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Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Energy Resources) Amendment Bill

16 November 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:29): I welcome the opportunity to speak again on gas week, or energy week, as it has become. It is the theme of the week.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: There is a lot of hot air in here, as the honourable member accurately observes. There is a lot of gaslighting that has been happening in this chamber this week and a lot of greenwashing as well.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Energy Resources) Amendment Bill. The bill makes amendments to the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. The name of the act will be changed to the energy resources act as I understand it will cover resources such as geothermal resources, naturally forming hydrogen, underground coal gasification, carbon dioxide, and carbon capture and storage.

Produced hydrogen and renewable energy are dealt with under the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill, which we discussed at length into the late hours last night. The bill inserts some provisions that require licensee holders to undertake engagement with stakeholders in preparing environmental impact reports and statements of environmental impacts.

The bill also introduces rent for the use of the state's natural reservoirs to store regulated substances, such as carbon. Under the bill, I understand that rent will only be applicable to imported substances but does not require a rent to be paid for locally produced substances. What we are talking about here is carbon capture storage. Carbon capture occurs when a material, such as methane or hydrogen, is extracted from underground leaving a cavity in its place. The idea is then to replace resultant carbon in the space that is left behind.

The Greens are not supportive of carbon capture storage, as we are concerned that this is a delaying tactic for the coal and gas industry to justify fossil fuel projects. It is a form of greenwashing and it gives a social licence to fossil fuel industries. According to the Climate Council, carbon capture storage is a licence to ramp up emissions. Around the world, carbon capture storage projects are being built to allow for continued oil and gas production.

In Australia, the coal and gas industry is pushing for CCS so it has a licence to keep its polluting project going, not because it wants to cut emissions—that is the view of the Climate Council. Greg Bourne, an energy expert at the Climate Council, has also said:

Carbon capture and storage is not a climate solution but rather an expensive attempt to prolong the role of fossil fuels in the energy system… right now the Government needs to be focused on building a resilient, renewable economy, not throwing taxpayer dollars at fossil fuel producers and failed technology.

In our briefing on this bill, we were advised that Japan and Korea are looking for places to store their carbon. This bill proposes to charge those places rent for disposing of polluting by-products, but it exempts local producers who are doing the same thing. Therefore, I will be moving amendments to ensure that local companies have to pay for the storage as well as any imported carbon. It is important that we put a price on the storage of carbon that comes as a result of extractive industries.

It is the Greens' policy to stop using fossil fuels, stop the greenwashing that we see from the coal and gas industry, and stop the continuation of non-renewable energy. It is appropriate to charge a levy for storage of carbon, even though we are not supportive of carbon capture itself as a technology.

Indeed, as I speak today, I know that there are students sitting on the steps of this place calling on the government to take action on climate, and I had the opportunity to meet with them earlier today and earlier in the week. These young people know that we need to do better for our environment. We need to stop using fossil fuels as a way to power South Australia. We need to commit to renewable energy for the future and we do not want to see the prolonged use of technologies that rely on fossil fuels.

Whilst we will be supporting this bill, we will be moving amendments to ensure that any carbon capture has a price tag applied to it at a local level as well as at an international level, and the Greens of course will continue to campaign for action on this important area. I do urge the government to give favourable consideration to this amendment. We know that they are in the pocket of the gas industry. We know that they are the political arm of the gas industry in this place. They are absolutely in their pocket.

I urge them to show some leadership when it comes to addressing the climate crisis, not to simply do as the Minister for Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, has said, 'Roll out the red carpet for gas. Come on down. Whatever you want, we're here to help you.' Show some leadership and let's start cracking down on these dirty polluting industries.