Labor face huge test to fix broken environment laws with climate trigger as largest coal mine approval looms


Key Points: 

Federal Labor face a huge test this year to fix Australia’s broken environment laws as Queensland Labor approves the Winchester South Whitehaven coal mine. The project will now go to Minister Tanya Plibersek for final approval.

On the same afternoon, the Senate has published a dissenting report recommending a climate trigger, and Essential polling reveals 3 in 4 Australians want environment law to protect the environment from the impacts of climate change. 

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is Greens Spokesperson for the Environment and manager of business in the Senate:

“Queensland Labor has just given one of Australia’s largest new coal mines the green light.

“This is now a test for the Federal Environment Minister who must decide on the final approval. 

“The ball is in Minister Plibersek’s court. The decision is now on her desk.

“We need new environment laws that stop new coal mines from further damaging our climate and nature. Which is why the Greens are fighting for a Climate Trigger.

“Relying on Labor Ministers to do the right thing is clearly not enough. We need laws that protect our environment from fossil fuel pollution and greed. 

“The Greens draft laws would fix this, we urge the Government to work with us so dirty coal mines like this are stopped in their tracks. 

“Labor face a huge test this year - will they fix our broken environment law to stop new coal, gas and native forest logging projects or not? 

“In 2024, it is ludicrous that the Environment Minister can give environmental approval to projects that wreck our climate and destroy our forests.

“New polling reveals 3 in 4 Australians agree our current environment laws are broken and should tackle climate change. On this issue public opinion, the world’s scientists, and the Greens are all saying the same thing.

“Australia’s environment laws are broken if they allow the approval of new coal, gas and native forest logging.

“The Greens Bill for a climate trigger will close this loophole and I encourage Minister Plibersek to work constructively to pass it. Every time the Minister approves a new coal, gas or native forest logging project the climate and extinction crises get worse.

“It would be environmentally and politically damaging for Labor to go to the next election without a real plan to fix these laws.”

Further Background

  • The Senate has today release a dissenting report recommending a Climate Trigger/Test in environment law

  • New polling shows 3 in 4 Australians want environment law to protect the environment from climate change. Polling was conducted by Essential, commissioned by the Climate Council.

  • Winchester South is Australia’s biggest proposed new greenfield coal mine. Whitehaven Coal plans to mine up to 17 million tonnes of coal each year for 28 years, producing 583 million tonnes of CO2e emissions, more than Australia’s total annual emissions in 2022.

  • Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has promised to fix Australia’s broken environment laws this year

  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese himself introduced a Climate Trigger Bill 20 years ago in 2005; the climate crisis is much worse today.