Labor wins Reef climate change motion, but remained silent on Adani and coal

August 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Vote on Adani in HoR: Cathy McGowan, Adam Bandt, Andrew Wilkie vote to #stopAdani. Photo via @WilkieMP

The Liberal National Party government lost a motion in the House of Representatives of our Federal Parliament yesterday. Amid all this crisis over dual citizenship and section 44 of the constitution that has now embroiled Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, the Government were unable to muster the numbers and lost 61 votes against to 69 votes in favour. Read the full story at Climate Home.

The motion was on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2017. The passage of the Bill provided an opportunity for amendments from both Labor and the Greens.

While Labor’s amendment highlighted the government’s failure to protect the Great Barrier reef from Climate Change, it was silent on the threat of the Adani coal project opening up the Galilee Basin (Read David Holmes on Australia’s climate bomb: the senselessness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine), and other new mines such as Glencore’s Wandoan mine in the Surat basin that has just been approved by the Queensland Labor Government.

The Greens amendment, while much briefer, specifically highlighted the connection between Adani coal mine, global warming and it’s threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

Labor party moved the the following motion:

“…the House notes that:

(1) the Government is failing to protect Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef by:

(a) failing to act on climate change;

(b) supporting the Liberal National Party in Queensland in blocking reef protections aimed at halting the broad scale clearing of trees and remnant vegetation; and

(c) winding back ocean protection, put in place by Labor, around Australia and specifically in the Coral Sea; and

(2) this Government cannot be trusted to protect the Great Barrier Reef and fight for Australia’s unique environment.”

Greens MP Adam Bandt (Melbourne) then moved that this be amended:

That all the words after “notes” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
“that global warming is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and calls on the Government to immediately take all available steps to stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine”

This amendment was lost. Here is Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie take on this vote:

The Labor amendemnt was then put and was passed.

This defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives is a minor embarrassment for the Government. But it highlights that the Labor Party has still not come to terms with the enormous damage that our export coal sector is doing to the global climate.

So due to the government numbers, the Coalition were later able to overturn the Labor amendment on the reef. Labor then moved a suspension of standing orders to debate the reef but it was lost.

The Liberal National parties govern on a knife edge with a majority of one. Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce was confirmed to be citizen of New Zealand by descent (from his New Zealand born father). Nominally as a New Zealand citizen under section 44 of the constitution he was ineligible to nominate and to be elected to the Australian parliament, though the High Court will adjudicate on his case and others in coming weeks.

The two Greens Senators who fell foul of S44 took the ethical stance and immediately resigned. National Senator Senator Matt Canavan, whose mother registered him as an Italian citizen without telling him, has stood aside from his ministerial duties. But the same standards have not been applied to the Deputy PM.

There is a real possibility Joyce could be declared as ineligible in which case a bi-election will be needed for his seat of New England, and in the meantime the government will lose it’s working majority and need to rely on the Independents for support in the House of Representatives.

Wills MP Peter Khalil on Great Barrier Reef vote and Adani

So where did Wills MP Petern Khalil stand in these votes and why did he vote against the Greens amendment, but for the Labor amendment which is totally silent on Adani?

In May 2017 Peter Khalil gave Climate Action Moreland a public assurance that he opposed the Adani Carmichael mine for both economic and environmental grounds. There were no “ifs’ in this statement. You can read his full statement which he gave to us to publicise.

A number of his constituents contacted him today to clarify his position after yesterday’s vote.

His response to our enquiry (and a number of others) was to call the Greens amendment a cheap stunt.

“Didn’t vote for a cheap Greens stunt, rider on the Bill that won’t get up or stop Adani. But we were voting for this which we ALP won 69-61

Khalil clarified his position in a response to Kate O’Donnell:

“I have stated Adani shld not go ahead if does not pass environmental and commercial standards and we say NO to and won’t allow $bill loan!”

mmm…an “if” statement seems to have crept into Peter Khalil’s current position on Adani. He was much more forthright in his opposition in his statement to us in May. Have a read.

and in the neighbouring electorate of Batman where David Feeney also opposed Adani

On May 19, 2017 David Feeney made a commitment on Adani to local constituents in a Facebook post:

Whether you look at it financially or environmentally, this project just doesn’t stack up.
The Turnbull Government should not allow any public monies to go to this project. But even without this funding, the cost of this project to our future when it comes to the environment and real action on climate change is too high.

Like Khalil, Feeney voted along party lines against the Greens amendment and then in favour of the Labor amendment.

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Entry filed under: Adani, coal export, Politician education. Tags: , , , .

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