Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall welcomes Safeguard Mechanism Bill

30 March 2023

I'd like to thank the minister and his staff for their engagement with me and many from the crossbench in relation to our concerns around the original version of the bill. I do welcome the amendments that are coming back from the Senate. I'd like to thank the Leader of the Greens and, through him, the members of the Greens in the other place and the crossbench senators in the other place for working with you on improving this legislation. It is a sign of a mature parliament that you can have a government that is open to amendments that, in fact, improve legislation. I welcome the amendments, which include better reporting, in particular, on methane emissions, and the implementation of the Chubb review, which we saw this in this place. I also welcome the minister's commitment to a further review on methane to make sure that we address it, knowing that it is such a potent emission and gas when it comes to trapping heat. If we are really going to act upon climate change, we absolutely must be cognisant that methane is a very real and present danger.

I welcome the government also accepting that gross emissions must be capped and must come down. It's a simple fact that we can't continue to have emissions, whilst being offset, continuing to grow indefinitely. We only recently had the latest report from the IPCC, telling us that staying to 1.5 degrees is going to be incredibly difficult and we need increased ambition. So, whilst I support the minister and the government and I congratulate them for this bill and certainly have supported it, I will continue to urge the government to get more ambitious and do more, because there is a race on around the world. We saw that the US has passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is creating a huge drive of investment and development of technology. The United Kingdom and the European Union have responded to that drive with their own legislation. I know there has been much work done already in bringing the government to attention in relation to that Inflation Reduction Act, its consequences and what must be done in Australia—in particular, when it comes to electrifying households and green hydrogen. This is so important.

Finally, I can't let this moment go past without acknowledging the comments of the member for Fairfax and others. If we talk about 'catastrophising' on consequences, there is no greater catastrophising than what is claimed the impacts of this legislation are going to be on our growth and economy and our prospects as a nation.

The race is on to be leaders in a renewable energy world, a clean world. It is not by embracing past technologies, mature technologies—the fossils of the past—that we are going to provide a future for our children and a clean and livable world.

When those comments were being made there were children in the gallery, and I'm appalled that they had to listen to that rant. When it comes to raising issues of a carbon tax, can I just say to the member for Fairfax: the previous member for Warringah found out the hard way that failing to accept the need to reduce emissions with urgency leads in only one direction, and that is out from this place. And I would say to the opposition: the message from the Australian public has been incredibly loud and clear. The science is settled. Climate change, global warming, is occurring. We must act with urgency.

There are challenges ahead, but there are opportunities. I am confident that this bill will not only address some of the need to reduce emissions but also create opportunities, and that, coupled with sensible policy, we can in fact prepare Australia and build an economy that is fit for purpose for the future, to give these children a genuine chance of the kind of life they deserve. So, if we genuinely want to safeguard their future—and I say to the children of Australia in particular: we are incredibly committed to addressing this challenge that you will face, as are so many here on the crossbench and, I hope, many on the government benches, and it would be great to hear from more in the opposition as well—it is time to break ranks; it is time to speak up on this issue.