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National Energy Laws (gas pipelines)

17 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am speaking today on behalf of the Greens on the Statutes Amendment (Natural Energy Laws) (Gas Pipelines) Bill. The bill before us will simplify the regulatory framework for gas pipelines, increase market competition and improve transparency. The Greens' position on gas will be very clear to everybody in this place. We are in a climate emergency and we know that is caused by burning fossil fuels and we need to phase out the use of natural gas.

At this year's COP 27, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, provided a stark warning to the world, claiming that we are on a 'highway to climate hell'. Fossil fuels such as natural gas have been a major contributor to climate change. We need to urgently switch to renewable energies such as solar, wind and green hydrogen.

I want to recognise the Malinauskas government's significant investment in green hydrogen in this state—at least this is something that I understand they are planning to act on during this term. Of course, the Greens are supportive of moves towards clean, green renewable fuel, but in this transition to green hydrogen we need to ensure that the pipeline infrastructure is well regulated and transparent.

This bill refers to natural gas, which is something that is of concern to the Greens. Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel comprised of matter that has decomposed over millions of years. The extraction and burning of natural gas is harmful to our environment and our health. In fact, the extraction of natural gas damages our farming land, water table and land stability. It is harmful to our health, and up to 12 per cent of childhood asthma is a result of cooking with so-called natural gas. To address the climate crisis and protect our environment and health, we must urgently put a stop to all new natural gas projects.

We have been advised that there has been agreement by the national energy ministers to bring a future bill to change the wording in legislation to expand the definition to include future fuels such as green hydrogen. While we are disappointed that such a definition has not been included by the government in this bill, we are supportive of that change and look forward to future legislation being introduced in that regard.

The bill before us today provides for a greenfields incentive determination, which will be available to service providers prior to the commissioning of new pipelines. The Greens do not support greenfields gas developments for natural gas, but we do acknowledge that there will need to be new infrastructure to supply and distribute green hydrogen.

The Greens are supporting this bill with the understanding that gas infrastructure is required to support the green hydrogen industry. We also anticipate the changes of wording to ensure that future green gas options are defined in the national energy law rather than simply referring to traditional gas, methane gas, one which we know locks us into serious damage to our environment and indeed our health. With that, I conclude my remarks.