Monday, 28 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; In Committee
I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 1770:
(1) Page 6 (after line 30), at the end of Part 2, add:
No amount appropriated by this Act is to be spent on equity investment for the development of the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct in the Northern Territory, including common use marine infrastructure and regional logistic hubs, as described on page 163 of Budget Paper No. 2 2022-23, which was tabled in both Houses of the Parliament on 25 October 2022.
This was a very clear opportunity for this government to do the right thing by Australians. As I said in my speech, this is their first budget—six months into their first term, after being in opposition for nearly a decade, listening to the coalition hand out money left, right and centre to their mates and to big business and fossil fuel companies to shore up their donations for every election, to make sure that that continued. The Australian public thought that at this last election they had an opportunity to put a government in place that would look after them, that would see public money going to public services for their benefit of Australians, not for public money to be propping up fossil fuel projects when the world is saying, 'Do not open up any more coal or gas projects.'
This government are deaf to that. They are continuing not to listen to the science, not to listen to the experts, not to listen to anybody and to continue the legacy of those opposite, who gave out all the money to start with. They just came into government in May, sailed in and continued that legacy, continued to give out the public's money to these fossil fuel companies and then take the language off their websites so no-one will question that—greenwash the language to continue the dirty fossil fuel industry that is continuing to thrive when their own cabinet minister says that the gluttony of greed it what's driving the gas prices in this country; that is what's happening.
So, we've got the good-cop bad-cop scenario happening over here at Labor. One cabinet minister says one thing and another says a different thing. They say, 'We want net zero.' Well, when? When are you going to transition this industry? When are you going to put renewable infrastructure in place? You have an opportunity to do that by not continuing to expand fossil fuel projects in this country, and Middle Arm is the prime example of that.
We have an opportunity today to vote for the Australian people, who want to see their money used in the right way. They want to hold Labor to account. That's what we're doing here on the crossbench: making sure that those folks watching out there understand the amount of money that is being provided in this equity fund to Santos and other companies who had record profits in the first quarter of this year, and government is still giving them our money.
The opposition will not be supporting this amendment. This is typical of the Australian Greens. In a budget delivered by Labor that shows that gas prices and energy prices will rise, the Greens want to reduce the supply of gas. The Greens talked about doing the right things by Australians. Well, the right thing to do to stand by Australians is to make sure they have affordable electricity in 2023 going onwards. Stopping the development of gas supply in this country will mean that electricity and power prices will go up. The Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct is a resource-rich area that can deliver additional energy and minerals through a new gas reserve as well as critical mineral reserves, including copper and lithium, which are necessary to build the batteries that will assist in the supply of renewable energy. It will also have optimal carbon dioxide emissions opportunities. That is what the project is about. This is a project that was pushed by the former coalition government. It is an idea that was pushed by the ministers and by the CLP in the Northern Territory. It is something that will benefit all of Australia.
So, it is disappointing that the Greens are so detached from reality that they're attempting to torpedo a project that presents an opportunity to create jobs and will assist in securing Australia's energy supply into the future. We will not be supporting this amendment.
The government will provide $1.9 billion in planned equity to support the development of the Middle Arm precinct. We will do that together with regional logistics hubs along key transport lists. This is not a subsidy for fossil fuels; this is serious commitment to industrial infrastructure in that region.
Now, the difference between us and the Greens political party on these questions is that what the government sets out to do is to reduce emissions, consistent with the targets that we've set—the targets that we took to the election, the targets that we have a mandate to introduce, the targets that were supported by the most sophisticated economic modelling done by an opposition party coming into government. Now, what we intend to do is, yes, to reduce emissions and, yes, to put downward pressure on the price of power, but the thing that's missing from the Greens party's position here—it's one of the key areas of difference—is, of course, that we intend to press on with the industrial diversification of the Australian economy. That means that more blue collared jobs in regional areas. That means more industrial diversification.
The CHAIR: Senator Cox, you can repechage when I give you the call.
That means more factories, more manufacturing. That means investing in the technologies and the industrial infrastructure that will mean we will have the capacity to export green hydrogen and have the capacity to feed into global supply chains.
You can't have it both ways. What we intend to do is to invest in this kind of infrastructure that supports that kind of industrial development. Now, I know some people don't like industrial development. They don't like factories. They don't like manufacturing. But this government is determined to press on with this, and on that basis, but also on the basis that I outlined in the summing up speech at the end of the second reading debate, I urge the Senate to reject the amendment.
The CHAIR: Senator Cox, do you want the call?
It's not even worth it.
T he CHAIR: Does any other honourable senator wish to make a contribution? I'm intending to put the question, so, if any honourable senator wishes to make a contribution, please do so now. As no honourable senator has indicated that they wish to make a contribution, I will put the question. The question before the committee is that Australian Greens amendment (1) standing in the name of Senator Cox on sheet 1770 be agreed to.
As a servant to the people of Queensland—the people who make up our amazing Queensland community—and Australia, I speak to Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023 and make these comments and ask a few questions. After six months in power, this government has earned a solid C for chaotic. Bills are being brought forward, then dropped, and then they're back. Amendments are flying around faster than Australian cash at a G20 meeting. Sitting hours seem to be nothing more than a mission statement. This is amateur hour.
Queenslanders have every right to ask: 'What good is it having a Labor prime minister and a Labor premier, in Annastacia Palaszczuk, when the Premier allows the Treasurer to take money from Queensland and use it to buy votes in Victoria? Now that Dan Andrews has been re-elected, can I ask the Treasurer for Queensland's money back, please? Can Queensland have the $5 billion funding back for Hells Gate Dam, the $500 million funding for Urannah Dam, the funding for Hughenden agricultural area and the $120 million for Emu Swamp Dam so that our wonderful farmers in Queensland can have the water they need to grow food and fibre, and feed and clothe the world? Seriously, what has this government got against farmers, against people wearing natural fabrics and eating good, natural, healthy, clean food? Really! That doesn't pass the pub test. When growing food to feed the hungry is a noble occupation, this government is treating farmers like a problem. Ideology based city-centric policy is the problem. Farmers are not the problem.
Hells Gate Dam will secure Townsville's water supply and ensure the growing precincts of Abbot Point and Moranbah will have the water they need to make all that beautiful steel to build the world over the next 30 years. Can Queensland have the $800 million back for the Rockhampton Ring Road? Land and equipment was purchased for this project, and people were buying houses to work in Rockhampton on this Ring Road project, and suddenly the rug got pulled out from under them.
Northern Queensland is a booming economic powerhouse. Constraining access to Rockhampton is both dangerous and hazardous. To put it simply, it's bloody-minded stupidity. Can Queensland please have the $800 million back for the Rockhampton Ring Road that was stolen and taken to sure up Dan Andrews election campaign? Minister, has this government done the sums on how much Queensland pays in taxes to the federal government, including in GST, and how much we're getting back? It does not seem to me like the people of Queensland are getting a fair go compared to other states, especially when Queensland is the lion's share of our national economy's number one export income earner—coal.
Bills agreed to.
Bills reported without amendments; report adopted.