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Question Time: How does Labor justify new coal and gas?

On Thursday 10 August 2023, I asked the Environment Minister how she can justify approving new coal and gas. You can watch the full speech here or read the transcript below.


Ms WATSON-BROWN (Ryan) (14:11): My question is to the environment minister. Minister, how do you justify approving more coal and gas?

Ms PLIBERSEK (Sydney—Minister for the Environment and Water) (14:11): It's very similar to the question I was asked on Monday this week and last week and the week before. I'd say to the member for Ryan once again: no government has done more to transition this nation to renewable energy than our government, than the Albanese Labor government. I also say to the member for Ryan that it is only this government that has legislated a pathway to net zero, that has legislated an interim emissions reduction target of 43 per cent. It is only this side of the chamber that has delivered a plan to get to 82 per cent renewable energy, and, in my own portfolio, I have doubled the rate of approvals of renewable energy projects since we came to government. More transmission lines, more solar, more wind, offshore—

The SPEAKER: The minister will pause for just a moment. I will hear from the Leader of the Australian Greens on a point of order?

Mr Bandt: Yes, on relevance. It was a very short question—no preamble or suffix—and it was about approval of coal and gas. The minister, a minute in, has not mentioned that once. It's hard to imagine a more concise—

The SPEAKER: Resume your seat. I think in anyone's terms you would describe that as a very broad question. The minister was asked about approvals. She is being relevant. She's one minute into the answer, and I will ensure that she stays relevant. The minister has the call and shall continue.

Ms PLIBERSEK: I might remind the member for Ryan and the other members of the Greens political party that I am the first environment minister ever to refuse a coalmine, and I was able to do that because the law allowed me to do that, because of the risk to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. I judge every project according to the law, but the important thing to remember here is this government is determined to achieve net zero carbon emissions for Australia. We're determined to get to 82 per cent renewable energy. The approvals that I'm making for renewable energy, including working with the Minister for Climate Change and Energy on massive offshore wind farms around the coast of Australia—that's what will help us get to net zero. That's what will help us get to 82 per cent renewable energy.

I might also remind those members asking questions today that we have legislated a safeguard mechanism to deal with these large projects—a safeguard mechanism that you signed on to, that you voted for. This government is determined to ensure that Australia is on the pathway to net zero. The Greens have teamed up with the Liberals before to block action on climate change. We're all about delivery. We're about the hard slog of government, not the slogans of opposition.

Mr Bandt: You're using your government power to approve five new coal projects.

The SPEAKER: The member for Melbourne will cease interjecting.

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