Friday, 10 November 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to Minister Wong. Minister, the Pacific nations are on the front line of the climate crisis, and they will be overwhelmed by the resulting storms, floods and rapid collapse of access to food and water. Hundreds of thousands of Pacific people will be displaced by climate disasters, or they will die. And the Labor government has refused to stop the extraction and expansion of fossil fuels. Leaders, former leaders and people across the Pacific have made it clear that Labor needs to stop pushing for more coal and gas, and yet the Prime Minister has fronted up to the Pacific Islands Forum with more coal and gas. No amount of money to the Pacific will repair the damage of the Australian Labor government's climate bombs like Beetaloo, Pilliga-Narrabri and the Burrup hub. Will the government commit to no more coal and gas projects?
Senator Faruqi, what I would say to you is that in the time since we've come to government we have done an enormous amount to engage with and listen to the Pacific family and our Pacific neighbours. I have visited every member of the Pacific Islands Forum, a number more than once. The Prime Minister has made it a priority to ensure he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting—I have to say, despite criticism from those opposite—because we understand our responsibility as a member of the Pacific family and our obligation to work with them on climate and on many other issues.
It is the case that climate change is the No. 1 national security priority. But what I would say to you is that it's an unfortunate domestic political angle to suggest that somehow we go to the Pacific Islands Forum with anything less than an understanding of what is being sought; an understanding of how important climate change is to us but also, particularly, to the Pacific island nations, who are vulnerable; and an understanding of what we as a government have to do to transition the Australian economy. That's what we have to do. You can shake your head, but unfortunately there is no switch that transforms a largely fossil fuel dependent—
I understand you want to make a political point from the end of the chamber, but there is no switch that makes a transition to renewable energy. We have to do the hard yards, and we'd like you to join us, in actually transitioning. But you're not interested in joining us; you're interested in differentiating. We all in here understand what you are doing. What we will do is transition our economy. (Time expired)
Australia wants to host the UN climate conference in 2026 in partnership with the Pacific. This requires Australia to be a genuine partner to the Pacific, which should mean an immediate stop to the expansion of coal and gas, which are the things putting the lives, livelihoods and homes of our Pacific neighbours are risk. Anything less is greenwashing and hypocrisy. How can the Labor government bid to host COP unless it commits to abandoning its plans to expand fossil fuels?
I do find it interesting that Senator Faruqi's position appears to be that unless we agree with her we're hypocrites. That appears to be it: unless we agree with you, we're hypocrites.
You know, you're not the ultimate arbiter of the truth, Senator Faruqi. That is the reality.
I'm happy to withdraw it if you think it causes offence, but I make the point that the Greens political party seem to believe that if people don't agree with them somehow that makes the people who don't agree with them hypocrites or insincere. We are not. We are sincere, but, unlike you, we recognise that it's not just a motion in the Senate or a speech; it's the hard yards of transforming an economy which has been fossil fuel dependent—and it has. We have benefited from that, but we now have to change, and that is not easy.
As I have explained to the many colleagues I have met with over the Pacific, we know the change that we have to require, and we are committed to it. We are committed to it and we are genuine in it. (Time expired)
FARUQI () (): The Global North's unfettered consumption of resources and its addiction to fossil fuels have caused immense damage to the Global South.
It's been a year since the Loss and Damage Fund was agreed to by countries, including Australia, yet Labor has not committed any contribution to the Loss and Damage Fund. The climate infrastructure partnership announced today has nothing to do with it. When will the government make a commitment in terms of what it will contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund?
Because there was quite a preamble there—a very interesting preamble in terms of some of the language used—I would make the point that I have made for years on this issue, which is: as long as people are pointing their finger at other countries rather than taking action themselves, and as long as the climate negotiations bifurcate around that or shatter around that, then we will not get what humanity needs. It is the case that there are many countries who have benefited greatly from their reliance on fossil fuel. Australia is one of them, and we have contributed to what we have now. We also know, going forward, that there are a great many developing countries who are, if not the largest, then amongst the largest emitters. In other words, we all need to do something, rather than blame each other, and that is the constructive approach we will take to the climate negotiations and to the work we're doing with Pacific partners.
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Resources, Senator Farrell. What actions is the Albanese government taking to ensure a strong Australian resources sector, and how is the government ensuring Australia's energy security and reliability by supporting essential decarbonisation efforts?
Thanks, Senator Sterle. You come from a great resources state, and I know you've got a great interest in this sector. Today the West Australian has reported that—the West Australian, of course, is a Western Australian newspaper and a fine newspaper—'billions of dollars of investment in WA's gas industry are at risk as the Senate holds up legislation'. These actions by the Liberals and the Nationals are nothing short of astonishing. Faced with the choice of supporting investment certainty in carbon capture and storage, the Liberals and the Nationals chose to side with the Greens.
The International Energy Agency, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Climate Change Authority have all said that carbon capture and storage will play an important role in helping achieve net zero. We believe in climate action, but the Liberals and the Nationals continue to bury their heads in the sand. Like every aspect of energy policy, those opposite comprehensively fail on the issue of emissions reduction. So what do those opposite believe? Do they support regulatory certainty, or do they not? Do they want affordable and reliable energy, or don't they? No. The answer is no. The actions of those opposite are putting Australian projects at risk. This means they are putting Australian jobs at risk. The Liberals and the Nationals talk about investment, but they don't believe in it. (Time expired)
I thank Senator Sterle for his first supplementary question. This government has been working diligently with industry and our key trading partners to rapidly decarbonise LNG supply chains. There are deep pools of capital available in Korea, Japan and elsewhere with a strong appetite to invest in carbon capture and storage projects right across Australia, even in your home state. This is why it beggars belief that those opposite, when faced with the choice, refuse to act. The Liberals and the Nationals have said that our efforts to promote regulatory certainty for carbon capture and storage are vitally important, but they fail to act. So what do you actually believe?
I can see that their heads are down, except for Senator Cadell. The rest of them have heads down because they are ashamed of the position that they are adopting. We have a suite of regulatory and legislative reforms—
We have a suite of regulatory and legislative reforms that are helping to drive investment and regulatory certainty across the sector. We want to ensure our regulations and our legislation are fit for purpose and best practice for decarbonising our economy. The Liberals and the Nationals have a clear choice to make: do they want serious investment to flow into this country to support carbon capture and storage or do they not? I would have thought our trading relationships with Korea and Japan were simply too important to be playing— (Time expired)