Speech: Climate Change Bill 2022




Wednesday 3 August 2022

In the lead-up to the 2019 election, workers in the electorate of Canning were worried because they knew their jobs were on the line because of increased costs in energy-intensive industries. They were worried about what Labor would do to their electricity bills and their livelihoods if they were elected. Their fears were realised as the election campaign unfolded, which is why Australians turned their backs on Labor in 2019. When a crowd of our coal workers came to my electorate office in 2018, I stood on the back of a flatbed truck and I told them this: 'We've rushed through renewables. We've made power expensive, not just for industry but for working families and seniors, and you guys have paid the price, with people trying to negotiate down your pay and conditions.'

These men and women were fighting for their livelihoods, and their employers were struggling to keep the lights on. I told those workers we should be putting Australian workers and Australians families and seniors first. They shouldn't come second, but that's what Labor's doing today by rushing through this legislation. We know that ordinary Australians will bear the brunt of these measures. Instead of using cheap and reliable base-load power from coal and gas, households will be under pressure as energy costs explode on the back of imported renewables. Australian jobs will once again be on the line.

Fundamentally this country cannot have a conversation about a climate change bill without confronting the obvious effect it will have on jobs and the cost of living. But Labor is so focused on the politics that they have not considered the consequences. Through the Climate Change Bill and the associated amendment bill, they have removed all ministerial accountability for the impact of their policies on jobs, wages, investment and regional communities.

Before the election the Prime Minister said he wouldn't be forced into deals with fringe groups. But this government, with the support of the Greens, has once again realised fears and become more extreme. This was confirmed today by the Greens leader, the member for Melbourne. The member for Melbourne confirmed that the Albanese government included restrictions on the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, Export Finance Australia and Infrastructure Australia in its climate change legislation solely to secure the support of the Greens. These restrictions will make it harder, if not impossible, for these agencies to recommend or provide finance and insurance for projects in the energy, resources and agricultural sectors. It will see important regional infrastructure projects—projects that support more than 3,000 workers and their families in Canning—overlooked because of their connection to vital production industries.

This is Labor adopting a Greens policy from 2019. The Prime Minister has made many promises about his commitment to coal and gas projects, but, by denying them finance, he is stopping them in their tracks. This is a ban by stealth, but it's now time to blow its cover. It will affect workers and families across Australia. We cannot trust this government when they promise that not one Australian job will be lost as a result of their climate change policies. And we cannot trust them when, just two months in—

Mr Ted O'Brien interjecting

five days into parliament, Member for Fairfax—Anthony Albanese has already done a deal with the Greens that will see investments, jobs and prosperity disappear from regional Australia.

Jobs will go in Canning. We are home to two bauxite mines and two refineries, Wagerup and Pinjarra. That is 3,000 jobs, direct and indirect, in Canning, not to mention the many FIFO workers I represent. Before the jobs go, the hardworking families will be worried their fears will be realised. It's all well and good for Labor and the Greens to virtue-signal about climate change and push the costs and the consequences on to ordinary Australians and their families.

What you do first shows what's important to you, and in one of Labor's first pieces of legislation before this House they are fixing a target that cannot be met except by sacrificing the prospects and prosperity of ordinary working Australians. What Labor has done first shows who's important to them, and it's not working, ordinary Australians. It's certainly not the working Australians in Canning, who keep our alumina industry going. My message here is the same as it was in 2018 to the AWU. I'm keen to chat over the next two years, because it's going to get tough under this government.