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FOR – Committees — Environment and Communications Legislation Committee; Reference

Jonathon Duniam

I seek leave to move a motion relating to the government's amendments to the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2023, as circulated in the chamber.

Leave not granted.

In that case, pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, I move:

That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to the government's amendments to the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2023.

I think it is imperative that this chamber focuses in on its role, which is a role to scrutinise the government, its legislation and the dirty, dodgy deals it does with its bedfellows, the Australian Greens. We were promised scrutiny. We were promised transparency. Indeed it was something that the Australian Greens also promised and always talk about—integrity and conduct when it comes to legislating on behalf of the people of Australia, the people that send us here to do our jobs.

Sadly, though, we are being denied the opportunity to closely examine amendments to a bill, a hallmark piece of legislation that this government has been talking about and singing from the rafters about. They've been telling everyone it's going to fix every problem every Australian household and business faces when it comes to the cost of energy and when it comes to carbon emissions. But during the debate that we've had over the period of time since the bill was tabled and introduced in the other place, our friends here in the Greens have been cooking up a secret deal with the Australian Labor Party, the government, to make this bill worse in the name of just getting the bill through this week. It's going to drive up power prices. It's going to offshore emissions. It's going to ensure that people are without jobs. This crew here, the Labor-Greens government, the people that run this brave new world of accountability and transparency—I say that with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek—don't want us to know about it.

We got the amendments this morning, just before the debate in the committee stage of the bill commenced. That's outrageous. What contempt for the role of this chamber and the people that occupy it. Why can't we see in detail these amendments and what they mean? Why can't we go out and speak to the business community before we are forced to vote on this bill at the end of this week? Why can't we go out and talk to the environmental groups about what it means? For instance, the Bob Brown Foundation might have a strong view on this. I'd be interested to know what they have to say about this particular set of amendments that were cooked up in a smoke filled room somewhere in the bowels of this building between two parties of government, the Labor Party and the Greens. Why won't you let us do this? I would love to delay this bill to enable such scrutiny to occur because I think it's the very least we owe the Australian people.

This is, of course, in response to a government that went to the election promising that they were going to reduce power bills for all of you by $275. That was a promise made 97 times. Despite our best efforts, not a single person on the frontbench, nor any of the backbenchers, will utter that number, because it's a promise they knew they couldn't keep and it's a promise they know this legislation that we are dealing with in this chamber at the moment and these secret, dodgy, dirty amendments that have been made to this bill will not help achieve. They knew they were going to con the Australian people at the election. They knew they weren't going to be able to deliver on this promise. They gave everyone false hope when it came to ensuring they could meet their cost-of-living pressures, balance their own household budgets, keep the heaters and lights on during winter, put food on the table and ensure that the economy could continue to function and businesses could remain competitive.

Instead, they've gone and cooked up this dodgy deal—amendments that have been talked about; the minister, in the committee stage on this legislation said, 'We announced the amendments on 27 March, but we're only going to give them to you today as debate in the committee stage is commencing.' I've only just been able to read the supplementary explanatory memorandum. I think it is outrageous that this government would be so arrogant to think: 'Well, do you know what? Stuff you all. You don't need to understand a single thing in the amendments. You don't need to understand the EM. You don't need to know what this means for the people you represent, because they don't deserve it. We're in government. We will rule, and we will tell you what will get through this place, because we've got the numbers with the Greens.'

That's what happens, and I should know, as should any Tasmanian senator here. When Labor and the Greens get together, this is what they do. They cook up deals—bad deals—and they send the economy backwards. That will generate bad environmental outcomes, too. This is why people like former senator Bob Brown have been so outspoken about this legislation, and people have been tweeting about how bad it is. So, I say: please, have a shred of decency, Australian Labor Party. Perhaps the Greens will side with us and we can send these amendments off to a committee for examination. Perhaps we can have some transparency, some integrity in this process. Perhaps we could make you guys deliver on the promise you made 97 times to the Australian people ahead of the election. It's what you owe them, and you should deliver on it.

Anthony Chisholm

I must say, Senator Duniam is the sort of modern face of the Liberal Party—very articulate, presenting a different face to what we saw in the previous government; he wasn't a minister in the previous government. But the reality is that the position of those opposite is still the same. At the end of the day, the reason they are opposed to the safeguard mechanism legislation and are using every trick in the book to try to delay and obfuscate is that they do not believe in taking action on climate change. That's the fundamental principle from those opposite. They do not actually want to pass this legislation, and that is why Senator Duniam is looking for every delaying tactic in the book.

The fact of the matter is that by doing what he has done now he is delaying further the ability to get into the committee stage and ask the questions that he wants to ask. So, it is stunt after stunt, filibuster after filibuster, because, at the end of the day, they have learnt nothing from the election last year. They've taken no lessons from that. They've taken no lessons about taking action on climate change, because they are so divided in their own show. We saw the federal election result last year. We saw the New South Wales election result only a couple of days ago, where the Liberal government was defeated. But they still come into this chamber and want to use every delaying tactic they can, every trick in the book, because, at the end of the day, they do not want to see serious action taken on climate change. That is what we took to the election. That is what we intend on delivering in government. People are sick and tired of the games of those opposite. We will not stand for it. I move:

That the question be put.

Sue Lines

The question is that the question be put.


Date and time: 3:57 PM on 2023-03-29
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 34
Total number of "no" votes: 28
Total number of abstentions: 14

Adapted from information made available by