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Thursday, 21 October 2021
Page: -1


Mr HAWKE (MitchellMinister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (10:50): The government will oppose the suspension of standing orders, for the following reasons. Obviously we have many members here, and I've got two of my colleagues here, the member for Robertson and the member for Mackellar, who are going to speak about their serious concern about and opposition to this. There is concern about an individual project from local communities on the North Shore of Sydney and the Central Coast among members here, and the member for Warringah as well. It's quite appropriate that that be discussed and be the subject of representations to government—and it has been. But I say to the member for Warringah: if you're serious about legislating and if you are serious about doing something or changing a law, it would be incumbent upon you to go to other affected communities and local members on the North Shore. This isn't a political matter; this is a community matter, an environmental matter, and you're not in a political party, as we understand. What you should do is approach the member for Mackellar and the member for Robertson and discuss your concerns with them and seek to get some consensus about what you might want to do.

So, for today, of course the government won't proceed with the proposal by the member for Warringah to suspend standing orders. That doesn't mean that this important conversation can't continue. It will. In fact, the advocacy from the member for Mackellar and the member for Robertson is very strong. And we've heard a very significant statement of intent from the Prime Minister—the strongest statement you could get on a matter such as this—which gives the community that certainty that members here are seeking.

In balancing our environmental commitments, while protecting our marine environment and communities on coasts , we also have to recognise that we have offshore petroleum interests across the country which create jobs and wealth. They help local communities in many parts of our country. All governments have to strike balances between these things. It's appropriate for this conversation to continue. It's appropriate for us to legally look at those questions and at what can be done within the frameworks of the law. The government will continue to balance those things. It will continue to work with communities across Australia. By using activism to do something in a hasty way such as the member for Warringah is proposing today—these things can have consequences for the sovereign investment framework for Australia, for the stability of our investment profile for very important projects that we might want to continue, all around Australia, that are appropriate for those communities, that are environmentally welcomed and that are safe.

The government's got a very strong statement of intention here. The Prime Minister couldn't have been more clear. The member for Mackellar is very clear about his community, and the member for Robertson is very clear about hers, as is the member for Shortland. There is more to discuss. But I say to the member for Warringah—and I have spoken to the minister—do seek a meeting with the minister and discuss it with him if you have these concerns. Go to your local neighbours and friends in the North Shore communities. This isn't just an issue that affects the community of Warringah; it effects the entire coastline of Sydney. I do think there's a time for you to have a collegiate approach on this.

So, the government doesn't support the suspension of standing orders. I look forward to the contributions of the member for Robertson and obviously the member for Mackellar, and the government welcomes the ongoing assessment of these processes and the statement of intent that the government's put forward.