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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8101


Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:16): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. Currently, rich OECD nations provide about $4 billion a year of public money to build dirty coal fired power stations in developing nations. At a meeting next week, OECD nations will review those public subsidies to coal. The US and Japan have just proposed an agreed position to end funding for the dirtiest coal fired power plants. Why is Australia blocking that deal and opposing international moves to cut public funding to the dirtiest coal fired power stations in developing nations?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:17): Australia believes in the coal industry. We believe in our own domestic coal industry. This is a very clear point of difference between the government and the political party that you represent, Senator Waters. We know that Australia produces some of the cleanest coal in the world. That coal is produced by a highly skilled workforce in accordance with world's best practice environmental standards. It is a very important source of prosperity for the Australian economy and a very important source of jobs for Australians—something, Senator Waters, that you seem to pay no heed to whenever you raise this issue. So the Australian government will continue to support the Australian coal industry. That is not a view, by the way, only shared on this side of the aisle. The Labor Party also supports the Australian coal industry. But you, Senator Waters, representing a party with an ideological zealotry about this issue, do not support the Australian coal industry. That is fine, but you go, Senator Waters, for example, to Central Queensland, which you are meant to represent in this chamber—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. A point of order, Senator Waters?

Senator Waters: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Despite the minister's rhetorical flourish, I would actually like an answer to the question of: why is Australia blocking moves to remove public funding for coal fired power stations internationally?

The PRESIDENT: I believe the minister up-front said it was because Australia believes in coal and the coal industry. I will take that as an answer to the question, but I will invite the minister, if he has any further information to add—

Senator BRANDIS: Senator Waters, as I was saying, you go and face the people you are meant to be representing in this chamber, the people of Queensland, including the people of Central Queensland, and you go and explain to them why you are trying to destroy their jobs, to destroy their economic prospects and the economic prospects of their children and their grandchildren by stopping the Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin. You explain to those people, Senator, why a mine that will lift tens of millions of Indian people out of energy poverty is in your sights. (Time expired)

Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:19): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. These coal fired power stations exacerbate global warming and pollute local air and water supplies. How can Australia support continuing international subsidies that prop up coalmining and block the transformation to a clean energy economy in poorer nations and have any legitimacy as the co-chair of the Green Climate Fund?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:20): Senator Waters, the fact that Australia has the honour to have been elected as the chair of the Green Climate Fund should give you a pretty clear indication that Australia commands more respect on this issue than you are prepared to accord to your fellow Australians. Senator Waters, the very coalmine that you are trying to block in Central Queensland, the Carmichael mine, will produce much cleaner coal, much more energy-efficient coal, much less-polluting coal than the coal which Adani sources at the moment, which is coal largely imported from Indonesia, some of the dirtiest coal in the world. According to your twisted logic, Senator Waters, it is better that Indian coal fired power stations be fuelled by dirty, polluting Indonesian coal rather than by clean, productive Australian coal. (Time expired)

Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:21): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. It appears the minister has never heard of the sun. Blocking this deal will ensure that Prime Minister Turnbull goes into the Paris climate conference as continuing Mr Tony Abbott's policy of wrecking international climate negotiations. When will the Prime Minister stop doing the dirty work of the Liberals' big coalmining mates and start representing the interests of Australians in supporting clean energy?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:22): The people listening to this broadcast, if there are any, would not understand from your question the truth that as a result of the Australian government's targets, arrived at during the period of Mr Abbott's prime ministership and adopted by Mr Turnbull, Australia is making the largest per capita emissions cuts in the world. We are committing to a target that involves the largest per capita emissions reductions in the world. Those emissions reductions will halve per capita emissions. By 2030 emissions reductions on a 2005 baseline will be, per capita, half of what they were. That is the contribution Australia is taking to the Paris climate change conference. It is a contribution that Australia should be very proud of, one of the most ambitious targets—in fact, per capita, the most ambitious target—in the world. (Time expired)