Pages tagged "Energy and Mining"
01 June 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS:
The bill that I am moving today, the Mining (Environmental Impact of Private Mines) Amendment Bill, is an amendment to the Mining Act of 1971. For continuing members this is not a new bill. I introduced this back in the Fifty-Fourth Parliament, and I am bringing it back because it is a good idea to ensure that, when we are looking at private mines, the same obligations in terms of consultation apply and that the same rules in terms of respect for our environment apply.
It is very timely for me to put this bill forward at this time, because we know that the people of Bragg will soon face a by-election and this is a really important issue for that local community. Indeed, members may be familiar with the White Rock Quarry and the push to expand that and what that represents in terms of encroachment on private land and community amenity. It is a big issue in that community and I know people in that area will be watching this debate with great interest.
When I first introduced this bill back in the previous parliament I provided a bit of history in my second reading speech, and I will refer to that today. Back in 1971 private mines were exempt from the Mining Act, which means that, unlike other tenements under the Mining Act, a private mine cannot be forfeited, relinquished, suspended or cancelled and it does not expire. Private mines are antiquated. They are an old-fashioned scheme, and they have different legal protections to other mines in South Australia.
The Mining (Environmental Impact of Private Mines) Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Mining Act of 1971, to improve community consultation and ensure consideration of the environmental and health factors associated with private mines. So under the current act private mines are exempt from the broader definitions of the environment that commercial mineral operations are required to adhere to. I will read them into Hansard for the benefit of members. That is, other mines are required to consider the impact on:
(a) land, air, water…organisms, ecosystems, native fauna and other features or elements of the natural environment…cultural artefacts…existing or permissible land use…public health, safety or amenity…geological heritage values of an area…the aesthetic or cultural values of an area.
What this bill does is to remove that limited definition of 'environment' that exists specifically for private mines and, instead, ensures that the broader definition that applies for other forms of mining is so applied in this instance.
To give you a sense of the problem, there are approximately 222 private mines across South Australia, 136 of those are understood to be actively mined and 86 are inactive. That is as determined by their royalty returns. It really is time that we had a consistent regime and that is what this bill is seeking to provide.
10 February 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
- Notes the unanimous opposition of Barngarla traditional owners to the federal government's planned imposition of a national nuclear waste dump (repository and store) on farming land near Kimba on SA's Eyre Peninsula;
- Notes that Barngarla traditional owners were excluded from the federal government's 'community ballot', that federal parliament's Human Rights Committee found that the nuclear dump proposal is a violation of the Barngarla people's human rights, and that the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation has initiated a legal challenge against the declaration of the Kimba;
- Notes that the National Health and Medical Research Council's 'Code of practice for near-surface disposal of radioactive waste' states that agricultural land should not be used for a radioactive waste repository;
- Notes that an overwhelming majority of waste destined for the SA dump (measured by radioactivity) is long-lived intermediate level waste (including reactor fuel reprocessing waste) that will be stored above ground indefinitely;
- Notes that the SA Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act 2000 bans the import, transport, storage and disposal of nuclear wastes in SA; and
- Calls on the SA government to oppose the federal government's attempt to impose a national nuclear waste dump in SA and condemns the SA government for its failure to do so to date.
It is good to have the opportunity to talk about this issue, which is very important for the people of South Australia. The decision of the federal government late last year to dump nuclear waste in Kimba is a decision with profound implications for our state. South Australians could not have been clearer. We do not want a dangerous radioactive nuclear waste dump in our farming country and one that is imposed against the wishes of the Barngarla, the area's traditional owners.
From the get-go, the Greens have been steadfast in our opposition to SA becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste. There needs to be appropriate scrutiny of this decision, including at the very least a wideranging parliamentary inquiry to consider the implications of this decision not only for the community but for our pristine agricultural land.
What this decision will result in is the passage of radioactive waste through South Australia's regional roads, our streets and our waters for decades to come. A radioactive waste dump in the heart of our food bowl would put at risk our clean, green reputation and our state's key grain export industries.
According to the SA Conservation Council, the current plan would mean that Australia's highest rated radioactive waste, which needs to be kept isolated from human contact for 10,000 years, will be temporarily parked in above-ground shedding while the authorities work out where to build a permanent below-ground repository. So it is just going to be dumped there. The government says it will take decades, while the federal nuclear regulator says it could take a century.
One of the direct concerns that has been raised with Kimba relating to the site is the lack of Barngarla consent. The traditional owners do not want this. There has been a tightly managed consultation process—and I say 'consultation' because it has been a sham because it has excluded the wider Eyre Peninsula and the wider SA community. It is also unlawful. The federal plan is in direct contradiction with longstanding SA law. It is unnecessary.
The recent allocation of $60 million to extend secure waste storage at ANSTO in New South Wales means that there is simply no pressing need for this facility. However, there is also a lot of uncertainty around this. Key project details are missing, including what it means for the transport routes, emergency service capacity and the impact on the reputation of sensitive industries, including, of course, our agriculture and our tourism industries.
We have talked a lot over the last few days about the terrible impact the poor planning of the Liberal Party in relation to COVID and opening up the borders has had on our economy. Why on earth would we be risking more uncertainty for our economy in the middle of this crisis? Why would we be putting farmland at risk? We know that radioactive waste is extremely hazardous to people and to our environment. It can pollute water. It can kill wildlife. It can cause a number of deadly human health issues such as cancer.
The proposed double handling of intermediate level radioactive waste is inconsistent with international best practice. Alternatives should be canvassed here, especially given the Barngarla traditional owners were not only excluded from the federal government's community ballot but that the federal parliament's human rights committee found that the declaration of Kimba as the chosen site is in direct violation of the Barngarla people's human rights. It is a complete slap in the face to the traditional owners and it is a complete slap in the face to the people of South Australia who have consistently said they do not want SA to be the nation's nuclear waste dumping ground.
I think all South Australians would be interested to know whether or not the Marshall government has sought advice from the Crown Solicitor on the impacts of Kimba being selected as the nation's radioactive site—something that is in direct contradiction of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act of 2000, an act that was passed under the then Liberal Olsen government.
I think the honourable Treasurer would have been the only member of this place who was there at that time. Perhaps he would like to shed some light on whether he has sought advice on the implications of what the federal government is doing and what it means for that act. Perhaps he will shed some light on that when he comes to provide a contribution on behalf of the government during this debate. While the Greens recognise that responsible management of radioactive waste is of course needed, we do not support the current deeply flawed, unnecessary and divisive Kimba plan.
I had an opportunity to travel to Kimba during my time in the federal parliament. I travelled there with my then state parliamentary colleague, my predecessor in this place, the Hon. Mark Parnell, and Senator Scott Ludlam, who was the Greens' nuclear spokesperson. We met with traditional owners, we met with people in the local community. It is very clear to me from those interactions that there is not strong community support for this, that it was incredibly divisive in the community, and that people do not want to see their local community becoming the state's nuclear waste dumping ground. That is not what they want for their local community, and who could blame them?
Given that Barngarla traditional owners have launched a legal campaign to block the federal government's plans to build this nuclear waste dump, I want to assure the voters of South Australia that the Greens will continue to do what we can in this place to ensure that parliamentary scrutiny occurs and that the concerns of the Barngarla people are heard.
I want to put members on notice that I will be calling a division on this matter because I want to ensure that the views of the members of this place are put on the public record, so that as the voters of South Australia head to the polls in a few weeks' time they know who is in favour of the Liberal Party's radioactive agenda and who is against it and so that they know who in the crossbench will stand firm in support of environmental protection and who will roll over and acquiesce to the Liberal Party and their radioactive vision. It is an important test and I will be calling a division.
9 February 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on the Mining (Prohibition of Mining in Mount Lofty Ranges Watershed) Amendment Bill. This bill seeks to prohibit mining operations in the Mount Lofty Ranges, which would have a direct impact on the controversial proposal to establish a gold mine at the Bird in Hand site.
Farmers and locals of Woodside have been fighting against the establishment of the Terramin gold mine for years. The project proposes to reopen an old flooded gold mine on a plot of land next to the Bird in Hand Winery; 130 years ago, when the miners hit water, the flooding was a sentence for abandonment. In the time since that closure the surrounding area has become one of South Australia's most productive and vital farming areas. This area has seen the growth of generations of family businesses, which now produce hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for our state every year.
Contained in the area is also the headwaters for Onkaparinga River, which provides 60 per cent of Adelaide's water supply. This region rests on a fractured rock aquifer system that provides the water needed to sustain agricultural activity. With no mains water available, households are also dependent on the aquifer for their domestic purposes. Terramin will need to mine through this aquifer if they want to extract the gold. They propose tunnelling 450 metres deep, blasting directly under vines, wine-making and tourism infrastructure, and close to homes.
This proposed mine, which is set to open for only five years, will be operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, creating noise pollution, dust and a drastic increase in traffic movements per day. Most importantly, despite Terramin's reassurances, there is simply no way that they can ensure the health of this critical aquifer. Terramin's basic proposal is that they will need to pump out 400 megalitres of groundwater around their mine shaft to keep it dry, which they plan to treat and reinject at high pressure back underground.
Forcing a megalitre of water every day into a basin type aquifer is achievable, but fractured rock aquifers are very fragile and they are complex systems. It is almost impossible to know what is going on underground and where the water may end up. Rates of groundwater movement in fractured rock systems are incredibly difficult to quantify and any modelling relies on generalisations which prevent certainty. This raises serious questions and concerns about water levels and salinity.
Within five kilometres of the mine, there is a variety of crops and farming land. This includes strawberries, apples, wine grapes, but also beef, sheep, alpacas and horse studs. This mine represents a huge threat to the people in the area and their industries, to their businesses who are forecast to generate more than $800 million over the five-year lifespan of the mine, while employing over 800 people.
That is $800 million of revenue being put at risk, 800 jobs being put at risk, not to mention the viability of our farming land, our wine region and some of our pristine environment. Those people, those businesses, are the future of that region, not a nearsighted mining project. What projections exist then for the community against this project? What confidence can the community have that they are going to be protected and that these vital industries, industries that are so important to our state's economy, are protected?
During the recent review of South Australia's Mining Act, SA farmers lobbied very hard to get access provisions changed to provide greater protection for landowners and cultivated land from intrusive exploration and extractive mining. This, sadly, was to no avail. Their concerns and recommendations have been completely ignored by the Marshall government. Instead the government, with support of the opposition, endorsed new measures making it easier for miners to get access to cultivated land. That is an outrage.
The act is set up to benefit and preference the mining industry and not those who have been living on and using this land for generations. It is designed to facilitate mining. It is designed to facilitate private takeovers of public land and land that could be used to the benefit of all South Australians. Why on earth would we allow this risk to be taken with one of the most productive areas in the Hills? Why would we put the future of the Adelaide Hills wine region in doubt, with millions and millions of dollars of annual farmgate turnover at risk if this mine is given the green light?
It is time that this parliament took a clear stance against vested interests and stood up to these large corporations who are devouring our landscape. It is time for this parliament to say, 'Enough is enough.' It is time to back off and put the rights of farmers and small businesses and our environment first, not the vested interests of big polluters and those that seek to exploit our environment.
We are facing an economic crisis. We have talked a lot about that over the last few days following the decision of the Liberal Party to open up our state borders with woefully inadequate planning. We have seen an economic catastrophe befall our state, a huge hit on our economy and so many businesses struggling.
The last thing they need is more uncertainty, the last thing we need are other industries that provide such an important boost for our economy being put at risk because we are seeing the interests of large corporations being put ahead of the interests of the community. At this time of economic crisis, we simply cannot afford to take that risk. The Liberals have been reckless enough with our economy over the last few months and we cannot allow them to trash our farmland as well. I encourage all members of this place, including the Labor opposition, to show some backbone on this issue and to support the Greens' bill.
30 November 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the federal government announced that it has acquired more than 200 hectares of land near Kimba on Eyre Peninsula to build a nuclear waste storage facility, confirming the site, which is home to some of the country’s best agricultural land, and it was also recently announced as the Agricultural Town of the Year. The traditional owners, the Barngarla people, have been vehemently against this proposal from the beginning, with this announcement also at odds with South Australian law, under which this proposal is deemed illegal. My questions to the Treasurer, therefore, are:
- Has the government sought advice from the Crown Solicitor on the implications of Kimba being selected as the nation's radioactive site, which is in direct contravention of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000, an act which was passed under the former Liberal Olsen government, of which the Treasurer was a part?
- Given the government has announced Kimba as the 2021 Agricultural Town of the Year, are they concerned that their status as a thriving farming community will be compromised once this radioactive waste dump is established?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I am happy to refer the honourable member's questions to the Premier and/or other ministers and bring back a reply.
17 November 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I will speak very briefly, because I am conscious that we have a lot to get through tonight. I will not reprosecute the arguments, but the Greens will not be supporting the amendment from the government. I recognise, as I have done previously, the work of all sides of politics in this place in terms of taking action on climate. However, the purpose of this motion is not a collective backslapping exercise or some sort of celebration of the virtues of the Marshall government, as the honourable Treasurer has proposed. We do not share that assessment.
Indeed, the motion does call on the government to go further, to set meaningful targets for a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy for South Australia, and also calls on the government to block the ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission to allow networks to charge solar customers fees for exporting solar energy to the grid.
The honourable Treasurer has made the point that this issue was dealt with yesterday. My motion on notice was lodged some time ago, well before we dealt with yesterday's bill, which had been pushed back many times. This may provide an opportunity for members who perhaps made an error yesterday to think more carefully about their position and to remedy that today. That is always a positive thing.
Just to conclude, to sum up the contribution I made previously, this sun tax that is being proposed is going to allow networks the power to charge solar households in a way that was previously prohibited under the national energy rules. It has been argued that this is justified as necessary to fund required upgrades on the grid, but this is despite the fact that solar surges have been shown to occur at night and in areas of low solar uptake, and we are very concerned that these charges will unfairly impact those who in good faith have made long-term investments in renewables.
These are South Australians who are wanting to do the right thing, who are doing the right thing for our environment, and the Liberals want to stand by and allow them to be penalised. I do not wish to be divisive, as the honourable Treasurer has inferred, but when a party has got it wrong, when a government has got it wrong, we have to call it out. I urge members to support my original motion and to reject the amendment proposed by the honourable Treasurer.
27 October 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
- Affirms that renewable energy is the future of South Australia;
- Recognises the potential of rooftop solar to lower wholesale power prices for all consumers;
- Calls on the Marshall government to set meaningful targets for a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy for South Australia by:
(a.) rolling out community-scale batteries;
(b.) subsidising solar-panel and battery installation;
(c.) rolling out dynamic operating envelopes; and
- Calls on the Marshall government to block a ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission that allows networks to charge solar customers fees for exporting solar energy to the grid.
Back in August, the Australian Energy Market Commission ruled that distribution networks can now charge fees to solar homes and businesses to export their electricity. Known as the 'sun tax', this rule change will see networks given the power to charge solar households previously prohibited under the energy rules. This has been justified as necessary to fund required upgrades on the grid resulting from an excess of solar energy—at least this is the argument that has been put. That is despite the fact that solar surges have been shown to occur at night and in areas of very low solar uptake.
These changes will unfairly impact on those who in good faith have made long-term investments into renewables. We know that energy networks make significant profits so why is it that the cost burdens of future proofing the network is being passed on to a whole solar household, those who are already leading the way in trying to reduce their carbon footprint?
The cost for the distribution network should be shared among all generators including large multinational companies and fossil fuel generators, not just households. Australia's National Electricity Market's data showed energy contribution from renewables during 2020 in South Australia was the highest on record at 53 per cent, up from 7 per cent in 2019 and 5 per cent in 2018.
We need governments to encourage the uptake of rooftop solar, not penalise those who are doing the right thing for our environment, those who have already made this change. Despite both the Victorian and Queensland energy ministers stating their strong opposition to charging solar households in their states, our minister in South Australia has refused to follow suit and protect rooftop solar. Indeed, they have remained silent and in support of this solar tax.
South Australia's abundant wind and solar resources mean we are ideally suited to lead the nation and the world to a 100 per cent renewable energy future—a renewable-led recovery that would create jobs and tackle the climate change crisis and reduce energy prices. We know that as we transition away from coal and carbon we can create new jobs of the future in green innovation and renewable energy and we should be encouraging people to continue to switch to solar, not penalising those who are doing the right thing.
I do hope that members of this place will support this motion and send the Marshall government a clear message that they should be supporting those who are supporting our environment and they should be doing everything they can to reject this unfair solar tax.
8th September 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:59):
This bill relates to the regulation of private mines and seeks to impose a similar regulation for private mines to other mines. By way of background, in 1971 private mines were exempt from the Mining Act, which means, unlike other tenements under the Mining Act, a private mine cannot be fortified, relinquished, suspended or cancelled and it does not expire. Private mines are antiquated; they are an old-fashioned scheme and they have very different legal protections to other mines in South Australia. I think most residents would be alarmed by the idea that you can have a private mine pushing up into your landscape, devouring that landscape and destroying your amenity.
The Mining (Environmental Impact of Private Mines) Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Mining Act of 1971 to improve community consultation and ensure consideration of the environmental and health factors associated with private mines. I think this is something that the community really expects.
Under the current act, private mines are exempt from the broader definitions of 'environment' that the commercial mineral operations are required to adhere to; that is, the impact on, and I quote directly from the act:
- (a) land, air, water (including both surface and underground water and sea water), organisms, ecosystems, native fauna and other features or elements of the natural environment; and
- (b) buildings, structures and other forms of infrastructure, and cultural artefacts; and
- (c) existing or permissible land use; and
- (d) public health, safety or amenity; and
- (e) the geological heritage values of an area; and
- (f) the aesthetic or cultural values of an area.
This bill simply removes the limited definition of 'environment' that exists specifically for private mines within that act and instead ensures the broader definition that exists for other mining operations in South Australia, which, importantly, includes cultural heritage, is applied. I do not think this is controversial. My view is private mines should not exist in 21st century Australia; it is an antiquated concept. But this bill does not abolish those private mines. It is a simple amendment that ensures that these mines are no longer considered a protected species when it comes to their environmental footprint.
Currently, there are approximately 222 private mines across South Australia, 186 of those are understood to be actively mined and 86 are inactive, as determined from the royalty returns. An example of the challenges the community face when they are facing off against private mines wanting to expand their operations is the White Rock Quarry in the Adelaide Hills. Despite being a bit of a tongue twister, it is also a huge dilemma for the people of that area because it has impacted on their capacity to enjoy their neighbourhood and we know that it poses significant health consequences.
While Hanson were recently informed that they would be required to revise their mining operation plan and resubmit to the Department for Environment and Water within six months, we in the Greens remain very concerned that the environmental objectives that they are currently assessed against as private mines will not take into consideration the cultural value of the site. I think that is really appalling.
This bill will not only ensure that the impact of cultural heritage is part of any approved plan, but also that the impact of the mining operations on the health and safety of the population in the vicinity of the private mine is taken into consideration. It is high time that this parliament took a strong stance against vested interests, stood up to these large corporations that are devouring our landscape and said, 'Enough is enough. Back off. Move away from private residences and put the community's health and wellbeing first and put our environment first at this time of climate crisis.'
I think all members of our community would be rightly concerned about these private mines that are devouring our landscape and they want to ensure that there are appropriate controls put in place and that is precisely what this bill does. I commend it.
23 June 21
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:58): I move:
That this council—
1. Notes with concern the proposed expansion of the White Rock Quarry in Horsnell Gully and the impact that this will have on health, the environment and air quality for residents in the Adelaide Hills.
2. Notes the risks posed by the toxic respirable crystalline silica dust that is lifted into the air by blasting.
3. Further notes that the South Australian Environment Protection Agency (EPA) does not specify separation distances in their guidelines for the operation of quarries containing silicates, and where the activity includes blasting.
4. Calls on the Minister for Energy and Mining and the Minister for Environment and Water to heed the concerns of the Residents Against White Rock Quarry, and
(a) reject Hanson Australia’s revised mine operations plan for the expansion of White Rock Quarry; and
(b) amend the current EPA guidelines to ensure minimum separation distances from residential properties.
This motion seeks to express concern at the proposed expansion of the White Rock Quarry in Horsnell Gully and the impact that this will have on the health, the environment and the air quality for residents in the Adelaide Hills. It notes the health risks of that. It calls on the minister to address deficiencies within the EPA protections and it calls for the Minister for Energy and Mining and the Minister for Environment and Water to listen to the concerns of the residents, to reject the revised mine operations plan for the expansion of the mine and to amend the EPA guidelines to ensure minimum separation distances from residential properties.
On 23 September 2020, Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group submitted a revised mine operation plan for the expansion of the White Rock Quarry, and this has been met with significant community opposition. There are lots of concerns that the residents hold, relating to community health, the environment and the air quality of the surrounding areas. The Greens stand with the community in opposing this expansion. We are calling on the government to reject this mine operation plan and instead back the community campaign for minimum distance requirements for private mines.
We know that the impact on the health and wellbeing of the community will be profound. Private mines should not be devouring our public landscape in this way. We should not see private mines in the Adelaide Hills pushing up against residential properties in this way. We are calling for the Minister for Energy and Mining and the Minister for Environment and Water to listen to the community's concerns and take action. It is not sufficient to simply go along to community meetings and nod sympathetically. People need the government to step up and back their interests against the interests of private corporations like the Hanson Group.
The Attorney-General spoke at the public meeting that I attended a few weeks ago. She spoke about distance requirements already being in existence within the EPA. The EPA evaluation distance guidelines in South Australia offer a very subjective individual assessment recommendation in terms of separation distances, and they do not mention the issue of respirable silica dust or blasting activities in this context.
If we look at what other jurisdictions are doing, they have a better system. The Northern Territory EPA separation distance guidelines recommend a buffer of 600 metres for qualifying activities with respirable silica crystalline present and a buffer of 500 metres from blasting activities. EPA Victoria has the 'Recommended separation distances for industrial residual air emissions' guideline, which has a delineation accounting for the presence of silica dust and blasting activities. There is no mention of silica dust in the SA EPA guidelines.
The proposed flattening of Mount Skye has many locals really concerned about what is going to happen to them and their community's health. They are concerned about the spread of silica dust and the potential risk of silicosis. Who can blame them, when one considers the appalling and deleterious health impacts that can flow from exposure to this dust?
There are other concerns for the community as well, though. Those concerns relate to air quality, noise, plants, the impact on cultural heritage, visual amenity and rehabilitation. In light of these concerns, I understand the government has informed Hanson Group Australia that more information is required and that the Department for Energy and Mining have indicated in the media that they will be requesting more information from the corporation.
We know what happens when private corporations are allowed to ride roughshod over our environment and community concerns. We saw the disgusting destruction by Rio Tinto of a cultural site, all for their own corporate greed. It is really important that a cultural heritage assessment is being conducted in relation to White Rock Quarry so that we can ensure that no culturally significant land is going to be impacted.
I think there is a real issue with these private mines. They are antiquated, they are an old-fashioned scheme, they have different legal protections to other mines in South Australia, and I think most residents would be alarmed by the idea that you could have a private mine pushing up into their landscape, devouring their landscape, destroying their amenity, and that we could see these mines in metropolitan South Australia.
It is high time that this parliament took a strong stance against vested interests, stood up to these large corporations that are devouring our landscape and said, 'Enough is enough. Back off, move away from private residences,' and put the community's health and wellbeing first and put our environment first at this time of climate crisis. I hope that all parties will come on board and support this motion.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.
The White Rock Quarry expansion threatens our environment and community health. The Greens stand with the community in opposing this expansion, and will do everything we can to ensure the Minister for Mining and Energy and the Minister for Environment and Water heed the concerns of the residents in the Adelaide Hills, and reject this revised private mine operation.
The Greens moved a motion calling on the Government to reject the expansion plans and back minimum distance requirements for private mines, and also introduced a Private Members Bill to amend the Mining Act to improve community consultation and ensure consideration of the environmental and health factors associated with private mines.
On 23 September 2020, Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group submitted a revised mine operation plan for the expansion of the White Rock Quarry, and this has been met with significant community opposition. There are concerns relating to community health, the environment and the air quality of the surrounding areas, and the Greens are calling on the government to reject this mine operation plan and instead back the community campaign for minimum distance requirements for private mines.
Private mines antiquated, they are an old-fashioned scheme, they have different legal protections to other mines in South Australia, and most residents would be alarmed by the idea that you could have a private mine pushing up into their landscape, devouring their landscape, and destroying their amenity.
It is high time that this parliament took a strong stance against vested interests, stood up to these large corporations that are devouring our landscape and said, 'Enough is enough. Back off, move away from private residences,' and put the community's health and wellbeing first and put our environment first at this time of climate crisis.
9 June 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:13): I move:
That this council—
1. Supports a Green New Deal for South Australia.
2. Notes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for South Australians, starting with drought and bushfires, and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Further notes that increasing unemployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate change and rising economic inequality, are key challenges facing South Australians into the future.
4. Calls on the Marshall Government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in:
(a) publicly owned renewable energy and storage projects to address climate change;
(b) social housing to help end homelessness;
(c) employing more educators, healthcare workers, nurses and social support workers to ensure all South Australians have access to the care they need;
(d) the expansion of the public transport network to reduce congestion and decrease emissions;
(e) reviving our CBD precinct to support local businesses;
(f) creative industries and the arts; and
(g) care for country and culture.
This motion is calling on this council to support a Green New Deal for South Australia and calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in a range of measures that would help fight the climate crisis and rising inequality in our state. South Australia should be leading the way with a Green New Deal to change our state for the better. People are angry and anxious because the government has no plan for the big problems that are facing our state. We need to see ambitious and innovative ideas from our leaders and the Green New Deal will do just that.
Many in this place will be familiar with the term 'a Green New Deal'. It was first coined by US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and essentially creates a bold agenda calling for government action on climate change along with the other social aims of job creation and reducing economic inequality.
What would a Green New Deal mean for South Australia? What would it look like? Many different groups have started to consider how we could harness a green recovery to address some of the biggest issues facing our state and our nation. To put it simply, a Green New Deal is a plan of investment and action to build a clean green economy.
The last 18 months have seen South Australia's economy take a significant hit. From the devastating bushfires that have ravaged parts of our state and the continued impact of the global pandemic to the highest unemployment levels in the country and the ever-present threat posed by the climate crisis, it is clear that now is the time for bold innovative new plans for our great state.
With the state budget just weeks away, and the last one before the 2022 election, I am calling on the government and this parliament to seize the opportunity to rethink our economy and to spend big on new projects and programs that would create green jobs and address the important challenges of our age.
I talked about the fact that this motion is calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan for investing in a range of different measures. One of those, of course, must be publicly owned renewables in South Australia. South Australia's abundant wind and solar resources mean that we are ideally suited to lead the nation and the world with 100 per cent renewable energy, and we should do that by 2025. A renewable-led recovery will create the jobs we need, it will tackle climate change and reduce energy prices.
The Greens' vision for South Australia is one that will make the most of our state's skills in manufacturing and create new jobs for the future, and we know that as we transition away from coal and carbon we can create new jobs in green innovation and renewable energy. We should harness the skills of our state's manufacturing industry for the development of new technologies, things like cutting-edge renewables, light rail and electric cars, and we should be making those things in South Australia.
It is regrettable, of course, that we saw the previous federal Liberal government, led by Tony Abbott, totally deprioritise the support for the automotive industry in South Australia, and really we should be trying to kickstart that industry with new investment so that it can start manufacturing electric cars in a significant way.
We also need a Green New Deal so that we can tackle homelessness and the housing crisis. One of the most pressing issues in this state at the moment is homelessness and housing affordability. We need a housing system that is about people, not profit. Homelessness is not inevitable. We can solve it. Everybody has a right to a roof over their head and a place to call home. It is not acceptable to simply say it is inevitable for people to sleep on the street or that people are going to be sleeping in tents. We need to see leadership from government to ensure that we invest in the housing that we need.
We have seen some wonderful strategies recommended by the Adelaide Zero Project, but we need more of an investment from the government. This is not a quick fix, but we need a long-term housing strategy that will end homelessness in our state. Housing, after all, is a human right. To end homelessness, we need to provide homes for tens of thousands of people on the waiting list, and we can do this by building housing, creating jobs and ensuring that nobody is discharged into homelessness.
As part of a Green New Deal, we need to also consider what we can do to make our society a caring society. The implementation of a Green New Deal is not just about green jobs and the green economy. It is also about investing in other types of work, particularly those types of industries that are traditionally female dominated.
Through the pandemic, we have seen just how essential our caring professions are for our communities, from our healthcare professionals who continue to work on the frontline, to our educators who adapted with flexible teaching arrangements to the pandemic, to our community service workers who continue to support the most vulnerable people in our society. We need to ensure that they are remunerated properly, and we need to ensure that they are supported with more funding so that they can employ more workers.
We also need as part of a Green New Deal to deal with expanding our public transport network. Bigger roads are not the answer to traffic congestion. We in the Greens have a different vision. We need a well-funded and well-functioning public transport system that gets people where they need to go quickly, reliably, safely and cheaply. We need greater investment in bikes and walking infrastructure that will give South Australians the freedom to choose riding or walking as a safe, easy option and to leave their cars at home.
A few weeks ago, I introduced a bill to establish a walking and cycling commissioner to encourage walking and cycling as modes of transport in our state, to promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of this, and to prepare and to promote strategies to make walking and cycling inclusive for everybody in South Australia. It is really regrettable, I think, that we have not seen the investment in cycling infrastructure that we need in South Australia, in particular, in the City of Adelaide.
Sadly, the City of Adelaide has spent over $400,000 on planning the east-west bikeway only to knock it on the head under the leadership of Alex Hyde from the conservative wing of the Liberal Party that dominates town hall. I think that is really regrettable because South Australians, in particular people in the City of Adelaide, are desperate for cycling infrastructure to be rolled out. A Green New Deal would not only fund more bike lanes in the CBD area, it would also encourage greater use of public transport through free or subsidised tickets. This would not only help reduce congestion in the city, it would also encourage more people to come back into our CBD, which would be a positive knock-on effect for local businesses that are currently struggling.
We know that our CBD has been hard hit by this pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many city-based employees are still working from home. A Green New Deal would ensure that we prioritise a plan that continues to enliven the city, extending the free wi-fi network, supporting entrepreneurs, growing small bars and live music, and setting some clear renewable energy targets for the city.
I know that a number of small businesses in the CBD are struggling and will be very alarmed by the Marshall government's plans to deregulate shop trading hours. They will be very alarmed that they are not going to be able to compete with Coles and Woolies and the big players, and that that is going to punish them and damage their business. The Greens certainly stand with them in that struggle.
As part of a Green New Deal, we need to look at creative industries. Creative industries are the engine room of our economy, and yet they were the first industry directly hit by the impacts of the pandemic. In the last 18 months, we have seen our cultural and creative sectors suffer enormous damage due to restrictions on public gatherings and performances and exhibitions that were cancelled in the interests of public health. Of course, I make no criticism of the government for doing that—it was necessary in terms of a public health response—but we do need to ensure that our arts sector is now supported in the days ahead because that has had a significant impact.
The knock-on effect of this has been substantial for our broader South Australian community, and for our economy, not least the many thousands of people who are employed in related industries that are driven so strongly by the arts here in our state. Those industries include tourism, hospitality, regional affairs and community businesses—all these things rely on a thriving, creative industry.
While South Australia has fared fairly well, and we can consider the success of things like the Adelaide Fringe Festival earlier this year, we must not lose sight of the fact that the disappearance of the Australian creative sector will have a major social, economic and cultural impact on our state both in the short and the long term. We know that the arts community have not been eligible for federal government support through JobKeeper, so that means they have been really hard hit by this pandemic.
Finally, a Green New Deal would also look at how we can care for country and culture. When I talk about caring for country, I am talking about First Nations people's approaches to land and water management. For First Nations people, it is increasingly documented that caring for country is linked to maintaining cultural life, identity, autonomy and health. The diverse environmental activities to which First Nations people contribute have positive outcomes for climate mitigation, biodiversity monitoring, the protection of endangered species, landscape health and more. It is for exactly that reason that a Green New Deal is really important because it would ensure that this knowledge and experience is at the forefront of policy and decision-making.
This is our chance to start thinking about how we can reshape our state, how we can create a fairer and more sustainable South Australia, how we can become a productive leader and how we can be a state that actually tackles the climate crisis and ensures that everybody has what they need to live a happy and healthy life.
We need to think differently. That has been one of the lessons of the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. We need to think differently and now is the time for us to do that. Now is the time for us to commit to a Green New Deal. South Australia can create a cleaner, fairer future for all of us, and I urge all members of this council to support the motion.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood.