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Question Time: Safeguard Mechanism

On Tuesday 14 February 2023, I asked the Resources Minister if the government would keep approving new coal and gas, making the climate crisis worse. You can watch the full exchange here or read the full transcript below.

E WATSON-BROWN: My question is to the Minister for Resources. Sixty-eight per cent of emissions under the safeguard mechanism come from corporations and their peak bodies that donated $896,000 to Labor's election campaign, including coal and gas companies. The proposed safeguard mechanism changes won't stop new coal and gas and will allow fossil fuel companies to continue polluting through offsets. Minister, are you willing to make the climate crisis worse by approving new coal and gas projects for your corporate mates?

M DICK (SPEAKER): I'm just going to ask the member for Ryan to rephrase the end part of her question. I'll ask her to repeat the question, and I'll ask her to rephrase the end part of the question.

E WATSON-BROWN: Are you willing to make the climate crisis worse by approving new coal and gas projects?

M DICK (SPEAKER): Thank you.

M KING: I thank—well, I don't actually thank the member for her question, I think it's immature and beneath your position in this place—certainly the tone you adopted toward the end.

Of course, as the shadow resources minister when we were in opposition and now as the resources minister, I have dealt and do deal with the resources industry. Of course I would, and no-one would expect any less. I'm not the only one, and neither should I be. I imagine you might meet with the resources industry, and I encourage all crossbenchers, and all members of parliament, to engage with the resources industry, because they're one of the biggest employers in this country and they have been the foundation of the prosperity of this country since we started extraction in this country, whether it be gold or coal or nickel or, in more modern times, iron ore and other commodities—more recently our new developments in critical minerals such as lithium and cobalt and our development of nickel hydroxide, which will be the underpinning of clean energy technologies that will take us to net-zero emissions. All these extraction industries, which have been existent in this country from the 1880s right through to today, will play a part in our economy for many years to come. I think, quite frankly, everyone in this House should respect their role in our economy instead of placing slights on them as I think has just happened.

The safeguard mechanism is a part of this government's proactive and active response to climate change in this country. All projects—not just in the resources sector but in other sectors that emit—will be subject to it, and this government will make sure they are accountable for their emissions so that they lower them, whether it be through reducing their own emissions—by changing their technology or adopting new technology—or through credible offsets that we in this country can have confidence in. I acknowledge the report of Professor Ian Chubb, former Chief Scientist, and the work that the Minister for Climate Change and Energy is doing in regard to making sure that people in the wider community can have confidence in those offsets.

The truth of the matter is that, for a number of years, we will still need to use some fossil fuels to get us through this. We want to increase activity in renewables. We have a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. But, as even the International Energy Agency has acknowledged, we will need to keep using products such as gas to make sure we can process critical minerals which will be required. You are shaking your head. I can see you shaking your head, and you seem not to believe me when I tell you that to process rare earths and critical minerals, which are the basis of all clean energy technology, you will need gas. Gas companies do have to reach net-zero emissions, and they will be held accountable by this government.

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