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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14270


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (18:50): If the government is concerned about time, we've got another day of sitting and so there's plenty of time for this to go through. If you're that concerned about time then don't bring a bill on for debate at 10 to seven in the Federation Chamber. Organise your timetable better. Don't blame people for standing up here and doing what the Australian people elected us to, which is to have a debate and move our amendments. If it's that important to you, if somehow you can't get it through in the next day, even though you have bipartisan support, you have well and truly lost control of this parliament. Don't come in here and blame one person for moving one amendment for your utter failure.

The government mention the Pacific. I'll tell you what: a year and a bit ago I was at the world climate negotiations and I sat down—

Mr Coulton interjecting

Mr BANDT: I bet the member who interjects hasn't had that many discussions with people from Kiribati or Tonga. Do you know what the No. 1 issue was that the members of the Pacific islands wanted to talk to the Australian delegation about? It was Adani. That was the No. 1 issue. They came to us. They couldn't get an audience with the minister. He wouldn't meet with them. The No. 1 issue that they wanted to raise was Adani. They were pleading with Australian politicians: 'Please do everything you can to stop the Adani coalmine.' For them, the continued mining of coal, the opening-up of the Galilee Basin, poses an existential threat to their countries. So do not come in here and have the gall to talk about the welfare of Pacific islanders because, if you had the courtesy to sit down with people from Kiribati or Tuvalu, you would hear them saying, 'We want the Australian government to act on climate change and we do not want the Australian government opening up more and more coalmines.' And I bet they do not want the Australian government using taxpayers' money to do it as well. This government have the gall to pretend that they are somehow interested in advancing the interests of our nearest Pacific islanders at the same time as they are posing an existential threat to them.

Mr Coulton interjecting

Mr BANDT: The fact that the government member laughs at this point recalls when Peter Dutton was Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Who can forget that hot-mic moment when he was laughing about members of the Pacific islands not turning up to a meeting on time. 'Who cares about time when the ocean's lapping at your doors?' he said. Maybe the government might like to have a look at what the Pacific islanders are asking us to do before they begin moralising.

They talk about jobs. There are nigh on 70,000 jobs that are dependent on a healthy reef. Are they real jobs or not? If they are real jobs—and I say they are real jobs—then we need to do everything we possibly can to ensure that the reef remains healthy. Ask the former Chief Scientist or any respectable scientist in this area. The No. 1 threat to a healthy reef and the nearly 70,000 jobs that depend on it is global warming. And what is the single biggest contribution to that? Certainly, from the perspective of what the Australian government does, it is coal. If you oppose this amendment, you are saying you don't care about the 70,000 jobs that are reliant on a healthy reef and you don't care about our Pacific islander neighbours. You're basically saying, 'We want to give a big tick to the Australian government spending money on a coalmine, on Adani.' You're saying that is okay.

As to all the other things that the government said are important about this bill, you can proceed with all of those and have all of those. I may disagree with you, but you can proceed and have them. All that will be added to it is something that deals with a very urgent and very real threat, which is that the Australian government is doing what it can to give money to support coal. We know that they are bending over backwards to try and do that before the election because they know that an incoming government might have a different approach.

I'll say one final thing—a detail thing. The minister gets up and says, 'You need coal to make steel.' The government may not be aware of the difference between thermal and coking coal, but there's a difference between thermal and coking coal, and this amendment applies to thermal coal. So get up and make all the arguments you like about how you need steel—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): Member for Melbourne, your time has expired again.

Mr BANDT: Make all the points you want about how you need steel for electric cars, but maybe you don't understand the difference between thermal and metallurgical coal. This amendment applies to thermal coal. So don't come in here and pretend all of a sudden that you can oppose this on the basis that you care about the Pacific islanders, because the Pacific islanders don't want us to proceed with coal. Don't come in here and pretend this is about jobs in Queensland, because there are near on 70,000 jobs that are threatened by the decline in the reef. And don't come in here and pretend that this is fanciful, because we know that this government, under a veil of secrecy, has changed ethics mandates in the past. And we know that you are busting a gut to write cheques for coal companies before the election. This amendment will stop that.

So I commend this amendment to the House, and I hope that it has the support of enough members of the crossbench, and, indeed, of the opposition, when this comes up, because the rest of your bill will be allowed to sail through. But this will stop the government from writing those cheques that we know it wants to write before the federal election.

Question unresolved.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: As it is necessary to resolve this question to enable further questions to be considered in relation to the bill, in accordance with standing order 195 the bill will be returned to the House for further consideration.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 18:57