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Greens Motion - No New Thermal Coal Mines
Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I move:
That the House -
(1) Acknowledges thermal coal combustion is a key driver of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures.
(2) Recognises the impact just 1.1 degrees of warming is having on Tasmania, including extreme floods, East Coast drought and marine heatwave, increased dry lightning storms and destructive bushfires, coastal erosion, biosecurity threats and ecosystem stress.
(3) Accepts the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels - such as coal -must end in order to limit warming and prevent climate breakdown.
(4) Agrees it is in Tasmania's best interest to be a climate positive, clean energy island.
(5) Notes Tasmania's natural, clean energy powered brand would be damaged by any new coal mines, and this brand damage would flow on to the agricultural and tourism sectors of the economy.
(6) Commits to a prohibition on new thermal coal mines in Tasmania.
The announcement by the Government to entice and encourage coal exploration and $50 000 towards Midlands Energy, which was announced only a few short weeks ago, has brought a breathtaking collaboration of people across the Tasmanian community. There has been an extraordinary speed of response and a depth of concern has welled up.
In the House today, we have many people and I believe there are people downstairs as well, and I welcome everyone to parliament. In the Speaker's Reserve we have Mr Headlam from Woodbury, an area affected by this licence. There are many other people in Tasmania who are watching us online as we debate this motion, and others who will be looking at social media afterwards. It has tapped into a depth of concern about what is happening in the global climate, a recognition of the urgent need for action and a real eye-watering sort of outrage, I suppose, at the ludicrous prospect of handing out thermal coalmining leases in this time, in this place, on planet Earth.
The genesis of this global movement which is underway, and that we see expressed here today and also that we saw expressed yesterday - and I acknowledge the three women activists from Extinction Rebellion who were arrested outside parliament, bringing to the attention of all politicians in this Chamber the importance of listening to climate scientists, understanding the breakdown that is happening in the climate and acting.
This has been bubbling away for six decades or more. Climate scientists, physical scientists have been documenting changes that are happening to the global climate system. The Greens as a party that listens to science has always reflected this in our policies. For decades we have been reflecting what the scientists are saying, evolving policies and comments as the times change.
The impetus for what is happening here today, the response that we are seeing across Tasmania to this proposal, came only in the last year. The global movement that is now blooming across 150 countries where 4500 events were held for the global climate strike only a few weeks ago around planet Earth. It was estimated that 6 million to 7 million people turned out on the streets to talk about what scientists are telling us is really happening to the global climate.
This knowledge has only percolated to the surface in the last year. We have to acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of a then 15-year-old girl who took it upon herself with her super powers of attention to detail, listening to scientists, to recognise that we have to stand up against a situation which is continuing to proceed as though it is business as usual. Greta Thunberg who sat Friday after Friday by herself in Sweden holding her own placard in Swedish, 'School strike the climate', has been a catalyst for a global climate movement. We saw the result of that a couple of weeks ago on 20 September. It has only been one year this month since the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change handed down a report, a clarion call, from scientists worldwide about the state of the global climate system. Their deadline to us as a planet is that we have until 2030. Last year it was 12 years, now it is 11 years. The clock is ticking. The United Nations told us that we must act immediately and urgently to keep the global climate down to 1.5 degrees or dramatically risk escalating carbon emissions causing further climate breakdown and tipping points for collapse to natural systems.
In response to that, Extinction Rebellion launched themselves with a public letter signed by 100 academics in October last year in the United Kingdom. From that time there has been a resurgence of non-violent civil disobedience around the planet from people who understand that when governments fail to act, when the system fails to respond, we have to do everything we can on as personal level to force the political system to listen to the truth of what is happening. Their demand 'Tell the truth, act now' is something that we saw reflected yesterday and we will continue to see until we take the actions that we must take.
I seek the indulgence of the other members to table the open letter that was circulated as a result of the announcement a few weeks ago from the community groups.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will read from it and then provide it to the Clerk. This letter has been circulated to the Premier and to the Leader of the Opposition, and also to Ms Ogilvie.
The open letter is in support of the motion before us today and it has been signed by a huge number of organisations and individuals. I do not have time to read them all but it is important for people who are listening and watching, and for members in the Chamber, to understand the breadth of people who have signed this open letter in support of the motion that we are debating today.
They include these organisations: the Wilderness Society, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Fossil Free UTAS, Climate Action Hobart, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, South Hobart Sustainable Community, IMPACT Utas, Teros Australia, Clarence Climate Action, Tasmanian Refugee Rights Group, AYCC Tasmania, Animal Liberation Tasmania, UTAS Justice Society, the ACF Tasmania South, Extinction Rebellion Tasmania, Frack Free Tas, Bob Brown Foundation, the School Strike for Climate, Australian Parents for Climate Action, Climate Justice Initiative, Rebel Food Tasmania, Australia Institute, Surfrider Foundation Tasmania, Good Life Permaculture, Unionists for Climate Action, Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, Climate Tasmania, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Friends of the East Coast, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance, Tasmanian National Parks Association, Student Environment and Animal Law Society, the North East Bioregional Network, The Tassie Nannas, Agri-Energy Alliance and Environment Tasmania.
Prominent individuals who have signed this include David Bartlett, the former Labor premier; Paula Wriedt, the former minister for the environment, Labor; Andrew Lohrey, the former Labor speaker of the House of Assembly; Greens senator, Peter Whish-Wilson; Greens senator, Nick McKim; and Andrew Wilke, federal MP for Clark.
There are pages of academics from the University of Tasmania who have also signed up and this is a move that we have seen worldwide. Scientists who have been cautious for decades, who have been restrained, who have stayed within the ivory tower have increasingly come out to make strong statements about the reality of the evidence they are finding, the modelling they are doing, the understanding of the changes to the natural system.
In Tasmania, in support of the motion today we have signatures from - I will not have time to go through their disciplines - [Names to be checked]
Chris JohnsonDavid BowmanNick CoolingFay JohnstoneDr Hamish Maxwell-StewartAiden DavidsonCaroline SmithJohn HunterCorey PetersenDr Catherine ElliottJamie KirkpatrickDr Chloe LucasDr Kate BoothDr Emma FarrowDr Alistair RichardsonDr Chia-Chin (Amy) LinDr SBProfessor Matt KingDr Karen JohnsonDr Joe IngramDr Philippa WatsonDr Kim BeesyDr Vishnu PrasadDr Russel WarmanDr Danielle WoodDr Louise Richardson-SelfDr Cas RossDr Lucy TatmanAssociate Professor Dr Penny EdmondsAnne SethJack CainKate BendallClare Smith
A huge number of general practitioners, medical students, economists and Bonnie Speed, the actress, Andy Townsend, a nature photographer.
Ms O'Connor - Heather Rose.
Dr WOODRUFF - Heather Rose, a world-renowned novelist from Tasmania. PhD students, marketing managers, environmentalists, advocates, agronomists, Amanda Lohrey, also an author, and Anna Paftus from organisations around Tasmania.
We will make this available online. It will be tabled to the Clerk. It shows us that people understand just in the last year, with three global climate strikes in March, May and again in September, where millions of people turned out onto the streets that there is a movement underway across the planet.
The question is: why listen to this movement? Other more concerning and nefarious movements are underway on the planet. There are movements that trade in fear, which create walls within and between people who trade in religious and race-based hatred. We do not support or listen to those movements.
This movement is based in science. It is life affirming. It is positive. It is future looking. It is telling us the truth of what is happening. It understands that there a threat to all of life on Earth and we must act with urgency to avert it. The demands of the school strike for climate, which has now become the global climate strike movement, and the extinction rebellion combined are about telling the truth. Fundamentally, they are about three demands.
The first one is, no coal, gas or oil mining any longer. The second one, 100 per cent renewable energy. The third one is a just transition. Transition means moving on from where we are now, not staying where we are and doing a little bit less of it. It means changing our state. In that context, Scott Morrison said, only recently, 'I don't want our children to have anxieties about this issue'. He would prefer to appeal to calm and contentment as though calm and contentment is the right response in this situation.
It is deeply disturbing to have a prime minister who is denying the reality of the science. The scientists, and many of the people who signed this letter are some of those people, tell us that we have eight-and-a-half years at the current rates of rising carbon dioxide from the mining of coal, gas and oil. By that time, we will have reached the limit of what the planet can absorb of carbon dioxide to be able to stay at the maximum increase of 1.5 degrees that the UN IPCC recommends we stay under. Beyond that extra level of heat we would trigger ongoing cascades of climate interactions that will make the planet uninhabitable for most people and bring waves of refugees and other changes.
These words are really hard to say. I find myself in a space where, in such a short amount of time we are and we must have public conversations about things like the habitability of the planet, not only for furry mammals but for human beings. We have for too long, thought of ourselves in a different category, but the science is making it abundantly clear that we are all in this together. We all face some pretty serious threats and an irretrievable crisis unless we act within this very short window of time.
The expectations would be that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced in the near future because of land that can no longer support them, because of depleted water sources after fires, floods, typhoons and landslides. That will bring problems of xenophobia which are already obvious across the world and are particularly severe. We will be addressing the endless mobility of people who will be desperate and dispossessed. Think of how badly we already deal with a tiny number of people on boats who are fleeing warfare in the Middle East and in Central Asia and imagine that number magnified by enormous amounts.
The impacts now at 1.1 degree of heating on the planet, which is where we are at the moment, is already too late for many people. People in the Arctic, the Inuit, people from Tuvalu and other Pacific Islands, and people in parts of Africa and Asia as well as our own farming communities in western New South Wales, which are becoming more desert-like and uninhabitable today as we speak. We still have towns at risk of losing their water supply altogether in western New South Wales - large towns like Dubbo. We are not talking about a few campgrounds out in the desert. We are talking about substantial towns with 30 000 people in them.
In Tasmania we had massive bushfires in 2016 and 2019. We had the longest and largest ever recorded marine heatwave off the east coast of Tasmania in 2016. These things are not decreasing in number, they are increasing. Biosecurity threats from new insects, from marine life, invertebrates and birds that are trying to move to areas as their own environments to the north heat up, are having big effects on our ecosystem. Added to events like dry lightning storms, which we have never experienced before, we are seeing a truly changing environment in Tasmania.
In the context of that avalanche of global people movement concern and the scientific evidence, we had an announcement for a new export-oriented thermal coalmine in Tasmania's Midlands. It was ludicrous and totally unbelievable.
There was an exploration licence and a gift of $50 000 handed to the Government by Midland Energy to hunt for coal. That licence covers 15 000 hectares of privately owned land at Melton Mowbray, Jericho, Oatlands and Woodbury, some of the land that Mr Hedland, who is sitting behind me, owns part of and is custodian of and farms there.
It is land that is serviced by the recently established Midlands Irrigation Scheme, prime agricultural land. Hundreds of landowners who spent their lives and hard-earned incomes improving their property would have no right to refuse exploration drilling. They would have no legal way to prevent losing their land to open-cut coalmining if coal was found there. How would open-cut coalmines, in the centre of an island at the bottom of Australia, ever compete with mega-coalmines to the north in Queensland? There is obviously just one answer to that. It would be public subsidies, which is the way we like to do things in Tasmania with extractive dinosaur industries - just hand out a bit of public money to keep them going.
Behind that $50 000 handout to Midland Energy for an exploration licence, when we did some digging we found a raft of other thermal coal ventures. By our count, there are currently seven exploration licences for coal, a number of which are currently up for renewal. There is another series of potential mining leases over tenements near Cornwall and south of St Marys, and HardRock Coal Mining states that it aims to be the first company to export thermal coal from Tasmania.
Under this Liberal Government there has been 186 square kilometres of land which has been handed over to coal exploration. The Premier said this morning that under a Labor-Greens government these coal licences existed or were handed out, but that was five-and-a-half years ago and the Greens did not support that. I have just listed the things that have happened on the planet in the last year. In the last year, the science is showing us that the world is changing rapidly and that the mode of business development that was appropriate, if it ever were appropriate, five, 10 or 20 years ago, can no longer be considered anything like an opportunity that we should look to today.
There are clearly many other issues than the ones I have talked about in terms of building new coalmines in Tasmania. There are the rights of local Aboriginal communities to consider, who have been custodians of that land for more than 40 000 years. They get no say at all under Tasmania's coalmining exploration licencing system.
We have a state plan which is based on clean, green, environmental and niche products. It is based on renewable energy, it is based on a healthy lifestyle and encourages tourists to come to a place which is different and beautiful and pristine in the real meaning of the term. Open-cut coal mining would be the antithesis to every single one of those things.
There is no moral or economic reason to explore for coal, let alone to hand out public money to encourage coalmining. We have a moral obligation to all Tasmanians, young and old, to keep carbon in the ground and fight the climate emergency. None of us in this room can say that we no longer understand that emissions from mining and burning thermal coal will add to the already dangerous level of global heating that is occurring. Maybe we could have said that two years ago, maybe even one year ago, but that is no longer an excuse. The action that we take in the next eight years, at national, state and local levels, and personally, will make a difference. It has to make a difference. We cannot do everything personally in Tasmania, or even in Australia, but each one of us, on every level personally, and at the state level, can do something. We can do our bit, because every bit added together makes a difference.
Greta Thunberg has shown to all of us the power of collective action, and the point of collective action is that it does not exist unless you do it, and everyone has to do it. We all felt the power, those of us who were there, of walking in that crowded group of people along the streets on 20 September. It was an amazing sensation that I will never forget, standing with people, and I am sure everyone who is here in the gallery today was at that rally. It was driven by young people, children who were standing up showing us the way, showing us what can happen if a 15-year-old girl and all of her school friends across the planet put their hands up and tell us it is time to do something different, it is time to change business as usual. We can all do it. If we do not show what action looks like, if we do not do it here in the Tasmanian parliament, what hope do we have for young people to think about the future? We want to walk together into the future with them with genuine hope.
I hope that every member here from the Labor and Liberal parties will support this motion because this is a motion about thermal coal. It is not about coking coal. It is not about what is happening in the Fingal Valley. This is a motion of intent. It is a statement of belief. It is not a bill. It is about intention, so there is no way to weasel out of this because of being concerned about Fingal or coking coal. That is not what this is about. This is about new thermal coalmining in Tasmania and doing everything we can to avert the worst impacts of climate change, keeping fossil fuels in the ground and prohibiting the construction of new thermal coalmines. I hope members will support it.
Mr BARNETT (Lyons - Minister for Resources) - Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Government to this motion moved by the Greens, which is part of a concerted and long-running campaign to undermine not just the mining and mineral processing industry in Tasmania and preventing the development of new mines, but also to undermine our productive industries.
I can foreshadow at this stage that the motion put before this House is unacceptable and I will be moving an amendment. I will be doing that shortly.
Mining and mineral processing supports more than 5700 jobs across this great state of Tasmania, as well as delivering more than half of our exports. In terms of undermining the mining and mineral processing industry that is behind this motion, motivated no doubt by the Greens and their allies, let us be clear on what is behind this motion that the Greens have moved. In the past they have moved to have the Tarkine declared a national park and therefore off limits to miners, forestry, recreational users. Despite a mining history of some 150 years, they have proposed to lock up another 10 per cent of Tasmania through a 680 000-hectare World Heritage Area expansion in Tasmania - 10 per cent of the state of Tasmania. That is their proposal and it is on the public record.
Ms O'Connor - Why do you think people come here, to see coalmines?
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr BARNETT - They have proposed to rescind the legislated strategic prospectivity zones, making it much easier for opponents to prevent mining developments on crown land. This is all part of their strategy. Advice from the Department of State Growth about their World Heritage claims is that it would ban mining in one of the most prospective mining regions of Tasmania, including more than 1000 mineral deposits, eight current mining leases. Based on past expenditure the Department of State Growth estimates that the cost is upwards of $150 million in mining revenues over the next 20 years.
The mining industry has warned that the Greens' motion would be the thin end of the wedge, and that is from the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council. What is the view of Cement Australia? The general manager of operations, Warren Waples, has made it crystal clear what a prohibition on new thermal coalmines would mean for his company and his workers, and this is advice that has just been received earlier today. He says a ban on new coalmines, from his perspective, from Cement Australia, would mean an increase in CO2 emissions from the freight requirement to substitute local coal with imports. Second, the near-term closure of Cornwall Coal Company which has served Tasmania's coal needs for over 100 years. Third, the eventual closure of the Railton cement operation which has been operating in northern Tasmania for 100 years with the loss of 200 direct jobs in regional locations. This impacts many hundreds of contractors and suppliers in the local communities we operate in.
Ms O'Connor - Silly scaremongering.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, please.
Mr BARNETT - Finally, increased rail costs for all industry, commercial and transport users with the loss of the largest customer to the state-owned TasRail network. The motion was sent to Cement Australia to get their feedback because they are a key stakeholder, not only at Railton but at Cornwall Coal. This is their exact response I am reading into the Hansard so that you can listen to the number of jobs that you will impact. Mr also stated -
Coal is an integral raw material for the manufacturer of clinker, the main ingredient in cement which is produced from locally sourced limestone and limestone players and processed in heated kilns. The Railton plant is one of the few remaining integrated cement production facility in Australia and competes with the Australian markets with imported materials, primarily from Asia. The Railton limestone mine is a significant reserve with decades of proven resource and ideally situated for continued long-term operation of the clinker kiln. To ensure a secure supply of quality coal to the Railton cement kiln continued operation of the Cornwall Coal mine is essential. This will include the continued development of the current mine workings and the future opening of an identified additional new thermal coal resources.
As I said, the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council has warned that the damage could be even more extensive. What did they say in a media release put out yesterday, on the public record? The council advised firstly TMS is concerned with the proposed motion to prohibit prospective coalmining applications in Tasmania before any potential project is afforded the due processes -
Ms O'Connor interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor I am going to give you a warning. Please, I know this is very important to you. You have brought in a lot of guests so I would like to keep you in the room.
Mr BARNETT - So they say any potential project is afforded the due processes of being taken through the authorised and legislated -
Ms O'Connor interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Sorry, what was that?
Ms O'Connor - Nothing.
Madam SPEAKER - I suggest you control yourself, Ms O'Connor.
Mr BARNETT - As I was saying, Raymond Mostgol, CEO of Tas Minerals Manufacturing and Energy Council said -
Tasmania disadvantages itself in its attempts to attract investments from both new investors and existing businesses while ever politics is permitted override our robust and defensible standards. It is these investments and subsequent wealth-creation opportunities which provide the next generation of Tasmanians with aspirations for a bright future with employment. How can shutting these opportunities down be good for Tasmania?
That is a very good question. Let me say that as a government we are a strong supporter of the mining and mineral processing sector and we are an equally strong supporter of agriculture. We have the runs on the board to prove it and we will always act in the state's best interest.
Dr Woodruff interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr BARNETT - The mining industry can be assured that we will follow the legislated statutory process in the assessment of exploration and mining applications. Our farmers can also be assured that we will protect their interests. We have already given the commitment to the Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association that we will not support mining developments on productive agricultural land where it is not in the state's best interest.
Ms O'Connor interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, warning number one.
Mr BARNETT - I have made that perfectly clear in the past few weeks despite the cacophony from the Greens. They are not listening to the position of the Government and noting our strong support for both mining and agriculture.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister has entirely misrepresented our position. We are listening very carefully. We also note that in the public gallery and in the reception room, which is overflowing with people, people are listening very carefully to what he says.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you know that is not a point of order but I have indulged you by allowing it to go on Hansard. Please proceed, minister.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. As has been noted, in terms of the statutory process, it is really important to get this right. The Mineral Resources Development Act lays down a very clear statutory process for the assessment of applications for mineral exploration licences and mining leases. All proposals are considered on their merits and the focus is on ensuring that Tasmania's best interests are represented in the decision-making process. There are two coal exploration licences in the southern Midlands held by companies associated with Midland Energy. The licences were granted under Labor in 2008, and continued to exist throughout the period of the disastrous Labor-Green coalition government. Both of these exploration licences are currently pending renewal.
As Minister for Resources - I want to state this very clearly - I have a statutory decision-making role under the Mineral Resources Development Act in the determination of applications for an extension of term of exploration licences. Assessments of the applications for extension of term are expected imminently from the department in relation to these exploration licences. These assessments will inform my decision-making as required under the act. The Government has not granted, nor has been asked to grant, any mining lease on any area of these licences. Any application -
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of clarification, Madam Speaker. If you would not mind if -
Mr Barnett - Where is that in the standing orders? I have never heard of - I am speaking.
Dr WOODRUFF - If the minister would clarify whether it is in fact he who signs off those licences. My understanding is that you are empowered to do that, which means you are also empowered not to do that.
Madam SPEAKER - Okay. You have been indulged and I will let the minister continue.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I have a very important statutory responsibility in accordance with the law and you cannot willy-nilly change the law at your whim without passing legislation through both Houses of this parliament. Any application for a mining lease that might be made would be subject to the required statutory assessment and must be in the state's best interest to be approved. I have made that very clear.
Even with a mine lease, no operation can commence without the requisite land use permit from the relevant council as well. That is part of the process. There is a lot of water that is required to proceed under the bridge.
The Greens are clearly trying to paint a picture that we are doing nothing to address climate change. That is not true. In fact, it is a load of rubbish. Tasmania is leading in responding to climate change. We are doing our bit to ensure Australia meets its obligations. I will give you some examples. In 2018, Australia was a world leader in renewables with over $12 billion in investments, and followed that up by surpassing the nation's 2020 renewable energy target thanks to Tasmania - the Cattle Hill Windfarm, which is now under construction and proceeding very positively. We have very encouraging news. Tasmania was the first jurisdiction in Australia to reach zero net emissions in 2016 and is one step away from full self-sufficiency in renewable energy by 2022.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I cannot let the minister mislead the House and take credit for Tasmania being a carbon sink. That is the work of conservationists over decades, including The Greens, saving forests.
Madam SPEAKER - As you know, that is not a point of order. Proceed, minister.
Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, it would be really appreciated to get credit where credit is due. The Hodgman Liberal Government has delivered, and we are heading towards 2022 with 100 per cent fully clean, fully self-sufficient renewable energy in the state of Tasmania. If we were a country we would be up there with Norway -
Dr Woodruff - You have ripped up the forestry agreement. You are going to log 356 000 hectares.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, warning one.
Mr BARNETT - We would be up there with Iceland. We have a great track record and this will indeed deliver benefits for investment into Tasmania- $6.5 billion of investment coming out of our plans under the Tassie First Energy policy. Thousands of jobs under our plans for Battery of the Nation. By 2022 we will be at that 100 per cent, that is our target. We are on track. That is very encouraging. We are focusing on getting the balance to deliver jobs and that long-term sustainable growth. We are delivering.
In terms of the warnings from Cement Australia, the Minerals Council and what I have said already, I will not be supporting this motion, but I will be moving an amendment which I will now table and ask for circulation to the relevant members in the House. I will read that:
All words after House be deleted and the following be inserted -
1. Does not support mining developments on productive agricultural land where it is not in the State's best interests.
2. Continues to support the existing coalmining operations in Tasmania, which employ more than 200 people directly and indirectly and supports the local Fingal Valley and Railton communities.
3. Notes the Government has not granted, nor has been asked to grant any coalmining leases in the Southern Midlands; and
4. Notes the rigorous statutory assessment process set out under the Minerals Resource Development Act 1995 which is a legal requirement before either exploration or mining can proceed.
Ms O'Connor - Shame.
Mr BARNETT - I hear the word 'shame' from the member for Clark, who presumably will be disagreeing with that amendment.
Ms O'Connor - Yes.
Mr BARNETT - Clearly, that is part of the Greens approach, and I am not surprised by that at all. I guess the big question is, what will Labor do? Will they be standing together, shoulder to shoulder or tied at the hip with their Green counterparts as they did for four sad years under the Labor-Greens coalition, or will they see the light? The question will no doubt be answered very soon.
Dr Woodruff - They are snuggling up to your armpit at the moment.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr BARNETT - In terms of this Greens new deal, and we have heard about this at the Greens state council, we have heard about their plans of a Greens new deal. This is on the back of the Labor-Greens killing off the forest industry, two out of three jobs during that time. What a dreadful state of affairs, with rural and regional communities brought to their knees. We have questions for a Greens new deal and the question is, at what cost to jobs? Today we are seeing that the Greens are quite happy to sacrifice those jobs.
What did Bob Brown say about coalmining? It was brought up by the Premier this morning, and I have the Mercury here. The headline is 'Coal-fired power is the best option', quote:
Tasmania's environmental lobby has expressed its preference for coal-fired thermal power generation over the construction of more hydro dams.
The director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, Dr Bob Brown said yesterday that if there was a new power station then coal-fired thermal was the best centralised option we have.
20 October 1981.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing order 151, tedious repetition. Your Premier tried this, this morning. That is from something Dr Bob Brown said in 1980 before we fully understood the climate science. You really are clutching at straws. It is pathetic.
Madam SPEAKER - I can draw your attention to this.
Mr BARNETT - That is fine, Madam Speaker. The member does not like to hear the facts and the truth of 1981. I have said that it was in the Mercury. That was then, this is now; but that is what was said by Dr Bob Brown.
Dr Woodruff - It was 39 years ago.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.
Mr BARNETT - There you go, your leader, Dr Bob Brown. What is his response? There is a fair bit of embarrassment there.
We want to hear from the Labor Party and perhaps other members in this place. I will conclude on Extinction Rebellion that has been referred to by the member for Franklin. This organisation arose as a British-inspired group which appears to have a deep loathing for western democracy and western values -
Ms O'Connor - What a load of garbage.
Dr Woodruff - Come off it.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr BARNETT - and democratic election results.
Dr Woodruff - He is inciting us.
Madam SPEAKER - He might be inciting you, but you are grown-ups and you do not have to bite.
Mr BARNETT - I am trying to share a view with respect to Extinction Rebellion. When they cannot get their way at the ballot box, many of them act as anarchists, resort to standover tactics and they are drawing support from the Greens. I have had people contact me, particularly in recent times, saying they were embarrassed for and on behalf of the Greens because that group is demeaning the views of those in the Green movement. Nevertheless, I am making the point that Extinction Rebellion is not some benign, peaceful protest organisation as the Greens would have people believe. It is an organisation that is prepared to disrupt the lives of huge numbers of people and put those people in danger, in some cases to try to ram home a message that Australians have overwhelmingly rejected -
Dr Woodruff - With their knitting needles.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, refrain.
Mr BARNETT - rejected at the ballot box, listened to the views of the Tasmanian people at the ballot box and the views of the Australian people. On that note I move the amendment. I look forward to a vote on that amendment.
Mr O'BYRNE (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, if I closed my eyes it was almost like listening to Bob Santamaria there for a period, the communist socialist threat. That was a contribution around people's right and their ability to protest publicly was appalling and a poor reflection on yourself as a member of parliament, who should be engaged in public discourse and not afraid of people who have a different opinion from you. That sort of diatribe is unbecoming of a parliamentarian in this state.
Dr Woodruff - Hello, the Labor Party who has brought in the worst anti-protest legislation in Queensland.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff, warning number two.
Mr O'BYRNE - We only have a few minutes. Unfortunately, we will not have time to go through some of the things I wanted to touch on. I will make a number of points. Let us be clear, the context to this motion and this debate around the proposal in the Midlands is in context of the issue and the debate around climate change.
There is no doubt we are in a period of climate emergency. We know that human-induced climate change and carbon in our environment is out of control. We, as governments, and we as a community, need to respond. The science is unequivocal. Ecosystems, species are all under threat. We are seeing a high example of natural disasters, fire and floods, sea level rise. As a state that relies very heavily on our agricultural industries and our tourism industry, these impacts of climate change will not only have a significant environmental impact, but it will potentially take billions of dollars off our economy
When you talk about climate change, it is not purely an environmental issue. It is an economic and social issue as well. This is something that all governments need to confront. Regarding the issue of the protesters, I will refer to the reflection on those protesters, I think it is wonderful that so many people now are criticised for being dislocated from the political process, or are so apathetic that politics means nothing to them. To have thousands of people standing up on issues which are political in nature and having a voice heard should be encouraged, whether we agree with them or not.
I am from a union family, a union background; we would constantly march. One of my first memories as a child is complaining to my nan on my dad's side, Nan O'Byrne, in Launceston, complaining about something. She said, well go and do something about it. We said, there is nothing you can do about it. She said, yes you can, you can march. I think it is fantastic that people are marching. To call the nannas out the front who were knitting a communist and socialist insurrection is ridiculous.
Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker.
Ms O'Connor - It is also very similar to the Queensland Labor Premier's language.
Madam SPEAKER - Stop. Ms O'Connor, warning number two.
Mr BARNETT - I totally reject that accusation. I have been misrepresented. I was referring to Extinction Rebellion, the organisation.
Madam SPEAKER - Thank you.
Mr O'BYRNE - Peaceful protest, which is what we are seeing here in Tasmania, should be encouraged and allowed. It is people getting involved in political discourse. I reject the references. If there is a view that protests are unwelcome, women would not have the vote, Blacks would not be able to exist in our community and have jobs, and a range of other protest movements over hundreds and thousands of years. It is a fundamental tenet of democracy.
Mr BARNETT - Point of order again, Madam Speaker. You are again misrepresenting my position. I strongly support peaceful protests. The views of Extinction Rebellion was a view that I made. I do not like to be misrepresented by the honourable member.
Mr O'BYRNE - The characterisations that you made of those protesters and protesters in Tasmania, I believe -
Mr Barnett interjecting.
Mr O'BYRNE - Well, it is a direct reflection that you made on those people.
Ms O'Connor - Peaceful protest.
Mr O'BYRNE - Peaceful protest is what I am saying.
In terms of the motion, I know I am running out of time, like many Tasmanians, we were surprised by the announcement of the exploration on that piece of land and that announcement. We are very concerned about the proposal of a coalmine - that is what it is - a coalmine on prime agricultural land. Tasmanian governments, over many years, have invested in irrigation and in a whole range of productivity-lifting investment that would support prime agricultural land, and we do not support coalmines being proposed for prime agricultural land, We are very concerned about that proposal in the Midlands.
You cannot talk about coal in Tasmania in isolation of one proposal. As the minister has said, and people have been made aware, we have coalmines existing in Tasmania and they are very important for our jobs and the economy. We know they support activities at Norske Skog and Goliath.
The point I want to make around this is about the politics of climate change and the impact on communities. We have seen, particularly in the last federal election, the polarisation of this issue which has led to massive swings for and against either major party on the basis of climate and the politics of it in inner-city Sydney in one extreme, and in Melbourne and other capital cities. We have seen the other extreme in mining communities in the Hunter Valley and in Queensland, and this has polarised and divided our community.
We need to talk about a just transition for those communities not in words, but in deeds. In Germany they have achieved consensus among all stakeholders as to the way forward that meets emission targets while looking at those communities and industries that have historically relied on mining and particularly coalmining. They have a plan to phase out brown coal power generation in, I think, 2038. They have done that by negotiating with unions and communities in a period of time where there was general community consensus. The polarised debate about how you are either with us or against us and how you build an economic -
Mr Barnett - You are straddling the fence. You do not have a position.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, minister.
Mr O'BYRNE - It is not about the fence. Look at places like Germany where they have work through a just transition. They are not using a blunt instrument of all coal or no coal. They have worked through a process where it is a just transition -
Mr Barnett interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Minister, warning number one.
Mr O'BYRNE - for those communities so they have an economic and social future whilst dealing with the issues of climate change and meeting emissions targets, which are crucial. A just transition looks like the proposal we are talking about, minister, in terms of the hydrogen proposal in Bell Bay. You are giving $50 000 to a coalmining lease potential in the Midlands which you have said publicly that you probably do not even support because it is on agricultural land, but you will give them $50 000. We have an opportunity to create hundreds of working-class jobs and a billion-dollar export industry with green hydrogen to assist Japan, South Korea, Singapore and countries around the world to decarbonise their economies, yet you will not give a cracker, you will not give a cent to get the business case up. When you talk about a just transition, you have to put your money where your mouth is. Assist working-class communities, do not play the politics like you get up here - and I must admit, on the Greens side there is a whole lot of politics with this as well. You accuse us of sitting on the fence -
Ms O'Connor - Hello? We tell the truth in here.
Mr O'BYRNE - You need to work on a just transition. We need to ensure that when you talk about dealing with emissions and talk about coal, you need to paint a picture for the community, give them hope that a just transition is real and it is not just words. That is what Labor stands for.
Look at the German experience in terms of how you deal with those industries that issue high emissions into the environment. They are dealing with these matters in a consensus way. We had an opportunity with Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2008 over a carbon pollution reduction scheme and that fell and was dashed on the rocks of climate change politics. What we are calling for is assistance to build consensus.
Mr BARNETT - Point of order, Madam Speaker. This has been going on for 15 minutes now. The Labor Party will not declare their position. It is a disgrace. You need to declare your position.
Madam SPEAKER - Minister, could I have your point of order? Which standing order is it?
Mr O'BYRNE - He doesn't have one. Sit down.
Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, he is not being parliamentary. He is not acting in accordance with parliamentary rules.
Madam SPEAKER - You have to state the standing order.
Mr O'BYRNE - We do not support the amendments put forward. We have a series of amendments to the original motion that we would seek to propose.
Madam Speaker, I move -
That the motion be amended in paragraph 3 after the words 'Accepts the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuel such as coal must end in order to limit warming and prevent climate change' by inserting the words -
'while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities'.
This picks up on my point around green hydrogen and wind and solar.
I also move that -
Paragraph 4 be amended after the words 'clean energy island' by inserting the words:
'with investments in wind energy and clean fuels like green hydrogen.'
I also move -
That paragraphs 5 and 6 be removed and replaced with the following:
(5) We do acknowledge that existing coalmines in Tasmania have supported regional jobs for decades and still supply material to Goliath Cement at Railton and Norske Skog at Boyer.
(6) Commits to investing new renewable energy technology, including hydrogen, to create jobs in Tasmania and grow our economy, and agrees that no new coalmine should be permitted in productive agricultural land in Tasmania.
Dr Woodruff - That's not the same thing. That's the situation we've got.
Mr O'BYRNE - I did not yell or talk over the top of you. The subtext of this is that governments and parties need to come together to have conversations. We do not start with a clean slate. We have existing industries and communities that rely heavily on the jobs. We need to build a just transition. This motion, sadly, does not build a just transition. It says nothing about supporting regional jobs. It does nothing to support about alternative -
Ms COURTNEY - Point of order, Madam Speaker, for clarification. Does the member have copies for circulation?
Mr O'BYRNE - I have just circulated it here.
Madam SPEAKER - You need to give copies to each of the parties as well. We have had this statement before.
Mr O'BYRNE - Sorry, I did what the minister did, I circulated it to the Clerk.
Madam SPEAKER - Yes, but we need more copies in future.
Dr Woodruff - It's just total rubbish. We asked you if you had an amendment.
Ms O'Connor - This is so Labor.
Dr Woodruff - This is disgraceful.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr O'BYRNE - There is a climate emergency, right? Okay, we agree with that. We agree we need to act. We do not start on a clean slate. We need to talk about just transition. The politics of climate change has delivered Tony Abbott. The politics of climate change has delivered a conservative government federally. What we are seeking to do is to build a consensus about a just transition. We support a just transition and in the short period of time that we have been able to debate this I have made some key points. It is not all the points I would have preferred to have put on the debate and on the Hansard at this time, but we believe in the points we have made in terms of building a just transition for those communities that have historically relied on it. We want to try to build consensus across the community on the way forward and to build a sustainable future, not only environmentally, but economically for those communities.
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, in the short amount of time I have left I want to respond to both attempts by the Liberals, the minister and Mr O'Byrne to not support a ban on new thermal coalmines in Tasmania. Mr O'Byrne, we agree with you completely about the importance of a just transition. That is why in my public statements last week I acknowledged the Fingal coalmine, a longstanding coalmine, and the contribution that coalmine makes to that community. But I also said this parliament needs to send a signal that we are not going to contribute towards global heating.
Mr O'Byrne - An amended motion will do that.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, your amendment is typically Labor and specific to the proposed Midland coalmines.
Mr O'Byrne - You're just perpetuating the polarisation.
Dr Broad - You divide everybody - dividing the community into us and them.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Ms O'CONNOR - You can say that, but it is because you people wibble-wobble on this issue all of the time.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor, I am standing. It would be fantastic if this parliament could work together and get something that everyone can agree on on such an important issue. Please resume.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. This is deeply disappointing. It was an opportunity for parliament today to send a clear signal to the community, to young people who are striking for climate, and to industry, to our agricultural sector, our tourism sector, our exporters, all of whom are dependent on a clean, green brand, that means we cannot open new thermal coalmines in Tasmania. That was the intent of our motion.
I want to say to all of those wonderful people who have come into parliament today that this is your House too. I know you know that and I hope you appreciate that. We recognise that you are in the reception room and the public gallery and spilling out. You are concerned about the future of the climate and we stand with you. We will not let you down and we will give this parliament another opportunity to do the right thing and make sure that there are no new thermal coal mines in Tasmania. That is not this island's future and it is not the future of our young people and this parliament can do so much better than the woeful amendments that have been put forward by both parties today.
Question - That the amendment to the amendment be agreed to -
The House divided -
Amendment to amendment negatived.
Question - That the amendment to the motion be agreed to -
The House divided -
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to -
The House divided
Motion, as amended, agreed to.