with basically the same message: climate change is coming. Climate change is happening. We risk everything on our planet through our inaction on the threat of climate change, and now we are facing the reality. There are bushfires around Australia, bushfires in northern Europe, bushfires in northern America. Floods and lots of rainfall: that's been happening in my home state in Western Australia, in the south-west of WA, for decades. You can see it step down, yet what happens? There's no action. This should be a time when this place comes together and shows leadership in the face of this massive crisis, the catastrophe that we face. As a species we have threatened every species on this planet. It's not just about us, folks. This is about every species on this planet.

The IPCC's sixth assessment report is clear: climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. Climate change and its impacts are accelerating across the planet. Unless we make immediate and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will be beyond our reach. That goal is fast disappearing.

The report sets out five new emissions scenarios illustrating possible climate futures. It paints a terrifying picture for Australia, one that we have been warned about for years. The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather is projected to increase throughout Australia. As global temperatures rise from 1.5 degrees to two degrees and beyond, heatwaves, floods and other extreme events will become more widespread.

If that hadn't broken my heart already, my heart would have broken when I learned about what's going to happen to our oceans. There will be a further increase in marine heatwaves and ocean acidity in Australia. This poses severe challenges for our beautiful, world-renowned marine ecosystems, including precious places like Ningaloo and Shark Bay, places that we in Western Australia hold dear to our hearts. Scientists are virtually certain that global mean sea level will continue to rise over the 21st century. Even under the most ambitious cuts to emissions, the world's oceans will probably rise between 28 and 55 centimetres, but, if emissions remain very high, seas will rise between 63 and— (Time expired)

4:06 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak on this matter of urgency. The motion today warns of more intense heatwaves, fires, droughts and floods, but I can tell you now that what we are going to see more of is the despicable behaviour that we saw out the front of this building this morning. We're going to see more of this vandalism, criminal behaviour and terrorism—yes, terrorism, because what these people are doing is terrorising employees who are just going about their daily jobs, doing their work. They do not expect to be confronted by people bearing cans of paint and buckets of goodness knows what, supergluing themselves all over the place—with glue made by the oil and gas industry, by the way. These people should not have to expect to have this sort of terrorism perpetrated at their workplace. We saw it not just today but last week at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. We saw employees going about their daily work—working for the people of Australia, working for the government—being terrorised by these despicable bunches of people.

These people over here to my right condone this sort of behaviour. Not only do they condone it; they encourage it. They think it's a good thing. Some even choose to congratulate these terrorist groups for perpetrating this sort of behaviour.

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There is a point of order, I understand, from Senator Siewert. What is the point of order?

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

These groups are not terrorist groups, and Senator McMahon is instilling fear into the community. It's outrageous.

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Siewert, that is a debating point. Please resume your seat, unless you're willing to articulate what it is that you are making a point of order on. Is it on relevance or another matter?

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

It is the fact that Senator McMahon is labelling environment groups as terrorist groups.

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

No, that is a debating point. Sorry, Senator Siewert.

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Siewert, I use the word 'terrorist' in the true meaning—they are terrorising. That is exactly what they are doing. They are terrorising people. They're terrorising employees, they're terrorising people in this building and they're terrorising the general public. That is exactly what they are doing. They are inflicting fear and terror on the general public.

This government does take environmental change—climate change, warming, cooling, whatever is going on—seriously, and we are committed to doing our part to fulfil Australia's commitment. We are on track to not only meet our 2030 targets but, in fact, exceed them.

I think it's important that we play our part in addressing all types of pollution, whether it's emissions or plastics. There's a whole range of factors that are affecting our environment. We must play our part. But, throughout history, the temperature of the earth has been dictated by sunspot activity. We have no control over sunspot activity. There has been the medieval warm period, where the earth warmed. There have been ice ages, and, in fact, a lot of scientists predict currently that we are heading into a period of low sunspot activity. That doesn't take away from our obligation to play our part, but it is certainly not the case that the temperature of the earth is completely controlled by carbon emissions. That is a falsehood. That is not a fact.

If we are serious about lowering our emissions and if we are really serious about Australia meeting and exceeding our targets, lowering our emissions and still having reliable, affordable, dispatchable energy, then I refer to Senator Lambie's question during question time: why are we not looking at nuclear power? This has to be a consideration in our energy mix if we are to meet our targets and not destroy our economy and our way of life. If we look at the developed nations around the world that have low emissions—countries in Europe, the UK and America—they all have nuclear power as part of their energy mix. In fact, all of the developed countries that have low-emissions footprints have either nuclear power in their energy mix or access to large hydro schemes. So I would say that, if we are serious about meeting and exceeding our targets, we should be looking at nuclear power: Canada, 15 per cent; the UK and America, 20 per cent. We have an abundance of fuel here in Australia. (Time expired)

4:12 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Finance) Share this | | Hansard source

In a way, Senator McMahon's contribution highlights again the failure of all of us, really, to work out a way forward on how we deal with the issues that are raised in the IPCC report. It is with some sadness and despair, actually, that I have to give a speech today trying to argue about the need for change and the need to address climate change. This is the sixth report based on the science that clearly makes the case for the urgent need for change. Yet here we are in this place—leaders. All of us here were elected to do a job, and we still can't agree on the way forward. That has been the problem that has plagued this parliament for more than a decade. Meanwhile, the science keeps coming in and the evidence keeps coming in. Every summer, we see the bushfires get worse. Every winter, we watch the fires in the Northern Hemisphere get worse. We see the floods and the natural disasters that come and hit our shores. We see the plight of people in the Pacific. It's commonly understood. Even the ACT resident climate-change denier today—now with ministerial responsibility—kind of acknowledges that.

This is the world that our children are growing up in, including my children, who had to remain inside because the smoke was so thick in the ACT. We had the worst air pollution anywhere in the world, about two years ago, from the fires that were all around our borders. This is the world that my children are growing up in. They get it. The overwhelming majority of young people get it, because they see it and they've got a stake in what happens. Yet, here we are, the leaders of the country in a political sense, and we're still working out what to do, whether to convince each other and pointing the finger. It's just devastating.

I used to believe in good policy being made in chambers like this. That's why I got into politics: to make a difference, to be part of the debate. I used to believe that governments could bring people together, that they could show leadership and could, when they reach across the aisle and bring stakeholders together, make good policy in the national interest. Yet, for the past eight years, I've watched the politics of climate change get kicked around, weaponised.

There now seems to be, from the government's point of view, a moratorium on good policy. They're not even interested, because it's about power; it's not about policy. It's not about the future. It's not about making sure the decisions we make today give us a fighting chance of making sure that our kids and our grandkids don't inherit a dying planet. It's not about that anymore; it's about power. It's about dealing with division and disagreement from within the government.

Every time Labor has said, 'We will support you on this policy,' on one of the many different policies you've tried to get up—let's pick the one that you used before you necked Malcom Turnbull—when we reach across the chamber, even when it's not what we would have done, but it's a step in the right direction, what's the response? You get rid of the Prime Minister and completely walk away from it, and another two or three years is lost.

Meanwhile, we get these reports that tell us we've got to act and if we don't act it's going to be a disaster. Then the government just trots out its three dot points that it's been using for the past few years: one, our emissions have gone down; two, Australia beat its 2020 targets—I think the language is 'meet and beat'—and three, we're committed to Paris and we have a flimsy commitment to 2050 as soon as possible or preferable. That's the only answer we've got. Surely we're better than this.

We have to convince people from here. I get that not everybody across Australia agrees with where the Greens are. A lot of people don't; the majority don't. So lecturing from that side doesn't work. There has to be somewhere in the centre where people from your side and our side and their side can find some common place to deal with the disaster that this report clearly shows will happen if we don't do more. That's what the community expects from us: to engage with those who don't believe, to understand their worries. I get that there are people worried about their economic future and what it means for them, for their job, for their kid's job, for their livelihood.

Change is hard; leading change is hard. Being in government is hard. I get all that. But someone has to lead, and people expect the elected government of the day to lead, not to point the finger at everybody else and use slogans like 'technology not taxes' and keep saying it and saying it and hoping that this is the message that gets through but to go deeper, convince people, talk to people, tell them what it's going to be like in their region when climate change, as outlined in this report, lands on their doorstep.

But the people in power now don't care. They'll be gone. It won't be Scott Morrison answering to people as fires and flood and drought change the way we live. It won't be him answering to that. It will be some other person, probably not in the parliament yet, who'll be faced with explaining why there was a decade of lost opportunity from this government. It will be up to that person to explain to generations why the changes that are brought in then are going to be harder, their lives are going to be harder and livelihoods are going to be harder because we didn't take the message seriously.

I don't want to have to listen to another government member saying: 'We take this seriously. We are acting.' It's a load of rubbish. It's absolute rubbish. They're working out how to stay in power. That is a disgrace, when this is one of the biggest issues facing this country. You can pretend all you like that it's not coming, but the history books will show we were warned and we should have done something more. It won't reflect well on this government, not that I think that will matter to them. I don't think it does. It probably won't matter to Senator Roberts either, who is smiling through this presentation. But it matters to people who want good policy in this country, who want to make sure that future generations have jobs, livelihoods, that can compete in a global world. That matters. It matters to me that my kids and their kids think that this generation tried to do something, or more than tried and actually did something. That's what motivates people to actually call for serious action on climate.

This report is damning. It is scary. I know people will try to pass it off and say, 'It's just another report. It's not true.' I'm sure we'll have a presentation like that from Senator Roberts soon. But the reports have been right so far. Anyone who has watched the floods, fires and other natural disasters criss-crossing between the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere knows it's true. We should be better. We should be able to do something. We should be able to work together to do it. It might not be exactly what we want, but we should do something more. It should move beyond slogans of power and into actually doing the job that we've been elected to do, which is to look after not only people now but also generations in the future. That's the big failure of this government today.

4:22 pm

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

This is not a matter of urgency. Even the Greens' motion says the temperature 'could' reach 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. So what? It does not say anywhere in that report, from what I've been told—and I will be reading it—that it will. Senator Gallagher is completely wrong. This is not an emergency and not a matter of urgency. The report does not show what will happen. It says what could happen. There is no empirical scientific evidence that backs this up. Science is decided not by emotions or whims or daughters saying, 'There's smoke in the air, Mummy; that must be climate change.' That's not it. It's not decided by Senator Watt and Senator Wong having an all-out battle with the Greens this morning. Not once did anyone talk about the science. Not once did that happen. Instead they were talking about each other and who was going to get their votes off the climate alarmists. That's it.

We are now at day 701, almost two years, since I challenged Senator Waters and Senator Di Natale in this place to provide the empirical scientific evidence that shows that carbon dioxide from human activity affects the climate and needs to be cut. I also challenged them at the same time, 701 days ago, to debate me on the science behind the climate alarm and also the corruption of climate science. Not once since has Senator Waters presented any such evidence proving causation of human induced climate change. I also challenged her almost 11 years ago in public. I've never seen a person move so quickly. She jumped to her feet and said, 'I will not debate you.' Why? It's because, like Extinction Rebellion damaging this parliament, the Greens are just spouting out emotion, fluff and nonsense. But it's emotion riddled nonsense. That's what gets people in.

Let's look at the facts. I've challenged the CSIRO to provide me facts. Firstly, over the course of three presentations, the CSIRO have admitted that they never said that carbon dioxide from human activity is a danger.

Secondly, they admitted that today's temperatures are not unprecedented. 'Not unprecedented'; it's happened before. In fact, they've been four degrees warmer before. We're not worried about 1.5 degrees. One point five degrees would be beneficial to the planet and to human society.

Thirdly, the CSIRO cited papers that do not show the rate of temperature rise is unprecedented. When they couldn't prove that the temperature was unprecedented, they said the rate of temperature rise is. We've gone 26 years without any increase in temperature—just normal cycles.

Fourthly, the CSIRO relies not on science, on data, but on unvalidated models giving erroneous projections, the same as the IPCC that Senator Gallagher was referring to. The CSIRO—and this is the clincher—have never quantified any specific impact from human carbon dioxide on climate. They have never quantified it. They can't tell us what our carbon dioxide will do. But we've blown on our power bills a staggering $13 billion a year in additional costs, on subsidies, for climate change and so-called renewables. That is $1,300 per household. That is what is staggering. That is the catastrophe that's looming in this country because of the gutless Liberal-Nationals, the dishonest Labor Party and the insane Greens. That's the crisis we're facing.

4:26 pm

Photo of Ben SmallBen Small (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I note colleagues like Senator McMahon who have raised in this place today the unlawful protests and desecration of our national parliament by criminals earlier today. I also note the shamefully vocal defence of those criminals mounted by the Greens in this very chamber. In fact, it almost leads me to channel Peter Costello in asking: 'How do the Greens sleep while their prams are burning?' This is a government that can walk and chew gum at the same time. Not only are we taking meaningful action on the very real challenge of emissions reduction—which I'll get to in time—but we've also undertaken very significant reforms, important reforms, to the Australian charities and not-for-profit sector to ensure that no organisation that hides behind the tax deductions and the legitimacy of the charitable status afforded to it undertakes and resources the sorts of profoundly illegal and offensive behaviour that those Greens over there support in this place today.

We've also heard criticism from the Labor Party today. Somehow, achieving emissions reductions in real terms—such that our emissions today are lower than they were in 1990—achieving emissions reductions of 20 per cent on 2005 levels and beating Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa in achieving emissions reductions since 2005 aren't enough for them. It would seem that the only things they're looking for are job-destroying taxes, blank cheques and meaningless international commitments. Well, this is a government that won't stand for that. We stand for ambitious action on climate change, but only where it can be met and supported by a clear plan, a costed plan and one that supports Australian jobs. That's why the Morrison government stands proudly behind its technology road map that supports a lower-carbon-intensity future, not only for the Australian economy but also for the rest of the world.

The reality is that climate change and emissions reduction are a global problem. The developing world accounts for more than two-thirds of carbon emissions, and China alone accounts for more emissions than all of the OECD economies combined. That is to say that reducing Australia's 1.1 per cent contribution to global emissions can't, of itself, solve this problem. But we have a very legitimate place at the global table when these matters are discussed, because of our impressive track record of actual emissions reductions and because of our ambition to reach net zero as soon as possible and preferably by 2050.

That is a powerful message and one that resonates with the Australian people—the Australian people who enjoy jobs in the resources sector, who enjoy jobs in advanced manufacturing and who see opportunities that loom on the horizon as this government makes investments in things like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, electric vehicle infrastructure and heavy vehicle efficiencies, which those opposite joined up with the Greens to vote against. Just six weeks ago in this very chamber, those opposite voted against a $192.5 million investment in renewable technologies. That exposes the hypocrisy and the baseless lies that are trotted out each day. They contrast most starkly with the actions of a government that has achieved not only real emissions reduction but such a significant level of emissions reduction that we stand proudly at the forefront of the global effort on this issue.

4:30 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

For anyone who takes the time to look at the IPCC report released yesterday, it is genuinely concerning reading. In some respects it simply repeats things that we have known for some time—that we do face an extremely big challenge around climate change—but it is brought into stark relief when you look at the data and the evidence that that report presents. In particular, the evidence in this report regarding the likely impact of climate change on our regions makes for very stark reading.

Even if you just look at what it has to say about northern Australia, one of the regions, anyone who cares about the future of northern Australia should really have pause for thought and should really be committing themselves to taking action. I will note just a couple of things that the report has to say about northern Australia. It observes that northern Australia has already seen a rise in annual rainfall and heavy rain events and that the region will face heavier rainfall in future. The report states:

Heavy rainfall and river floods are projected to increase in Australia in the future.

It has similar things to say about sea levels, coastal flooding, seashore erosion, bushfires and cyclones as well.

It is very clear from this report that it is our regions in particular which will bear the brunt of our failure collectively as a nation to take action on climate change. Every LNP politician who likes to come in here and bang on about how much they care about the regions is actually betraying the regions. They are betraying regional Australians through their continued refusal to take action on climate change. When we see bushfires, they don't happen in the Sydney CBD and, when we see cyclones, they don't happen in the Melbourne CBD—they don't happen on Collins Street; they happen in regional Australia. Bushfires, cyclones and floods overwhelmingly happen in regional Australia. It's our regions that are on the front line when it comes to the effects of climate change, and it is our regions who are being so grossly let down by a government that pretends to be on their side.

What is the government doing to protect our regions from climate change? Well, the answer, as with so many other things, is nothing. This is a government, this is a Prime Minister, that never takes responsibility whether it be for COVID, whether it be for bushfires through the black summer or whether it be now, when we face this big climate change challenge. It's a government that is always slow to act. We saw the Prime Minister ignore repeatedly warnings and requests for meetings from fire chiefs before the black summer bushfires. All they wanted to do was warn him about the risks and encourage him to take action. He ignored them and refused to meet them, and we saw the devastating effects afterwards from this Prime Minister failing to take responsibility, failing to lead the nation and being so slow to act. This government's ongoing ignorance of the risk of climate change and ongoing refusal to take action on climate change are literally putting Australians at risk, especially in regional Australia. At the same time, the government's refusal to take action on climate change is denying regional Australians opportunities—because there are opportunities that come for our regions if we take serious action on climate change.

We are already seeing businesses around regional Australia come to grips with the challenge, adjust and, in fact, make money and create jobs out of this. Not that long ago I was at the Sun Metals Zinc Refinery in Townsville, one of the biggest energy users in Queensland, which is already progressively moving its power sources to solar and is on track to convert to carbon-neutral power in the next couple of decades. This is happening now. Companies are creating jobs in regional Australia by making this adjustment now. It's why groups like the National Farmers Federation are on board with net zero emissions. It's why Rio Tinto, BHP, Santos, Origin and every big energy producer and consumer in the country is on board. The only group that isn't on board is this government. This government, because it doesn't take action on climate change, is chasing jobs out of regional Australia and into other countries' arms. I want to see these jobs created in places like Gladstone. I want to see them created in Rocky, Townsville, Darwin and Cairns. I don't want to see them created overseas. But we need a government that is prepared to take action on climate change and grasp this opportunity.

4:35 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] It's a 'code red for humanity'. That's what the United Nations has called the IPCC's latest warning on climate. The world is heating faster. We're closer than ever to catastrophic change, and, once we hit the tipping point, the climate dominoes will fall, threatening our very existence. The new IPCC report is our starkest warning yet, but the Prime Minister's lack of action on the climate emergency heralds a death sentence for our lands, our forests, our rivers, our oceans and our animals. There is literally not a second left to waste. It's not too late. If we heed the warning and take urgent action, we can still avoid the worst impacts.

The report does make for grim reading, though. It warns that catastrophic floods and fires we are already living through will become the norm, heavy rainfall and river floods are projected to worsen across Australasia, and the intensity, frequency and duration of bushfires will increase throughout Australia. Experts say that Australia needs to reduce its emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 to avoid irreversible climate change. So, at this time of climate collapse, where are Mr Morrison and his government? They are busily fudging numbers and misleading people about our emissions. They are lobbying to override scientists at UNESCO who recommend the Great Barrier Reef be listed as endangered. They are doing dirty deals to dig up more dirty coal and gas with public money. You are the criminals, not the activists trying to save the planet and pushing you to take responsibility.

And while the Liberals are burning through Australia's carbon budget at the risk of catastrophic climate damage, Labor is giving up on the climate action needed and is letting them off the hook. The alarm bells are ringing, yet both major parties have decided to look away. They've sold out to their pals and donors in the fossil fuel industry. What a victory for the coal, oil and gas corporations in their race to stockpile profits while the planet burns! Being slaves to the coal barons is turning all our futures into ash. Millions of lives depend on our response to the climate crisis. Generations across the world will be deprived of the opportunity to live a dignified life if we don't act. You are stealing their future from right in front of their eyes, and they will have to live with the wretched reality of your inaction.

Morrison and co are perpetrating an intergenerational theft so enormous that it wouldn't be believable were we not witnessing it with our very own eyes. If there's no action, the report warns, we will hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2030. Our forests will burn, sea levels will rise, rivers will dry up and also flood, and our wildlife will suffer. Who has forgotten our last summer when deadly and tragic bushfires in our own backyard ravaged our forests and wildlife and consumed lives? These climate disasters will only intensify as the earth continues to heat up.

I can barely contain my anger when I say that we are sick of you, Mr Morrison. We are sick of your drivel. We are sick of your inaction. Do something, Prime Minister—literally anything—to turn back the clock on your criminal inaction. But you won't, so you and your lot need to be kicked out. Having the Greens in shared power is the only way we'll get emergency action on the climate crisis.

4:39 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Now, theirs is a party that clings to the idea of globalisation, with open borders or no borders at all—just opening up all the countries across the world, or one world, or whatever it is that you believe, out on the fringes. They love to say that Australia should open up to whoever wants to come, whenever they want to come, with no need to embrace our Australian culture—in fact, they openly and actively talk Australians down. But, when it comes to climate change and the discussion around that, Australia can do it all and there's no need for any global response or participation by any other nation. There's no need for the rest of the world to participate at all! So they sit idly by—and perhaps it's because they've been superglued to something!—as their ideologically aligned China continues to build more and more coal-fired power stations. But perhaps Communist emissions don't count when it comes to this lot! I just don't see what other reason there could be.

Here's the thing, though. I'll let you in on a little secret. If we, as a globe, are going to tackle global emissions, it needs to be a global effort. I know that sounds crazy and way out there and just a little bit too much for you all to handle, but half of the G20 member nations actually increased their emissions whilst Australia's fell faster than those of Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Korea or the United States. Yet, here we are, as you can contribute hot air, and pretty much that's it, to this current conversation.

But you're well and truly keeping the current Leader of the Opposition company, as those opposite abandon their 2030 target and so, in effect, walk away from the Paris Agreement. When asked about this, all the current Leader of the Opposition could muster—and I do hope that I do this justice—was: 'Well, what we do is, in government, of course, what we're doing is that we're encouraging the current government.' I mean, um, thanks—I think! It seems to be hot air, indecision, paralysis and the beating of the leadership drum. I guess that, in part, could explain why, just last week, those opposite voted against the Technology Investment Roadmap. They voted against technology, because we know that, for those opposite, it's purely about taxes and nothing else.

Not for us, on this side of the chamber; we're here for technology. We're looking to the future—investing in innovation; investing in our regions. I've personally been thrilled to see the $20 billion that's been invested by the Morrison government across the country up to 2030, and this $20 billion over the next decade will drive $80 billion of total public and private investment over the decade. This investment will create around 160,000 new jobs. But yes, sure—you guys over on the other side, you just keep on voting against those jobs! And keep on voting against the jobs of those workers in the Hunter region, as you walk away from the miners, but, on top of that, walk away from the energy hub that the Hunter region is becoming—all as you continue to march to the drum of the inner city latte left. Not us, on this side; we are looking at technology, not taxes; not destroying jobs or imposing taxes and new costs on households, businesses or industries.

In fact, in the Hunter, we have organisations like Batt Mobile and Energy Renaissance, as the region moves towards becoming a hydrogen hub, with partnerships between industry and the University of Newcastle. So I thought I might take the time to explain to you what some of this investment looks like and what some of this innovation looks like, because I'm not quite sure the intellectual fortitude and the depth of understanding exist for you to understand how some of these things look.

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! Senator Hughes, could you make your remarks through the chair and cease using the word 'you'? Thank you.

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Chair. I apologise. I will just explain a few things around some of the innovations that we have invested in. We all know that Australia's resources sector is world class. And through the Morrison government's $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative we're actually helping to unlock enormous potential by providing targeted supports for projects that would deliver big rewards for local economies, not only creating more jobs but also generating export opportunities. In July we announced a grant of $4½ million for Batt Mobile Equipment in the Hunter to build heavy battery electric vehicles for underground hard-rock mines. This will deliver Australia's first commercially operationally viable alternative to a diesel fleet. It will catalyse the electrification of global hard-rock mines and deliver emissions reduction as well as safety and productivity outcomes.

One of my favourite organisations that's showing itself to be so innovative throughout the Hunter region is a company called Energy Renaissance. They've been working some great partnerships with the CSIRO, amongst others. They're demonstrating that here in Australia we have all the right skills, natural resources and expertise, and an abundance of solar energy, to create batteries and a renewables manufacturing hub. We know that the economic impact of COVID has created a greater urgency to build industries, create jobs and accelerate our economic recovery, and Energy Renaissance has seen this opportunity for battery manufacturing to take the lead in this. They're building an exciting future where the world is powered by clean, stored energy everywhere, and they're building it right here in Australia.

Back in 2017 Energy Renaissance announced that they would develop Australia's first advanced lithium iron battery manufacturing facility, with funding from private investors and their foundation customers. They're continuing to work with the CSIRO and technology partner Cadenza Innovation as they ramp up their capabilities and capacity to manufacture batteries in Australia that are safe, affordable and optimised to perform in hot climates. The company's supercell and superstorage family of products are designed to perform in hot climates and to be used to power infrastructure, buildings, businesses and homes in both stationary and transport applications. I was absolutely thrilled to visit the site twice this year, including turning the first sod of what will be the lithium iron battery manufacturing centre. This scale and the anticipated market will see their export opportunities grow to an estimated contribution of around $3 billion per annum once our battery market is up and exporting across the world.

Hydrogen hubs are something else the Morrison government is focused on. For those who don't understand, hydrogen is actually a zero-emissions gas. Yet when we wanted to invest in the technology road map and we wanted to look at technology, not taxes, those opposite were more upset about hydrogen, I think, than they were about coal. I just don't understand what's wrong with you people. We know you don't like nuclear and won't put it back on the table at all—

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Hughes, can I just remind you about the inappropriate use of the word 'you' in that context. Make your remarks to the chair.

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Those opposite aren't very focused on looking at actual zero-emissions forms of technology, including things like nuclear. The ideological opposition of those opposite is longstanding—it's nice to see that something in their value proposition is longstanding. There is a continued opposition to hydrogen hubs and net-zero-emissions gas, an opportunity for the regions to develop jobs where we have plenty of natural resources. In fact, the great thing about hydrogen is that it can actually contribute to our waste reduction. There's another company up in the Hunter that is looking to burn excess timber products—waste timber—and create a hydrogen hub and generate more and more energy for that region. It's nice to think that from those opposite we at least have one member, the member for Hunter—Mr Fitzgibbon, out there on his own. He must be just thrilled, listening to Senator Faruqi talking about a shared power arrangement. I can't wait to catch up with the member for Hunter for that one! I might have to expedite that membership form to him sooner rather than later. I think he's the only one opposite who still understands that mining has a future in this country. (Time expired)

4:49 pm

Photo of Tony SheldonTony Sheldon (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] The Sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is very clear. It's clear about the impact that years of Liberal-National government inaction on climate policy is having on Australia.

According to the IPCC, Australia has already warmed by 1.4 degrees Celsius since 1910. Heat extremes have increased and cold extremes have decreased, and these trends are projected to continue. The frequency of extreme fire weather days has increased and the fire season has become longer in many, many locations around this country and around the world. The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather events are projected to increase throughout Australia. And, of course, we're already seeing the consequences of inaction on climate. We lived through the black summer bushfires, which ravaged so much of New South Wales and other parts of Australia. Months before the black summer bushfires, a group of 23 former fire chiefs and other emergency services leaders tried to meet with the Prime Minister to raise their concerns. Mr Morrison refused to meet with them. Then, as Australia burned, Mr Morrison went on holiday to Hawaii. As the bushfires continued to ravage Australia, he was finally forced to cut his holiday short. When he did return, he griped that he 'doesn't hold a hose, mate'. The verdict is in. The failure of the Morrison government and the Liberal-National governments before it to take any action have condemned Australia to future bushfire seasons like the 'black summer'.

It's a great shame because, as the world moves rapidly towards renewable energy, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia to jump ahead of the pack. Australia's abundant natural resources—wind, solar, hydrogen and gas—represent an incredible additional export opportunity for the Australian economy. A federal government which actually backs our local energy sector with investment and policy certainty could create thousands of good-paying jobs, while making power cheaper for homes and businesses alike. Instead, we have the absurd situation, as the Australian Workers Union has highlighted, where Australians are paying more for our own gas than we charge customers overseas. This is the energy policy legacy of the Morrison government.

Australia needs a government that gives the energy sector the policy certainty to invest. After eight years of Liberal government, we still don't know what their 2050 target is. Every state and territory government, Labor and Liberal alike, and all leading businesses, industry and agriculture groups are united in committing to net zero by at least 2050. The only major organisation left in Australia opposing this position is the Morrison government. Without a target, the Morrison government does not have a plan. It is just floundering around. They don't have any answers for coalmining workers, either. The Morrison government dares to pretend that it's looking out for them while it comes to Canberra to pass legislation to support labour hire firms that are driving down the pay and conditions of mine workers. And the Morrison government spends $300,000 supporting WorkPac in the High Court in a case against one of their exploited casual employees. The truth is that the Morrison government is not on the side of mine workers; Mr Morrison and the rest of this sorry government are only here to represent themselves.

The truth is that the world's climate emergency is Australia's job opportunity. Renewables jobs are important to us. It's important to us to make sure that they work, because, quite clearly, we have an opportunity to turn around and engage nearly 27,000 extra workers—and an expected 45,000 by the year 2035—yet the Liberal-National government has failed to give rights to those workers. One of the reports talks about sharing the benefits with workers. We're not getting lower energy prices, and workers aren't getting the benefit. The report talks about the fact that these jobs are insecure jobs because of the way that they're arranged under this government. (Time expired)

4:55 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Hearing the latest climate report and then listening to the debate that followed in this chamber today—the avalanche of nonsense; the insulting, degrading bilge that has been spewed into this place for the last day—leaves me frustrated and leaves me furious, quite frankly. This report is crystal clear. It may be inconvenient to the major parties in this place, who are funded by the perpetrators of the climate crisis. It may be inconvenient to face the reality that the people who fund your campaign are destroying our planet. It may be inconvenient that the question before the Labor and Liberal parties is whether they value the donations which drive their campaigns more than they value the lives and futures of the young people of this nation. Nevertheless, that is the truth laid bare by this report.

This report is a signpost at a crossroads, presenting us with a clear choice. It shows us very clearly that the climate crisis which we are now enduring is a creation of politics—a political creation with a political solution. The choice is to invest in renewable energy, keep coal in the ground, keep gas in the ground, create jobs in the transition to renewables or to continue doing what you have doing now: selling out our future in favour of donations from the gas giants—from the Woodsides, the Gina Rineharts and the Twiggy Forrests. Put them first, value their profits and you will continue to sell young people down the river, destroying our future and condemning us to battle a climate apocalypse. It is our future as a generation that is on the line, and only the Greens are willing to advocate the reduction in emissions necessary to keep our planet safe and to guarantee a safe future for our generation, as young people.

To have such a vital report as this greeted by such hollow nonsense is a disgrace and a shame on this parliament, which should be taking swift and urgent action to address the climate crisis that is now our lived reality. The inability to do that is why so many young people are so deeply frustrated with Australian politics. It is why so many of us are absolutely disgusted with and turned off the major parties. It is why so many of us are looking for alternatives. It is why, I'm proud to say, so many of us are supporting the Greens and why so many of us will be working together in the lead-up to the next election to ensure that the Greens are returned to this place with more members among us to deliver for the community the climate action which is so urgently demanded and needed.

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Stoker, a point of order?

Photo of Amanda StokerAmanda Stoker (Queensland, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Madam Acting Deputy President, in the interest of consistency with rulings made earlier in the day, could you please indicate whether you will be directing Senator Steele-John to comply with the standing orders, in relation to refraining from putting posters and slogans into what is, in effect, the chamber, when he is appearing via video link?

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Steele-John, to be consistent with the ruling that was made earlier today, when you're called on for your next contribution to the Senate, you need to ensure that there are no signs visible other than signs that you would be able to have in the Senate.

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry, Acting Deputy President, could I just get some clarity on that? My understanding was that you weren't allowed to have, say, Labor or Liberal or those kinds of signs. But, plainly, we've just got the 'disabled and proud' thing. It's not a—

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

To be consistent with the ruling that was made earlier today, I would think that the sign that's there would not be a sign that would be allowed to be brought into the Senate, but I'm happy to ask the President to give you a further ruling if you would wish.

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I would wish that, only because, as you can see there, it just says 'disabled and proud'.

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, I'll refer it to the President for you.

5:02 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

We cannot separate climate justice from First Nations justice. Before I begin, I want to thank my colleague Senator Waters for bringing this important public urgency matter to this place and for her staunch calls for climate action this morning.

Last year, we watched this country burn as we experienced one of the worst bushfire seasons in our recorded history. The sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that First Nations knowledge is a vital tool in the struggle for climate justice. First Nations people have cared for and protected our lands and waters, including our totems, for tens of thousands of years, but, due to disregard for traditional forms of land management, we are seeing a breakdown of traditional forms of land preservation. Recent breakdowns of ecological systems and harms to biodiversity have been linked to a disregard for traditional forms of land management and their displacement by imported and harmful practices, like when the colonisers came over on the boats and destroyed everything they touched.

The IPCC report acknowledges the contributions of First Nations people and First Nations scientists in helping record historical as well as current observations of a changing climate. This First Nations science enables climate scientists to paint a whole picture and understand holistically what we're doing to the planet. We know that First Nations land management reduces the risk of catastrophic fire damage. We know that our land protectors out there play a crucial role in reducing the risk of wildfires and mitigating shifts in the fire season. We need to lead with what we know is most effective. We must put First Nations knowledge at the forefront of our climate action and policy to safeguard our country and the people that call this place home.

Now is the time to build a better normal out of this crisis. Together we can change politics in this country. We can kick the Liberals out and put the Greens in the balance of power. Greens in the balance of power means that there are enough Greens in parliament that the government needs to consult with to make laws. That way we can make laws that are good for people and our country, because we know that 'Lib' and 'Lab' are pretty much the same these days, particularly when it comes to climate. With the balance of power, the Greens will push the next government to go harder and faster on climate change. The last time the Greens and Labor were in shared power, we passed laws to bring down pollution.

Coal and gas are causing the greatest damage to people, and we know that the Liberals and the Labor Party continue to take those dirty donations from the oil and gas companies. That's why they won't talk about their target, and that's why they're all talk and no action. We can continue to enjoy our lives in harmony, with plenty of energy from clean sources like sun and wind, or we can become a climate denier, a climate criminal, or the climate terrorists that the previous senator spoke about— (Time expired)

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the urgency motion be agreed to.