Questions without notice – Climate change

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Mr BANDT: My question is to the Prime Minister. This week in estimates, government officials confirmed that projections for emissions from the enormous Beetaloo methane gas basin have increased by a whopping 5,000 per cent, and this is before any of the gas is even burnt. Prime Minister, why are you continuing to push ahead with this giant climate bomb? If the 114 new coal and gas mines proposed by Liberal and Labor government go ahead, we will blow any chance of meeting even your weak climate targets, so will you back the Greens’ call for a moratorium on new coal and gas mines?

Mr MORRISON: The answer from my government is no. The answer we would find out, if there were a Labor government, is, ‘We’ll tell you later.’ We’ll tell you later—after they’ve sat down with the Greens and sought to negotiate the formation of a government. That Greens and Labor alliance is the ‘galah party’—the Greens and Labor alliance.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the question, please.

Mr MORRISON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I ask the minister for resources to add further to my answer.

Mr PITT: To reiterate the Prime Minister’s position, we are not closing coal, oil and gas projects in this country. We are not. With regards to the emissions piece that the member has raised, this is pretty straightforward. The Beetaloo basin is not currently online. For those who know anything about the resources sector, you will know that these projects and these basins deplete over time. That is why we must have a pipeline of projects in this country to make sure we can continue to supply gas, not only for our domestic consumption but to meet our international contracts.

We only have to look at what happened in the recent pandemic. This country maintained its reputation as a reliable supplier. In fact, it exceeded all expectations, by delivering on contracts, meeting its commitments and providing resources and energy to its trading partners, which has kept the lights on, not just here but right around the world—in South Korea, in Japan and in other countries where we have trade agreements and contracts which we have met. I say to those opposite, and I say to the member asking the question—

The SPEAKER: The member for Melbourne, on a point of order?

Mr Bandt: The point of order is on relevance. We’re more than halfway through the question. The question was about climate, and I thought the government might at least like to mention climate change once.

The SPEAKER: The question specifically went to the Beetaloo basin. The minister is addressing that and the minister is relevant.

Mr PITT: Thank you Mr Speaker. I will come to the question the member has put. We have reduced emissions by 20 per cent! No-one else has done that—not those opposite and no-one before us. Emissions are down by 20 per cent. I say to the member for Melbourne: we are taking a balanced position. We are delivering for our nation not only in terms of the economy and jobs but by making sure we have a reliable and affordable supply not only of gas but of electricity for this country. Can you imagine where we would be if the member for Melbourne and the Greens teamed up with those opposite to implement that policy? There would be $500 billion worth of investment lost. That is the cost. This is what has been put forward by the member for Melbourne and the Greens, a policy where they would not allow any future coal, oil or gas production and no new projects in this country. Eighty thousand jobs and $500 billion of investment would be lost. And it would be supported by those opposite.

The SPEAKER: The minister is entitled to compare and contrast, but there was no part of the question in relation to alternative approaches. I would ask the minister to return to the question.

Mr PITT: Of course, Mr Speaker. Going back to the Beetaloo: what we know as the Beetaloo basin is one of the biggest gas developments in the world. It will drive billions of dollars of investment in the Northern Territory, thousands of jobs for Australians and continue to deliver for our economy. This is how we pay for roads and schools and hospitals. (Time expired)

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