Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2017 - Second Reading

August 16, 2017

Mr BUTLER (Port Adelaide) (12:32): I thank the other speakers, particularly the previous speaker, for their contributions to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2017. The previous speaker and the other house know Labor takes very seriously the threat of climate change to the one natural wonder of the world for which Australia has stewardship responsibilities—that is, the Great Barrier Reef. We have in the chamber today the former environment minister, who did a great deal of work with Queensland state governments and NGOs to put in place programs to secure the health of the reef. We've been very clear, particularly as the reef has experienced two very serious bleaching events in only the last 18 months, that the principal threat, the most serious threat, to the Great Barrier Reef is the threat of climate change. That is why we have been so vocal about the need to get climate change policy back on track in this nation.

Under the last Labor government carbon pollution came down by 10 per cent because of our suite of policies in climate change and energy, many of which I acknowledge were strongly supported and advocated by the Greens party. Since this government came to power, given its insistence on dismantling all of those policy frameworks and attacking the renewable energy industry, carbon pollution, unsurprisingly, as the member for Melbourne pointed out, has started to rise in this country—such that Australia now is the only major advanced economy where carbon pollution is rising rather than coming down. That will have a range of very significant impacts on Australia.

It has led to the destruction of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry while jobs are soaring across the world. It has meant Australia has not been able to participate fully in the investment boom, in clean energy and in clean technology. It also means we are not discharging our responsibility to our children and grandchildren to safeguard the health of this continent—a very vulnerable continent—in our agricultural regions, coastal communities and, as this bill deals with, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef.

We've had a look at the amendment moved by the member for Melbourne, seconded by the member for Denison, to the member for Watson's second reading amendment. Were the Greens and Labor able to have some discussions about this, I imagine we'd be able to agree on some words, particularly around the issue that is before the federal government and the national parliament now, which is the question of taxpayer-funded subsidies through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to the Adani coalmine, particularly to the railway line. I know that Labor and the crossbench are in furious agreement about that question. And were, for example, the member for Melbourne willing to consider an amendment to his amendment that would stop any taxpayer subsidies to the Adani Carmichael coalmine, there would be agreement between the Labor Party and the member for Melbourne and the member for Denison.

Unfortunately, we're getting quite close to the end of the debate on this bill—I know the assistant minister is about to sum up for the minister on this—but I do make that invitation here, with the member for Watson in the chamber as well, for the member for Melbourne to have some discussions with Labor about a form of words that would secure the support of the opposition, as well as the crossbench, on a second reading amendment.