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We must assess the risks & benefits of climates change vs renewables on flora & fauna

Why won’t Labor disclose to Australians the full extent of the environmental and economic impact of renewables? 

Word salad Wednesday. 

When I asked the Environment Department about whether or not they had done a total all-of-Australia environmental assessment on the impact of renewables, I was told that they only do project-by-project assessments. 

The problem with this is Australians are never given the upfront big picture cost to the environment or the budget. When it comes to renewables it’s the frog in boiling water scenario. 

On the hand when it comes to CO2 it’s the full blown “we’re all doomed” scenario if you don’t let the government tax you into poverty. 

Shout out to Jenny Macalister who wins the word salad of the week award for speaking for a good two minutes without saying anything informative at all.

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
23/10/2023
Estimates
CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER PORTFOLIO
Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

Senator RENNICK: I know that you’ve said that you’re working on your total cost. Have you done an environmental impact on the impact of transmission lines and turbines on our wildlife, our native fauna and flora—in particular, koalas and eaglehawks et cetera? How many koalas are going to have to be relocated? Have we done environmental impact on the impact of actually implementing renewables across our beautiful country?

Mr Fredericks : I think I can answer that in the generality. As you know, because you are across these issues, those environmental impacts assessments will happen on a case-by-case basis rather than in the aggregate sense that you’re describing. The law compels us and the system to make decisions about environmental projects and the impacts on the environment as and when those projects are presented to government. As you know, sometimes it’s the state government that is the environmental regulator. Where the Commonwealth EPBC Act is engaged, it becomes the Commonwealth. I think the answer to that question is: at that whole-of-system, aggregate level, that would be an immensely difficult task and not one that’s required by law. What’s required by law as the regulator is an assessment of environmental impact on a case-by-case basis.

Senator RENNICK: As a senator for Queensland but also representing the Australian parliament, we need a big-picture view here. We need to know how many koalas, how many eaglehawks and how many hairy-nosed wombats are going to be impacted by this? We always talk about how carbon dioxide is going to raise the ocean levels. It seems to me that you can look at one side of the picture when it comes to fearmongering but, when it actually comes to the other side and protecting our environment, you want to do it bit by bit. I’ll compare to superannuation, which was two per cent in 1992, and now it’s 12 per cent, which is a massive chunk out of people’s salaries. We need to know the total impact on all of our flora and fauna across the country that are going to face the enormous impact of tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission lines, the massive lithium mining and rare earth mining that has to take place and the offshore wind farms. I think we need a system review to be transparent to the Australian people as to whether or not they want another 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or large chunks of their flora and fauna wiped out. Don’t you think that’s a reasonable assessment to make?

Senator McAllister: I’m not sure we accept the dichotomy that you propose. We’re in possession, of course, of significant scientific information about the impacts of a change in climate on flora and fauna, so one of the many reasons that the government is committed to net zero by 2050 is in response to the impacts that we know that a change in climate will have on all those plants and animals.

CHAIR: Last question. I’m going to rotate the call.

Senator RENNICK: Yes, this is the last little point.

Senator McAllister: I actually haven’t finished my answer.

Senator RENNICK: If you’ve got the impacts of climate change, you should have the impacts of renewables—

CHAIR: Senator Rennick, we’re trying to have a very respectful session where we’re not talking over each other. Just let the minister continue.

Senator RENNICK: Sure. I have a great deal of respect for Minister McAllister.

Senator McAllister: Thank you. I won’t take up too much time, because I think that’s what’s troubling you. I just wanted to make the point that I don’t think the dichotomy is as you suggest. I also make the point that we would accept, on these kinds of impacts of these proposals and any other proposal with a significant impact on the Australian landscape, that of course it should be assessed properly through environment laws. Later in the program today, the environment part of the department will be able to talk about some of the ways that we propose to improve Australia’s environmental laws.

I also make the point that, on the specific issue of how impacts of either renewables projects or transmission projects are assessed, most of the states and territories—certainly in the National Electricity Market—are now actively engaged in thinking about how to bring about a more consolidated way of thinking about some of these issues. But not all of this is within the Commonwealth’s control. There are state and territory environment agencies and planning agencies that play a role in assessing the kinds of impacts that you’re thinking about.

Senator RENNICK: Yes. I just think we need to look at the risks and benefits of climate change versus the risks and benefits of renewables so that the Australian people can get a proper risk-reward analysis. That’s all. Thanks very much for your time.

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