opinion

EDITORIAL: Labor can show it won’t be held hostage by Greens

Editorial
The Nightly
In tonight’s show, Harvey explains why there isn’t enough potting mix in the world to make Labor’s Nature Positive policy fly.

Nature Positive is the policy hydra that just won’t die.

Every time you hack off one misguided thought bubble, another springs up in its place.

This time, it’s the Greens-backed climate trigger that appears back from the dead.

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Labor needs support from the crossbench to pass its laws to put in place a national environmental protection agency. That means the Government is courting the Greens, which are pushing for the inclusion of the trigger.

Essentially, it would mean that any major mining or gas project would need ministerial approval, in addition to the lengthy approvals processes already in place.

It would be yet another handbrake on the economy at a time when we should be shifting to the next gear.

Labor has never supported the inclusion of a climate trigger. But, as it looks around for ways to get its EPA legislation passed, its resistance to the idea appears to be weakening.

When asked by The Nightly to do so, Environmental Minister Tanya Plibersek did not rule out introducing a climate trigger. Instead, a spokeswoman for the minister said that in its current form, the legislation before Parliament did not include a trigger.

More details about the proposed new environment protection agency have emerged as Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek prepares to introduce legislation to establish the body.
Environmental Minister Tanya Plibersek did not rule out introducing a climate trigger. Credit: AAP/TheWest

In the careful language of politics, that’s a long way from a guarantee that a trigger is off the table.

Understandably, the industry is spooked.

They want an iron-clad guarantee. Projects that would fall to the mercy of a trigger involve millions and billions of dollars in investment. That these companies and investors need as much certainty as they can before sinking that kind of cash into a project is obvious.

In the past few months, Labor politicians have fallen over themselves to talk up their commitment to the gas industry.

As all sensible people involved in the energy game in Australia know, we need gas to help us reach our net zero goal by the 2050 deadline. We will need gas to help process the critical minerals for the solar panels and wind farms which will capture green energy, and the batteries with which to store it.

That means we need new projects to come online — projects that would fall foul of the climate trigger.

The irony is that by pushing for this ill-thought-out climate trigger, the Greens are imperilling not only the economy but our path to net zero as well.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA chief executive Rebecca Tomkinson said the “clarity vacuum” left by Nature Positive uncertainty was a threat to the viability to projects essential to the energy transition.

“For our industry, that uncertainty diverts internal resources and draws businesses away from the immediate key task of decarbonising the sector,” she said.

By ruling out a climate trigger — now and into the future — Labor has an opportunity to provide investors and industry with the certainty they need, and prove to voters they won’t be held hostage by the increasingly destructive Greens.

Otherwise, we’ll all be caught in the climate trigger’s crosshairs.

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