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Climate Change (State Action) Amendment Bill 2021 (No 63)

Thursday 29 September 2022, Second reading speech

[5.42 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) – Mr President, firstly, to the Leader, I appreciate the briefings we have had, particularly with the minister coming along today. It is always helpful to hear a little more and to hear some answers to some of the questions raised. As we are all aware, the Tasmanian environment and ecological system is unique, important and there is nothing like it anywhere in the world and to this end I will make some brief remarks on the bill.

Amongst its aims, it seeks to legislate for a statewide emissions target for Tasmania of net zero or lower from 2030, just eight years away. This a positive step towards ensuring we do our part locally and as global citizens to reduce the mark we make on environmentally damaging emissions. Tasmania already possesses a reputation for being clean, green and environmentally conscious. The bill represents many of the good elements of political cooperation across the aisles. I accept there are many amendments to come and do have several briefings coming up in these next couple of weeks from people with comments on the amendments. I am not going to comment on what the amendments are. I am going to comment on the bill we have before us at this stage, rather than go into that. I will go into that when they come up.

Sustainability is not just about environmental protection. It also goes to ensuring any measures we implement to address emissions and pollution do not unfairly or unreasonably affect anyone living, working and operating a business in Tasmania. Therefore, the consolidation of the existing tenets, objects of the act, around five key themes including explicit reference to a consultative partnership with business, industry and the broader community, including local government, will assist with keeping everybody on board and legitimising decisions and policies which come out of these consultations.

It is in everyone's interests our environment be protected and we leave a healthy environment for our children and their children. We all know how much children care about this and how many letters we get from children. I do not know about other members, but I am sure they do. Many different groups, particularly groups that are in Years 10, 11, 12 and high school students have a real interest in climate change. Certainly, a lot more in these last few years than I have ever noticed in the past. It bodes well for the future, that our young people are interested in our environment.

Elsewhere policies like reaching net zero can be controversial and perhaps considered too big a task. Here in Tasmania, we have for decades been of the trend in this aspect, which puts us on a good footing to keep implementing measures that will not just protect the environment, but encourage ongoing business and industry sustainability.

This is the best of both worlds. The bill will be conducive to these ends. Whether it is enough, that is obviously for debate when we come back. Moreover, the Tasmanian Emissions Pathway Review's identification of 16 economy-wide emissions target opportunities gives us actual objective to help us reach net zero and beyond. Things like increasing the uptake of electric vehicles, developing a renewable hydrogen industry, using innovative feed supplements to reduce livestock emissions, planting more trees and focusing on the development of renewable hydrogen, all present significant opportunities, not just to reach net zero, but to provide opportunities in our technology and innovation sector.

I thought it was interesting today, particularly with the minister - and we heard it before in the other briefings - with regard to the seaweed food supplements for the dairy cows, how that can reduce the belching and the flatulence. It is interesting to see how they will manage that obviously with the beef cattle, but it is great that at least with the dairy cattle it is certainly something that can be achieved.

As the Leader mentioned in her second reading speech, actions like these have the potential to improve productivity and increase demands for Tasmania's renewable energy and products, meaning that by 2050 our economy could be $475 million larger and employing over 1200 more Tasmanians. This is a very exciting prospect and I hope we can start seeing the benefits of taking these actions well before 2050. The requirement for the minister to prepare a climate change action plan every five years is a good way to keep our government and relevant departments transparent and accountable, but also provide some leeway to adapt and pivot to the changing environment and economic circumstances.

The Tasmanian public rightly expects action to be taken on climate change. We all have a vested interest in ensuring our unique state remains habitable, safe, functional and beautiful, now and for the generations to come. It is important that we listen to the concerns of our community, particularly our children who obviously will be seeing this into the future. I am not sure many of us will be here in 1950 - I am trying to think how old I will be. We might still be around in 2050, maybe not many years after that, but we probably will not be in this place in 2050, I guess is what I should say.

The threats presented by climate change to a place like Tasmania are no joke. Our forests, our fauna and population are all inherently vulnerable to things like increases to bushfires and significant weather events. It is incumbent upon us, as lawmakers, to ensure we put in place as early as possible, measures to ensure the impacts we have on the environment are minimal and net zero by 2030. This sends a strong message that we do take this problem seriously.

I thank the Leader for bringing this bill on. I look forward to the contributions. I have enjoyed the contributions that members have made and the contributions of members to come.


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