While most of the news cycle was consumed with covering the slow-burning coal fire of the National Party deciding whether to support a net-zero-by-2050-carbon-emissions target, two bills were quietly introduced to the floor of parliament that spoke more about what’s really happening.
The independent Member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, tabled Private Members Bills relating to two issues that have dragged on for over a decade with no sign of an immediate resolution. As they say, “If you want something done, do it yourself.”
The first was the Stopping PEP11 Bill.
For the uninitiated, PEP11 is a 4,500-square-kilometre area off the coast between Sydney and Newcastle that is currently being developed as an offshore gas field. If drilled, it would be the only offshore gas well off the Australian east coast, and as such there has been huge public opposition to it, led by Patagonia grantee Surfrider Australia. There has also been huge political opposition to it across the political divide and all levels of government right up to the Prime Minister… none of whom have done anything to stop it moving ahead. The companies developing PEP11 already have a drilling contractor ready to go to drill their Seablue-1 well.
Steggall tabled her Stopping PEP11 Bill yesterday morning. If brought to a vote – which could happen next month – it would force Federal politicians who’ve publicly opposed PEP11 to formally vote against it. The Bill would call their bluff.
But the PEP11 Bill was just a warm-up to what was coming in the afternoon. Steggall dropped the Private Member Climate Change Bills, which would legislate both a net zero emissions target by 2050 commitment, and a more ambitious a 60% emissions reduction target by 2030.
“There is a new wave of opportunity and we need leadership and commitment to be part of it.”
“The Government hasn’t done the work and is letting Australia down, scrambling to negotiate a last-minute plan with the Nationals,” said Steggall. “We must act decisively in this next decade to set Australia up. There is a new wave of opportunity and we need leadership and commitment to be part of it. We need to set ambitious targets to drive investment and uptake in clean technologies. I call on the Morrison Government to pass the Bills without delay and go to COP26 with a strong responsible position on climate.”
Things got interesting in the House of Reps later that afternoon, when the call was made to suspend standing orders and bring on a motion to legislate net zero by 2050. The Government – including several moderate members who have been publicly championing net zero – voted unanimously against the motion. Leader of the House, Peter Dutton summed it up this way: “For stunts, leave is not granted.”
Sign Surfrider’s petition asking Federal Parliament to pass Zali Steggall’s Stopping PEP11 Bill.
Banner image – The Newcastle coastline, off which PEP11 is zoned. Photo: Jarrah Lynch.