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Motion: Referring the Hydrogen & Renewable Energy Bill to a Select Committee

15 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (11:13): By leave, I move contingent notice of motion No. 3 in an amended form:

1. That the bill be referred to a select committee of the Legislative Council for inquiry and report.

2. That the committee consist of six members and that the quorum of members necessary to be present at all meetings of the committee be fixed at four members.

3. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

I have already outlined in my second reading speech the rationale for this committee, but to make it very clear to this council, the Greens have always been open-minded on the proposal that the government has put. Indeed, my default position when it was canvassed during the election was to be supportive in principle of the proposal, but we always said we wanted to see the detail. We did try over many months to get briefings with the government. We did eventually secure one and that was a welcome breakthrough for us, but it would have been good to have had the opportunity to dive into this bill in more detail.

That is why I will be moving to refer this on to a committee, so that there is an opportunity for the parliament to scrutinise in greater detail the implications of this bill. What are the implications for the environment? What are the potential implications for native title? What are the implications for our economy and do the benefits stack up? What do the individual provisions of the bill mean? How do they interact?

I think there is a dangerous precedent being established in this parliament; that is, when the government has big picture projects, they seek to rush them through with limited scrutiny. I really urge crossbenchers in considering this proposal to consider their role in this place. It is not the role of the crossbench to acquiesce to the government of the day. People do not vote for crossbench members because they want them to simply wave through the legislation the government presents. They vote for a crossbench because they want bills scrutinised.

This is not about trying to delay or stymie the government; it is about ensuring that we do our due diligence as a parliament and consider a significant proposal, so I urge crossbenchers in particular to turn their minds to their role when they consider this question.