Mastodon In Parliament: Climate Change questions, statements and COP27 | Climate Citizen --> Mastodon

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

In Parliament: Climate Change questions, statements and COP27

Image: Prime Minister Albanese answers a question on Loss and Damage asked by Leader of the Opposition peter Dutton

A few question on climate change being asked in the Commonwealth Parliament during Question time during the UN Climate Change conference COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

On November 7, Queensland Greens MP Ms Watson-Brown asked the Prime Minister about the bid to host the Climate Change Conference COP31 in 2026 and whether he would commit to not opening any of the 114 new coal and gas projects presently in the pipeline?

The Prime Minister failed to answer the question. 

This question was originally attributed at the Guardian Live page as Peter Dutton, leader of the opposition, asking the question.

On November 8 Peter Dutton (Leader of the Opposition) asked a question whether the Prime Minister would ‘rule out’ compensating other countries for the climate crisis. It should be noted Loss and Damage is an important issue at COP27.

The Prime Minister in his response recalled the joke that Peter Dutton made in 2015 about our island neighbours drowning and then described the diplomatic efforts taken since May in restoring the credibility of Australia in the Asia Pacific region on Foreign policy. 

Albanese failed to address that Australia is not funding its fair share of climate finance and is the only OECD country not to participate in multilateral climate finance funding through the Green Climate Fund, after former Prime Minister Morrison unilaterally withdrew Australia from this Fund in 2019. (See Guardian report)

Excerpts from Hansard

Hansard had 73 mentions of "climate" for 7 November (including ministerial titles), 32 mentions for 8 November, 64 mentions of climate for 9 November, 50 references 10 November. This is a selection of excerpts from Hansard daily proofs.

Dramatis Personae:
Peter Dutton, Liberal National Party, Leader of the Opposition (Dickson)
Anthony Albanese, Labor Party, Prime Minister (Grayndler)
Dr Michelle Ananada-Rajah, Labor Party (Higgins)
Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Australian Greens (Ryan)
Adam Bandt, Australian Greens, Leader of the Australian Greens (Melbourne)
Zali Steggall, Independant (Warringah)
Kylea Tink, Independant (North Sydney)
Louise Miller-Frost, Labor Party (Boothby)
Sally Sitou, Labor Party (Reid)
Chris Bowen, Labor Party,  Minister for Climate Change and Energy (McMahon)
Louise Miller-Frost, Labor Party (Boothby)
Dr Anne Aly, Labor Party, Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth (Cowan)
Brian Mitchell, Labor Party (Lyons)

10 November - Question on COP27

Ms STEGGALL (Warringah): My question is to the Prime Minister. COP27 is currently bringing together world leaders to address climate change. The planet has already warmed by 1.2 degrees, with escalating climate-induced disasters and costs crippling communities, yet current pledges—including your government's inadequate 43 per cent by 2030—have us on track for three degrees of warming. Will your government stop making the problem worse by funding and approving further fossil fuel projects?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:48): I thank the member for her question and for her genuine engagement on the issue of climate change since she has arrived in this parliament as the member for Warringah.

In the preamble to her question, the member pointed out what was happening at COP27 and spoke about the global effort, because, indeed, climate change does require a global effort. One of the things that has occurred already at COP27 is the previous chair of COP—the person who chaired the Glasgow conference and was the Minister for the Conference of the Parties, as part of the UK Conservative government—has welcomed Australia back as part of the global effort, as have all of the delegates at NATO, as did Prime Minister Johnson, Prime Minister Truss, President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, Prime Minister Modi.

The fact is that Australia has been welcomed back due to the fact that we changed, as one of our first acts, our nationally determined contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We did that with the commitment that we took to the election of 43 per cent reduction by 2030 as part of our commitment to have a pathway to net zero by 2050.

Australia has fallen behind from where it should be because we've had a decade of denial, a decade of delay. We didn't have any climate policy. And when the former government reluctantly adopted a target—not really, because they weren't prepared to legislate it—of net zero by 2050, there was no policy to go with it.

This government understands that we need to deal with energy policy, transport policy and housing policy. We need to make homes more efficient, we need to change the make-up of our transport network in accordance with what's happening around the world, and we need to move to the cheapest and cleanest form of new energy, which is renewables. We need to do that in partnership with the rest of the world, and I look forward in coming days to meeting with global leaders and talking about how we cooperate. I know in the lead-up to the G20, when I've spoken with people like Prime Minister Sunak of the UK, and in the past few days with the leaders of Vietnam, Thailand and other nations in our region, the first thing that they raised was climate change. I am optimistic that the world can move. I want Australia to be a part of that, and my government's commitment is to do just that.

10 November - Question on funding Climate activists

Mr FLETCHER (Bradfield—Manager of Opposition Business) (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. At a time when Australia urgently needs more gas supply, why has the government funded $9.8 million over four years to activists who oppose and stop new gas projects?

Mr BOWEN (McMahon—Minister for Climate Change and Energy) (14:25): We have not.

10 November Statements - Raise our Voices Australia

Dr ALY (Cowan—Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Youth) (10:28): I'd like to deliver speeches written by some young people in Cowan as part of the Raise Our Voice program. The first speech is by Liora Fletcher in response to the question: what should Australia's new parliament accomplish? I am actually very honoured to deliver this speech in this place on behalf of Liora. She says:

"As a 21-year-old woman, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak about topics I believe are important. Having said this, I am aware I am not the only one with visions of how I would like Australia's governing body to look and this is a very good thing.

Without the diversity of voices, the new Parliament cannot be truly representative of all Australians.

For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that the new Parliament enshrines the voices of First Nations peoples in the Constitution to enable an empowered voice in the social, economic and spiritual matters which directly affect them.

The Law Council of Australia describes this constitutionally enshrined voice as a manifestation of the right to self-determination, entitling people to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully.

This change would be a positive step towards Reconciliation, allowing a First Nations body to advise Federal Parliament on matters that disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including; Native Title, housing, heritage protection, employment and health. It makes sense for the people who have the best understanding of the challenges facing their families and communities to have a say in how to best address these.

It is important to note that we are currently facing a climate crisis and as recommended by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, consulting with Indigenous peoples can give rise to invaluable natural resource management strategies to mitigate climate disasters. There is no better time for cultural collaboration than now. An excellent example of this is Indigenous knowledges of cultural burn offs to prevent catastrophe during bushfire season. We have seen the consequences of not implementing these burn offs and knowledges too many times.

The Parliament should take action and pass legislation to hold a referendum and change the Constitution and ensure an enshrined First Nations voice which cannot be undone."

Thank you, Liora. I am proud to be able to read your words in parliament and to assure you that this government takes your voice seriously and takes the measures that you've suggested seriously. We will be taking this to a referendum. Liora, I look forward to meeting you and discussing these issues further.

10 November Statements - Australia: Floods

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (10:37): Like many others in this place, communities in my electorate have recently been dealing with severe weather, storms and flooding. Flooding occurred across the Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, Kentish, Break O'Day and Central Highlands local government municipalities and others. While the weather has eased over recent weeks, the impacts of the floods are ongoing as clean-up and repairs continue. I recently spent time in these communities, including with the Prime Minister, inspecting damage and discussing with communities ways in which the Albanese government can help get things back on track.

We know people need support and we will do everything in our power to help. The Prime Minister spoke in the last sitting in the House about his recent visits to flood-affected areas in Australia, including Deloraine. The Meander River flooded higher and more rapidly than ever before. The people of Deloraine this time had prior warning and, fortunately, through quick action and planning, no human life was lost and families were able to evacuate before waters rose. From my discussions with farmers and primary producers, livestock losses were minimal; though, of course, there was quite a lot of agricultural damage to seeds and new plantings.

Businesses and some houses in Deloraine were badly affected. Mick and the team at Highland Haulage were one of the worst-impacted businesses in the town, with floodwaters entering their warehouse and rising above the height of anyone standing in this place if we were on the ground floor. I spoke with Mick, and all he wants to talk about was how lucky he was compared to others—generous, community-minded, thinking of others before himself.

Pictures were shown nationwide of a storage container full of possessions of a family in Deloraine that had floated down the river, such was the strength of these floods. Unfortunately that family lost everything in the container, such was the water damage. The container itself was secured before it hit the bridge in Deloraine which connects the east and west of the town.

Across town at the footy oval the Deloraine Football Club was once again left to clean up after clubrooms were flooded for the third time in 11 years in what are supposedly 100-year floods. This tells us something, which is that climate change is real, the impacts are real and the increasing severity is real. I thank the Prime Minister for visiting the club with me on 19 October, where he heard firsthand the issues that they are facing and what is needed to protect the community from future flood events. I look forward to continuing to work with the club and the council on those plans. Still in the Meander Valley, in Meander and Hadspen, the Meander River and the South Esk River broke their banks, forcing the community to evacuate and do their best to protect property with sandbags and other measures.

(Excerpt is Partial )

10 November - BILLS on Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Reform

Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Reform (Closing the Hole in the Ozone Layer) Bill 2022
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment Bill 2022
Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment Bill 2022

Second Reading - Cognate debate.

Consideration resumed of the motion: That this bill be now read a second time.

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (16:21): Before I was rudely interrupted by question time and a so-called MPI, I was informing all of Australia about that great moment in history when politicians, governments and scientists all came together to address the problem of the ozone holes, which are now healing at the rate of one to three per cent a decade, where politicians listened to scientists and responded accordingly. By the 2030s, the hole in the Northern Hemisphere will have completely vanished, and the Southern Hemisphere hole should disappear by the 2060s. This is incredible news, but it's also frustrating to know that the same world with the same scientists has not been able to unite as effectively over climate change.

I'm telling this great story today because the success of the Montreal Protocol holds lessons for today's efforts to confront dangerous climate change. Vigorous leadership by Ronald Reagan, the actor; and Margaret Thatcher, a trained chemist, were crucial during the negotiations on the Montreal treaty. The protocol was designed to be flexible so that more ozone-depleting substances could be phased out by later amendments. Developing countries were also provided with incentives and institutional support to meet their compliance targets. I state that again, because there has been a little bit of controversy from those opposite about that idea of helping developing countries when it comes to dealing with a science problem.

But perhaps the most important lesson comes from the fact that the globe sees the need for action even when the science was not 100 per cent conclusive. Sean Davis, a climate scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reminds us: … we don't need absolute certainty to act. When Montreal was signed, we were less certain then of the risks from CFCs than we are now of the risks from greenhouse gas emissions.

The adoption of the Montreal Protocol was a turning point in environmental history. It also showed that, when science and political willpower join forces, the results can change the world today and deliver a better tomorrow for our children. You cannot have a better story of hope than that.

Australia has always been at the forefront of efforts to protect the ozone layer. Under the Hawke government, Australia had a strong program to protect the ozone layer and manage synthetic greenhouse gases stemming from the Montreal Protocol. It's an interesting point to note that, through protection of the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol has done more for climate protection than any other measures so far. Our nation's work to heal the ozone layer is also helping us meet the Albanese government's emissions target of 43 per cent by 2030 and to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement.

This package of legislation before the House is aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Program. Ever since the ozone crisis emerged, this has been one of our most important pieces of environmental policy. It regulates the manufacture, import, export, use and disposal of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases. I know that because I've got a sister who's an electrician, and even in country Queensland she has to deal with these gases appropriately when taking out refrigerators and air conditioners. This implements our international obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Australia has a strong program to protect the ozone layer and to manage synthetic greenhouse gases, and we need to keep this strong. After years—years!—of delay on climate policy and scientists being attacked by government ministers, and even by Prime Ministers, and after experiencing natural disasters in my own electorate and in electorates around Australia, all aggravated by global warming, Australians now, in 2022, want and demand real action. That's why one of the first pieces of legislation the Albanese government brought to this parliament was our legislation to increase Australia's climate ambition.

We are the 12th-largest economy in a world of around 200 countries—the 12th largest. We are the 55th-largest country by population. So if not us, who? How can we, as a global leader—the nation that was essential in forming the United Nations, led by Doc Evatt, a Labor leader—look poorer and smaller countries in the eye and say, 'You need to do more when it comes to responding to dangerous climate change,' if we don't do our bit? In fact, as a Labor member of parliament, I say we should be world leaders, and I'm from a party of government, not a poseur party that has protests as a political business model. You know those parties that have been around for decades, who harvest clicks and deliver absolutely nothing to their members? That is not the Labor way. That is not the way of a party of government.

These measures, which a Labor government has brought to the parliament, are another example of what we can practically do to protect our climate and meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets, and take all of Australia with us. Australia has an established innovative product scheme, which collects used refrigerants and turns their potent greenhouse gases into harmless salty water. As I mentioned, my sister the electrician deals with this process in country Queensland. All tradies understand it. These bills will make Australia's program even stronger.

The measures will reduce administrative burdens on businesses and make the legislation easier to understand, reducing the opportunities for unintentional non-compliance. It will also introduce measures to modernise and strengthen the enforcement powers. As the saying goes, you govern for all but you also need to have regulations for the few rogues out there that might not be doing the right thing. The ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gases bills will continue to provide protection for our environment and human health, and play a strong role in Australia's action on climate change.

It's not often that I stand in the parliament of Australia and thank people like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev all at the same time and say their environmental leadership is what helped save the planet. So Thatcher and Reagan, politicians not renowned for their left-wing activities—although it's fair to say Ronald Reagan was a trade union leader; he led the Screen Actors Guild for a while—stepped up, listened to the scientists before the science was settled and responded appropriately. So we do know that with the right leadership, with the right politicians, the world can do the right thing and Australia, as a significant player on the world stage, needs to do its bit. And in light of our leading role in the Pacific, we especially need to show our Pacific neighbours that we are a proud part of Oceania, that we will do what is right by our neighbours to make sure that a wealthy country like Australia is doing the right thing when it comes to ozone, when responding to dangerous climate change.

The ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse gas bills of 2022 are not spectacular pieces of legislation on one level, but they show what scientists and politicians can do when they work in concert. I commend the legislation to the House.

Debate interrupted.

9 November - Statements - Environmental Conservation

Ms TINK (North Sydney) (13:38): The United Nations General Assembly has called this the 'Decade on Ecosystem Restoration', and protecting our urban tree canopy offers a unique opportunity at the local level to contribute to this vital mission. Around the world, cities are working to protect, maintain and restore precious urban ecosystems, which are critical for mental health, biodiversity and sustainable development. Yet, concerningly, my electorate of North Sydney is losing many hundreds of mature trees as they are pushed aside to make way for large infrastructure projects with opaque to non-existent disconnected business cases.

From Lane Cove to Cammeray, North Sydney to Neutral Bay, people are sharing their sense of despair with me, literally pleading for something to be done at the national level. They've told me things like, 'My children know I can't drive past the oval anymore—I get too upset,' or, 'Please add me to your list of devastated North Sydney residents who are horrified at what is unfolding before them.' Heartbreakingly, they're also consistently asking me, 'Please, I beg you—do everything in your power to limit the number of trees being removed.'

We cannot hope to address the climate crisis without all levels of government working together with our communities to protect urban trees. At this stage, the current destruction is being driven by state policy. I encourage the federal government to play a greater role in overseeing and coordinating our response to this challenge on a national scale. This is a decade to restore, not destroy.

9 November Statements - Little Climate Heroes Playgroup

Ms MILLER-FROST (Boothby) (13:52): Last Sunday afternoon, I attended the Little Climate Heroes Playgroup organised by Australian Parents for Climate Action. There I was grilled by some very well-informed children who asked me questions about politics, about elections and about Canberra. They asked me how much paperwork was involved in being a local member, how to influence politicians and, particularly, how they can tell if politicians will actually do what they say they're going to do. They also told me what they cared about, and climate action was No. 1, but they also cared about fairness and a fair go for everyone. They showed me their community garden with their bumper crop of lettuce and strawberries, and they talked about what they're doing to make a difference in their community, like riding their bikes and growing their own food.

It was great to spend time with these kids, who are our future leaders. Their understanding and care for the environment, for the world around them and for the lives of others show that the world will be in good hands. Many thanks to Peter and Eleanor, Hamish and Rachel, Alpa and Conal, Rose and Thomas, Nathan and Jayden, Isla and Ninna, Albie and Fergus, Nola and Luca, Eddie, Leo and Matilda, and Rose and Alfie, and, of course, thanks to their parents for organising the event.

Australian Parents for Climate Action is a national group of parents who care about the future we are leaving for our children, and this is a great way to kick off their national month of action.

9 November - Questions on Climate Change

Ms SITOU (Reid) (14:12): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. How is the Albanese Labor government renewing Australia's international engagement on climate change and how has been the response?

Mr BOWEN (McMahon—Minister for Climate Change and Energy) (14:12): I thank the honourable member for her question and thank her for her leadership on climate issues. I very much enjoyed working with her on things like a community battery for her electorate and other things.

The honourable member knows we are acting domestically and we are acting in our region, and we are acting internationally to restore our nation's reputation as well. In this government, we understand that better climate policy is better foreign policy and is better economic policy as well. It's in our national interest. It's in our region, where our brothers and sisters in the Pacific are at the front line of the climate change crisis. They know how much is at stake, and we know how much is at stake as well.

For some small island developing states, climate related natural disasters have already cost them 200 per cent of the size of their economy. That's the sort of thing at stake here, including in our broader region, as a country that neighbours the world's largest archipelago, Indonesia, which has so much at stake. I very much enjoyed the working relationship I've developed with my counterpart, Arifin Tasrif, as chair of the G20 energy ministers meeting in recent months. Better international engagement is also important for our ambition for Australia to be a renewable energy powerhouse, our ambition to export renewable energy around the world, creating jobs and investment as we do so. This is a key fortnight for international engagement, with the COP convening in Egypt.

When parliament rises I'll be departing for Egypt with my assistant minister, Senator McAllister, representing Australia for the negotiations next week. I know that Australia will receive a warm welcome there. I know that, because that warm welcome has been expressed over the last 24 hours,

The outgoing president of the COP, the Rt Hon. Alok Sharma, said this overnight: 'How can I put this this diplomatically? The government of Australia is back at the front line in the fight against climate change'. I note the comments of the former US president Al Gore, who said: 'Earlier this year, the people of Australia chose to start leading the renewable energy revolution.'

They can mock—they like to mock, Mr Speaker. But the fact of the matter is that Australia is back at the international table because we know that good climate policy is good economic policy. We know that good climate policy creates jobs in our regions and investments in our regions, who have powered Australia for so long. We understand what is at stake. We are the developed country with the most to lose from unchecked climate change and natural disasters—floods, fires and cyclones. All of this is at stake. The people who have suffered from floods over recent months can expect them to get worse and more frequent. It's the same with bushfires. We are also the developed country with the most to gain from real action on climate change. That's what the Albanese government will deliver.

8 November - Questions on Climate Change

Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Leader of the Opposition) (14:09): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the coalition has ruled out paying compensation to other nations for the effects of climate change. Will the Albanese government also rule out signing Australia up to compensating other countries as part of the deal being negotiated at COP 27 in Egypt?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:10): One of the things I won't do, in front of a boom mic, is make a joke about our island neighbours drowning. That's one of the things that I won't do! I won't do that. And I won't do that because I want to build good relations with our Pacific neighbours. One of the things that we provided for in the budget is there for all to see—and if the Leader of the Opposition wants to have a look at the budget papers, we've made it very clear that one of the things we will do is provide support for our Pacific island neighbours for infrastructure that they need to be dealing with because of the threat that countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati are experiencing.

One of the things that we saw during the election campaign was Solomon Islands front and centre of the campaign. The fact is that Australia, unfortunately, has stepped back and that other nations, with the strategic competition that's occurring in our region, have stepped in. One of the things we need to be very conscious of is that climate change is indeed a national security issue. That is something that is recognised by the United States and it's something that is recognised by our other partners and, indeed, by our allies. It's something that was recognised in the Quad leaders meeting.

The first thing I did as Prime Minister was get on a plane and visit Tokyo to meet with Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister Kishida and President Biden. There, we spoke about the responsibility that we have as leaders of developed nations to engage in our region—in South-East Asia and in the Indo-Pacific. So what we won't be doing is trying to score a cheap domestic political point and, at the same time actually set back our international relations. You can't say that you care about strategic competition in the region whilst you continue with this sort of position. No wonder that Senator Wong has had to work so hard to restore Australia's standing in our region.

Dr ANANDA-RAJAH (Higgins) (14:12): My question is to the Prime Minister. As the COP 27 climate change conference gathers, what action is the Albanese government taking on climate change?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:13): I thank the best-ever member for Higgins for her question! I'll say this: the COP 27, the UN Climate Change Conference, has begun at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, and it will sit for the coming fortnight. It sits in a context where it comes after the hottest decade on record. Indeed, the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record. Think about that. Every one of the eight hottest years on record were in the last eight years—the last eight years!

What we've seen of course is not just the impact of this with the devastating floods in places like Pakistan; we don't actually have to look offshore—we can look here at the increased number of extreme weather events and the increase in the severity of them. Just before question time I was speaking to the member for Riverina about Forbes in his electorate, which we visited just a couple of weeks ago. We visited as the floodwaters were going down. They went up again, and fortunately for the people of Forbes, who've done it so tough, they've gone down again. Just a week ago, with the New South Wales Premier, I visited Lismore, where we're actually having to buy homes to move people out of the floodplain because they do not feel safe in those communities. We've had the devastating bushfires, including in areas of rainforest that had never burnt before, ever. The Secretary-General of the UN said last night that the science is clear that any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees means achieving global net zero emissions by 2050. But that 1.5-degree goal is on life support, and the machines are rattling. This parliament—the major parties—apparently are all agreed on net zero by 2050, except for the rhetoric, and you wouldn't know it if you followed the statements that are aimed.

So, our government is acting. One of our first acts was to sign up to our changed nationally determined contribution of 43 per cent by 2030. We've enshrined in law net zero by 2050, and we're investing in renewable energy. Climate change is a challenge for our generation, but it's also a challenge that we need to work with the rest of the world on.

8 November - Statements (on Gas Industry)

Mr BANDT (Melbourne—Leader of the Australian Greens) (13:39): In May, Australians voted overwhelmingly for climate action, and this month voters in Victoria have the chance to do the same again. The climate crisis is caused by the mining and burning of coal and gas, yet the Victorian Andrews Labor government has given the green light to a billionaire media owner to drill for gas next to the iconic Twelve Apostles. The decision is bad news. It's bad news for the climate, as more coal and gas means more extreme weather; it's bad news for the sensitive marine environment, as heavy industry, drilling and mining under the Southern Ocean will undoubtedly have adverse effects; and it's bad news for the tourism industry around the Great Ocean Road, which is already struggling to cope with rising sea levels, erosion and overuse.

However, the new undersea gas project is set to get underway as early as next year. The gas industry has too much power over politics in this country. Gas corporations pay millions in donations to Liberal and Labor and, as a result, they get special treatment. And that's not the only special treatment. The gas industry, according to the ATO, is a systemic nonpayer of tax. They're making billions in profit, exporting most of it, pushing up the domestic price. The Greens policy is simple: no new coal and gas. When Victorians go to the polls this month they have a choice. They can vote for the Greens to keep the Liberals out and push Labor to do what they say: reduce emissions and keep people safe.

8 November - Statement on Budget cut to National Centre for coasts, environment and climate

Ms McKENZIE (Flinders) (13:47): With acute disappointment for the Mornington Peninsula the Albanese government used its first budget to cut future funding for the national centre for coasts, environment and climate. That centre was to bring Monash University and the University of Melbourne together for the first higher education research institute on the Mornington Peninsula with a key focus on climate science. It would also give new life to a number of buildings within the Point Nepean National Park which are rapidly deteriorating.

This project has been long fought for not only by academics but also by our local community. Following the signing of a Commonwealth grant agreement in 2020 the universities undertook extensive consultation with Parks Victoria, the environment protection agency, the Mornington Peninsula Shire council as well as the Bunurong land council. Community consultation was indeed well underway. The last one was held only one month ago, with two renowned academics present, Professor Tim Dempster of the University of Melbourne and Professor Peter Currie of Monash University. Locals met with these two world-leading scientists at the Point Nepean markets on 25 September.

The budget papers state that the funding for the national centre for coasts, environment and climate was cut because the project does not align with environmental spending priorities. This is a project that brought together two of the world's top 50 universities for the purposes of climate science. It is a shame it will be no longer.

7 November 2022 Questions on Climate Change

Ms WATSON-BROWN (Ryan) (14:54): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, your government wants to host the 2026 COP climate summit with the Pacific, yet Australia is one of the world's biggest fossil fuel exporters, with a further 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline. Prime Minister, to help secure the hosting of the global climate summit, will you now commit to not opening any coal and gas projects?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:54): I thank the member for her question and for her engagement and her passionate advocacy for action on climate change. The government will be implementing the plan that we took to the election: our Powering Australia plan, our plan to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, our plan to engage with our Pacific neighbours. At the Pacific Islands Forum, which Prime Minister Bainimarama hosted in Fiji, it was clear to me that the entry card to get into discussions around the globe is action on climate change. It's taking climate change seriously. And the fact is that the communique from that summit, from the Pacific Islands Forum, welcomed the Australian government's new position as it's been welcomed around the world, as it's been welcomed in North America by President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau; as it's been welcomed in Europe by the European Commission, as it has been welcomed and will be welcomed at the COP, which the minister will be attending next week on behalf of the Australian government.

Australia is now back, engaged with the global challenge of dealing with climate change, and we know that one nation alone can't deal with it. We need to be part of bringing the community with us and we need to be part of bringing the whole globe with us as well, which is why I've been very pleased with the discussions I've had. In most countries, this is not a partisan issue. I discussed it with the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, just last week. The first issue that we discussed as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom—a conservative prime minister—and an Australian Labor Prime Minister was action on climate change and our common positions on that. It was just like when I had that discussion with Prime Minister Johnson when he was in office and with Prime Minister Truss when she was in office as well.

The extraordinary thing about when you engage with international leaders—and we will be engaging to secure the hosting of the COP in a few years time and we will be attempting to host that with our Pacific neighbours. We're receiving strong support from around the Pacific for that objective. It would be a good thing for Australia to do, and I look forward to success, to notifying the parliament and for us to work to host what is a very important international event.

7 November - Statements (on Climate Change)

Ms STEGGALL (Warringah) (13:39): Today, COP27 begins and it will focus on the impacts of climate change. Currently, global pledges to reduce emissions will not keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. We must do more. We know the devastating floods in Pakistan this year, which caused over 1,700 people to lose their lives and $40 billion in economic losses, are just one example of the scale of the tragedy that awaits us if we do not take more serious action.

It's welcome that a loss and damage fund for developing countries suffering the impacts of the climate crisis is high on the agenda. The COP 27 president has said that this reflects that sense of solidarity for the victims of climate disasters, but we must do more. For the Asia-Pacific, it's an existential crisis—islands are literally disappearing!—and Australia must engage productively and pull our weight as our scope 3 emissions are major contributors to this impact. We could not possibly host a future COP event until we show we're committed to action. And yet, we have the Prime Minister not willing to attend the COP27 and represent Australia on that stage. It is so important that Australia show that we are committed to stronger action and we actually have the Prime Minister attending with world leaders. To reduce our emissions is absolutely imperative. We have committed to the Paris Agreement. We must do more.

Petitions certified on 7 September 2022

4 petitioners—requesting that the IPCC Climate Change recommendations are made into law (EN4156)

2 petitioners—requesting the government sign the Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action (EN4242)

Global Methane Pledge - 7 September 2022

Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (11:00): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) the Government has signed Australia up to the Global Methane Pledge despite promising the Australian public that it would not sign the pledge during the 2022 election;

(b) this is a broken election promise;

(c) the Global Methane Pledge includes a target to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent on 2020 levels by 2030;

(d) 48 per cent of Australia's annual methane emissions come from the agricultural sector, where no affordable, practical and large-scale way exists to reduce it other than culling herd sizes;

(e) in the previous Government, the Coalition invested over $18 million to monitor and reduce fugitive methane emissions in the energy and resources sector, and help farmers reduce emissions from livestock; and

(f) this pledge, in effect, creates a cap on the size of Australia's livestock industry;

(2) further notes that:

(a) international research shows the target cannot be realised without taking behavioural and technical measures in the livestock agriculture sector, and recommends people change their diets resulting in lower meat and dairy consumption, leading to a capping or reduction of the national livestock herd;

(b) this will increase the price of a steak at your favourite restaurant or butcher, or a white coffee at your favourite cafe, at a time when small businesses are already struggling with mounting cost-of-doing-business pressures; and

(c) this pledge equally calls to reduce methane emissions from the gas sector—a critical fuel source that complements the increasing share of renewables in our electricity grid—which adds pressure to production and generation and is an invitation for the type of chaos we are seeing in Europe at the moment; and

(3) calls on the Government to:

(a) install financial protections for Australia's agricultural sector which will be impacted by the Global Methane Pledge;

(b) provide assurances to Australia's agricultural sector that there will be no new taxes and regulation to deliver the Government's methane emissions reduction target; and

(c) provide assurances the national livestock herd will not be capped or reduced as a consequence of the Government's methane emissions reduction target.

The government has signed this country up for the Global Methane Pledge and, in doing so, has inadvertently put a cap on our cattle industry—an unintended consequence of an ill-thought-through action. We've sacrificed the growth of our agricultural sector, the prosperity of regional economies and basic market freedoms so that the government can receive a pat on the back, from countries whose situations simply cannot compare to ours, at COP27. That's because here, in our country, around half of our methane emissions come from the agricultural sector. My electorate of Groom, with around 200,000 head of cattle on feedlots, is a significant contributor. We don't have the same, easy-to-find efficiencies, like fixing leaky gas pipes, that exist in other nations who have made this pledge.

What we do have is plentiful grazing land, generational expertise in the beef industry and significant technological research centres that make us a hotbed for innovation, efficiency and productivity gains in this vital industry. We are very proud of what we do and we want to keep doing it.

And, despite what some people might tell you, no affordable, practical and large-scale way exists to reduce methane emissions in agriculture, other than reducing the herd size. That includes the potential benefits of seaweed, which the government seems to be hanging this entire pledge on. There is currently no credible demonstration that this technology can be used to satisfy that 30 per cent reduction pledge. This is not speculation or uninformed commentary; this is the view from those with a stake in the game, on feedlots and in laboratories on the ground in my electorate. Much work has been done in the beef industry to improve time on feed, which has a direct impact on methane emissions. We know what we're doing, we know what needs to be done and we're doing it.

We also know the threat that this pledge presents to the red meat industry, because, unlike carbon, there is no way to offset methane. It cannot be sequestered. So, in the Australian context, when you hear the government talk about reducing methane emissions, they're talking about capping or reducing that industry. Under this methane pledge, Australia's national herd can't grow any bigger, because each new beast added is simply more methane. The biggest impacts of this will be visited on small, aspirational graziers who just want to build their businesses. Decisions which should be theirs, on herd size and breed, will now fall under big government regulation. This is terrible news for an industry that is still trying to grow back after it was hit hard during the last drought. We are still in the process of re-growing our herd, and this pledge makes it impossible to do that.

Let's turn for a moment to the government's assurances that this won't be the case—that this pledge is just 'aspirational' and won't lead to de-stocking or a new tax. How can we believe the government when this pledge itself was comprehensively ruled out by the Prime Minister on multiple occasions prior to the election? Just over a year ago, on 28 October 2021, Mr Albanese he told a journalist that it was premature for Australia to sign up to any such commitment because our cattle industry and its use of grazing is 'different from the way that agriculture and farming practices happen in other parts of the world'. Two weeks after that, on 12 November, when asked again if Labor would sign Australia up to the COP26 pledges to reduce methane emissions and phase out the use of coal, the Prime Minister said: 'We wouldn't sign up to that.' We now know that that isn't the case. The government has gone back on their commitment, and yet they seek Australia's trust.

At a time of workforce shortages, inflation and rising interest rates, Labor's response is more red tape, more bureaucracy and more government intervention in this very crucial and, occasionally, very fragile industry. It's taking control from an industry that has already committed to reducing emissions in a sensible and sustainable way without sacrificing productivity and handing it over to those without a stake in the game. Ultimately, it will be families at the supermarket who pay the price when the cost of meat and dairy rises. In this cost-of-living crisis, the government should be focusing on boosting our economy and not reducing it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Sharkie ): Is the motion seconded?

Mr Bates: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

Ms THWAITES (Jagajaga) (11:05): I'd like to thank the member for Groom for bringing this motion forward today. It is important to have the opportunity to speak about the effect of the Albanese Labor government's efforts to address climate change, including through our signing of the Global Methane Pledge—a move that has been welcomed by the likes of the National Farmers Federation, Meat & Livestock Australia and Farmers for Climate Action.

I am concerned that parts of this motion seem to be grounded firmly in the type of alarmism that we have consistently seen from those opposite when it comes to talking about action on climate change. It's worth noting that it's a special 10-year anniversary this year for the member for New England. It's the 10-year anniversary of his cracker of a claim that carbon pricing would lead to a Sunday roast costing $100 and a single cow or lamb costing as much as a house. What an anniversary! When in opposition, we called on the then government to take the issue of methane seriously. We had the same member going on about some nonsense about shooting cows. These claims, from now and from then, are as ludicrous as each other.

After the election, I had really hoped that those opposite, coming out of nine years in government—nine years of drift and denial—might have changed. I thought they might have taken a look at themselves and their failure to take real action on climate and decide they need to change tack. I thought they might realise that the Australian people want them to start working in the country's best interests. Unfortunately, I've been brought back down to earth pretty quickly. We saw it on the climate change bill. The government, the Independents, the Greens and others in this parliament came together to deliver, for the first time in years, a real plan on climate change. But who was on the outside? Who decided they didn't want to work across the parliament on this? That was the opposition. They couldn't get their act together in nine years, and they've decided they don't plan to try doing so now that they're on the opposition benches.

I should credit them though; there is one idea in this space that they do seem strangely obsessed with at the moment, which is, of course, nuclear power. Again, how interesting that in nine years in office it wasn't something they progressed but, now that they're in opposition, it's apparently the great white hope! That is despite it being the least cost-effective option and despite them not being able to tell the Australian people where they plan to locate this new nuclear power they are so keen on.

So our government is happy to leave the opposition to this irrelevancy. In the meantime, we're getting on with the job and we're getting Australia back on track. Our government has started a new chapter. We are listening to the Australian people, who have made it clear they want a government that takes climate change seriously. Our government does, and we're matching our words with action. We are moving forward in our switch to cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy. We are treating climate change as an emergency, because it is one. There are many parts to this, and that includes the Global Methane Pledge, which, as the minister responsible has previously outlined, is an important way for countries across the world to work together on reducing methane emissions. Since coming into government, we've worked with industry and farmer groups to progress signing this pledge. We've shown that you can take a route where you work with industry to get a better future for all of us. And I do want to thank all those groups across the country who sat down with government and constructively engaged in consultation and engagement to get what is a really positive outcome for our country.

Those opposite don't work in this way. They work on division. They work on fear. They're stuck in some idea of the past.

But the fact is: Australia's farmers have been at the forefront of action on climate change, and they deserve recognition for that fact. There are some important projects that will come in this space. Some examples of those are: $4 million to trial low-emissions livestock feed technologies; $8 million to the Australian Sustainable Seaweed Alliance to support the commercialisation of seaweed as a low-emissions feed supplement—I know there is a lot of interest in this project, and I hear from a lot of corners about how important that is; and almost $5 million in grants to support the development of cost-effective technologies to deliver low-emission feed supplements to grazing livestock.

The opposition has just been left behind. These projects are going forward. Everyone else is moving forward. And yet those opposite don't seem to have any interest in doing the same.

In contrast, our government will keep getting on with the job. We are working hard to take action on climate change and we are working together with communities, together with industry and together with Australia's agriculture and farming industry to do so. We're governing for all Australians, for a better future for all of us. We are working to address the very real challenges that this country faces and we are taking the Australian people with us as we do it.

Mr TED O'BRIEN (Fairfax) (11:10): I'm delighted to be seconding this motion moved by the member for Groom. Context counts. Right now, Australia is experiencing inflation that's almost out of control. The cost of living is biting hard in every household, but this government is not taking any action on it. Despite promising a $275 reduction in household power bills, power bills are skyrocketing. The budget forecast an increase of over 50 per cent in electricity next financial year. The government is taking no action on that. We have businesses screaming out, the Australian Workers Union is talking about 800,000 manufacturing jobs being at risk, we have businesses that might close their doors in this country because of skyrocketing energy prices and the budget suggests that there will be price increases of over 40 per cent in gas in the next financial year. The government is not acting on that. The budget shows that the economic modelling that underpins the entire energy policy suite of the government is flawed, yet the government is taking no action on that.

But there is something that the government is acting on. The government has decided that, in the midst of an energy crisis with all this pressure bearing down on Australian households and industries, now is the time to sign a global methane pledge. This is an opportunity to get on the world stage, to beat their chest and say that we are joining with other nations on a global pledge. The problem isn't just with the substance of what the government has agreed to but the fact that it is yet another broken promise. In opposition the now Prime Minister was very happy to stand alongside the coalition and refuse to sign the global pledge, agreeing with the coalition government that this pledge should not be signed. That was the government's position when in opposition, but now in their first six months in office they have added this broken promise to a long list of broken promises. This is nothing less than doing one thing in government that is very different from what you said in opposition. Those opposite know that, but they're very relaxed about it because there are just so many broken promises from this new government.

When it comes to the substance—this is the far more important point—we hear a lot of motherhood statements from those opposite, and I'm sure the government speakers to come will make them. It is speech after speech of motherhood statements. But what they cannot tell the Australian people, let alone those in the energy, resources and agriculture sectors, is how much this pledged commitment will cost and who will pay for it. That is typical of what we see from the government when it comes to climate and energy policy. They will agree to high-level targets without having done any homework whatsoever on how those targets will be achieved, how much it will cost to achieve them and who will pay for them. I welcome those on the government benches who will be speaking to outline the cost to Australia and how it is going to be paid for.

We already know that the government has an absolute disregard for the gas industry at a time when, despite a warning from the ACCC and a lot of other authoritative agencies that we need more gas, there is pressure on us having more gas poured into the system. We know that signing this methane pledge will only put more pressure on gas developers and generators, but the real heartburn for the Australian economy is to the agricultural sector, and to livestock in particular. No-one in government and no-one in industry can explain how this target will be achieved with the technology that exists today. It can't be done, yet they're happy to sign a pledge that somehow Australia will develop on it.

Industry is doing a great job, by the way, and the coalition backed them; that's why we put $18 million into ensuring that we were working with industry. But we are going to have no technology that can deliver on this methane reduction pledge. Do you know what that means? Those opposite, those in government, are wanting this to be delivered by changes in behaviour. They want people to eat less meat. They want the farmers to have fewer cattle in their herd. They should not be signing this pledge. They should not have broken their promise. But that's what the Labor government does. (Time expired)

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (11:15): I hazard a guess that there wouldn't be too many MPs opposite that would have a painting of a Friesian cow in their parliamentary office like I do, but, growing up on a dairy farm and being surrounded by literally thousands of Friesian dairy cows all my life, you could say I very much have a fondness for cows, dairy farmers and the community that supports them. In fact, I saw hundreds of dairy calves just yesterday when I dropped off my working Kelpie dog, Jip, to start his shift with my son.

After over half a century surrounded by dairy cattle, I've seen dairy farming change a lot. Dairy farmers have had to adapt to survive. But I have a saying: the smart farmers are adapting. Many have adapted to larger herds, some of gone to smaller herds and diversified into producing for gourmet cheeses. There is a thirst from the community for good local milk and milk products. People want to know where their milk comes from, how it is produced and that it's made in the most sustainable way, and the community want to support their local farmers. As I said, the smart farmers know this and have already been adapting.

They've also been adapting to reducing emissions, whether it's more solar, biofuels from manure, recycling effluent water and irrigating on their farm, and planting more trees. They've adapted to becoming more resilient to drought, bushfires, floods, storms, even a tornado and the next natural disaster that hits. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. It's the right thing for reducing emissions. It's the right thing for supporting the environment that has supported our farmers for generations. It makes good business sense for the ongoing viability of the farm.

So does it surprise me that Australia has joined with 122 other nations, including the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Germany, to reduce global methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030? Not at all. In fact, it's a worldwide pledge, which does not mean that each country must meet the 30 per cent reduction; it's about global efforts to reducing emissions from methane. It is nonbinding, and individual countries are not assigned targets. In signing the pledge it will not include binding legislated methane targets and will not require reduced agricultural production or livestock numbers.

Farmer Tim says he doesn't want a methane tax. Well, Farmer Tim, I agree with you. We can have a pledge and meet our targets without a tax. In fact, we can use projects like the fab cow poo farm that Farmer Tim is a part of. Fabulous. Who needs a tax? Farmer Tim is all over it, even without all those red socialist jackets that Farmer Daniel doesn't like.

You see, I really do love our dairy farmers—the good bits, the odd bits and everything in between. The simple truth is the Australian livestock industry is already pushing ahead with a strong emissions reduction agenda, including the use of feed supplements, investment into sustainable agricultural practices, improved livestock and manure management practices, and breeding lower emissions animals. Who'd have thought? Even the National Farmers Federation have said:

Signing the pledge signals Australia's voluntary commitment to participation in global action on methane emissions.

For agriculture it will reinforce our demonstrated commitment to sustainability and ongoing access to key markets as an export orientated sector.

And a joint statement announced by the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, the Australian Lot Feeders Association, the Australian Meat Industry Council, the Cattle Council of Australia, the Goat Industry Council of Australia, Sheep Producers Australia and the Red Meat Advisory Council says:

Today's announcement shows the government has listened to our concerns and recognises the Australian red meat and livestock industry is proactively addressing emissions and is well advanced in achieving its CN30 target. Industry's net emissions have reduced by almost 60% since 2005, representing by far the greatest reduction by any sector of Australia's economy.

With the right policy settings and ongoing research investment, our industry can be at the forefront of the climate solution.

Since coming to government, the minister has worked with industry and farmer groups to progress signing this pledge. Our farmers have been at the forefront of action on climate change, and I want to thank them for that. We will continue to reduce methane in the agricultural sector through technology innovation incentives and partnerships with farmers. I have always supported local farmers and I always will.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour.

No comments:

Post a Comment