Greens link passage of EV laws to Labor’s gas fast-track bill


The Greens have warned that a new Labor bill to fast-track gas projects, which the Treasurer said this week was a change sought by Peter Dutton, threatens to be a roadblock in the passage of the government's fuel efficiency standards legislation. The new gas legislation allows the Resources Minister, Madeline King, to effectively bypass decisions made by the Environment Minister and consultation with First Nations owners by fast-tracking gas projects, and is before a Senate inquiry on Thursday. 

The Greens have linked the passage of the government's preferred option for vehicle efficiency standards to Labor’s controversial new bill to fast-track gas projects, accusing the Labor government of greenwashing and sabotaging the work of climate-conscious citizens by opening new gas fields that wipe out emissions reductions from electric cars or solar panels.

The Albanese Government has now introduced two pieces of legislation to facilitate Santos’ Barossa Gas field, which is currently sitting on Minister Plibersek’s desk. First Nations owners have strongly opposed the project. The Treasurer this week admitted that the latest changes to bypass First Nations and environment protections were aimed at getting the Liberals to support changes to separate Petroleum Resource Rent Tax legislation.

If approved, the 380 million tonnes of pollution from Barossa will more than wipe out the entire benefit of the government’s EV policy, which is 369Mt of reduction by 2050. After Barossa, there are 116 other coal and gas projects in the pipeline.

The move to fast track Barossa and sideline First Nations’ voices comes as official government emissions data shows Labor is not on track to meet even its own weak 2030 climate targets, with gas industry emissions increasing and wiping out gains made from emissions reduction in the electricity sector.

Labor’s law to fast-track new gas projects comes after the Coalition said the changes were a requirement for passage of separate PRRT legislation, and after gas giant Santos wrote to the Resources Minister complaining that new gas projects were being held up by First Nations owners refusing consent and objecting to the projects in court.

The Government is expected to come under fire for these changes at a Senate Economics Committee inquiry into the Bill on Thursday, with Senator Dorinda Cox to grill the government on the changes in Canberra.

The Greens have written to the Prime Minister saying that if he stops the naked power grab from Resources Minister Madeline King, the Greens will back the government’s new vehicle efficiency standards without amendment, even though the Greens’ position is for much tougher fuel efficiency laws.

Lines attributable to Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP:

“Labor are climate charlatans. People are doing the right thing by putting up solar panels and buying electric cars, but Labor’s spitting in their faces and fast-tracking new gas mines that undo everyone else’s good work,” Mr Bandt said.

“Instead of strengthening environment laws like they promised, Labor’s weakening them and cutting a dirty deal with the Liberals. This is a massive broken climate promise.

“Gas is as dirty as coal and Labor’s own figures show that pollution from gas is rising, wiping out the gains made from people switching to renewables. 

“Labor approving just one new big gas mine would wipe out all the climate gains from its electric vehicle plan, the equivalent of ripping solar panels off four million Australian roofs.

“Labor must stop opening new coal and gas mines. You can’t put the fire out while pouring petrol on it. 

“If the Prime Minister stops the Resource Minister’s power grab to fast-track new gas mines, the Greens will pass Labor’s electric vehicle standards without amendment, even though we’d like to see them go much further.”

Lines attributable to Senator Dorinda Cox, Greens spokesperson for First Nations and Resources:

”Labor’s first move after the Voice referendum is to silence First Nations voices who are trying to stop climate-destroying gas projects on their Country,” Senator Cox said.

“The government’s consultation with First Nations communities is already woefully inadequate, and this will just make it easier for massive fossil fuel projects to destroy 65,000 years of culture with the government’s go-ahead. 

“With government doing the bidding of their fossil fuel donors, First Nations people will fight these destructive projects via whatever means we can. We have already had two court cases on the Barossa and Scarborough gasfields that will destroy cultural heritage, Country and the climate, and the government’s attempt to further shut out First Nations voices will just step up these fights in the courts and on Country.

“The environmental approvals process for gas already has massive legislative loopholes that allow projects to go ahead without declaring First Nations people as relevant people. We should be closing these loopholes, not opening up more.”

Lines attributable to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for the Environment:

“Labor can either work with the Greens to pass laws which actually protect the environment, or they can do a dodgy deal with Peter Dutton and the gas lobby to trash the environment,” Senator Hanson-Young said