Senator Rice criticises government over Adani


Australia is at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to be smart, to be making wise choices, to be heading for a clean, green, prosperous future, but this government is leading us down the wrong path. Instead of saying 'yes' to clean, renewable energy, the Turnbull government is sticking with dirty, polluting coal. Instead of planning for a transition to long-term jobs that assure regional communities a future—the regional communities across the country, including in Queensland—this government is sticking with a dying business model that is leaving people high and dry. Instead of protecting our precious Great Barrier Reef, the Turnbull government is choosing to destroy this precious natural wonder. And, instead of taking note of the structural decline of coal worldwide, this government is backing a losing industry.

Coal is in decline. It is an industry from last century and the century before. We need to usher it out gracefully, plan the transition and look after the workers that are currently working in the coal industry, instead of propping it up. Instead of doing this, instead of listening to local groups across Australia, who are hitting the streets and who are talking to their MPs, this government is only bending to the vested interests. What a diabolical path to lead us all down. What is more, this government's support for the Adani coalmine is being backed by Labor. For all of the talk of Senator McAllister about being concerned about climate, we know the Adani mine is the biggest issue on the Australian agenda, in terms of tackling climate change, that we face. This mega coalmine, which is being pushed by Labor and defended by Labor, as it was just then—a Queensland Labor plan, backed by the Turnbull government—is a certain road to disaster. It is going to spew out 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon and absolutely wipe out any carbon reductions that Australia would otherwise make. As Senator Roberts told us, it is the key to unlocking global climate catastrophe because of the number of other mines that opening this mine would then make possible.

I really want to pay tribute to the many hardworking campaigners who are rallying huge support behind the Stop Adani campaign, and, in particular, I pay tribute to the young people who are taking action and are standing up for a safe, clean future when the government is so badly steering us on a dangerous path. People are coming together and are saying no to a dirty, coal fired future. Australians want a future society and economy that is based on renewable energy. I hear from people across Victoria and across the country that they understand that their kids' and grandkids' future is severely compromised if we leave them a damaged and desperate world that is destroyed by a legacy of polluting, climate-wrecking coal, not to mention the financial legacy of handing over $1 billion to prop up the mine. What a travesty. This is our money. We need to spend it on infrastructure that is going to take us towards a zero-carbon future, not take us in the completely opposite direction.

I spend a lot of time in my place arguing for people to be put back into the infrastructure planning processes. This whole debacle exemplifies the problem where big private companies' interests are put before people. The government has absolutely no time for anyone or anything but its billionaire coal mates. There is the proposed funding for a rail line for Adani while the government is simultaneously ignoring the neglected and failing public transport networks in our cities and towns.

Labor needs to take a stand on this. Labor needs to rule out supporting this mine. We are you, Bill Shorten? Who do you stand with? Senator Chisholm and Senator McAllister, does Labor stand for jobs that do not kill workers via black lung and industries that do not kill the reef? Does Labor stand for clean groundwater for Queensland? Labor needs to rule out supporting this mine. There is so much at stake—too much at stake—for the old parties to be blindly stumbling ahead, backing the vested interests.