August 2, 2022

Haines to amend Climate Change Bill to put regional Australia at forefront

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines will seek to amend the Government’s Climate Change Bill to ensure regional Australia benefits from action on climate change.

Dr Haines’ proposal would put regional Australia at the forefront of Australia’s climate change policy framework, through four simple amendments to the legislation introduced by the Government.

“It is the regions that endure the brunt of the droughts, the floods and the bushfires that are becoming increasingly severe, and happening increasingly often,” Dr Haines said.

“And it is the regions that will host almost all of the new renewable energy we must construct and a huge part of the new industries Australia must build to truly take advantage of the net zero economic opportunity.

“This transition will happen primarily in the regions, so it only makes sense that our climate policy keeps a special focus on the regions.”

The amendments would require the Climate Change Authority to make sure that any measures to respond to climate change should boost economic, employment and social benefits, including for rural and regional Australia.

“Renewable energy and the new industries it will unlock could become the next goldrush or the next wool boom for regional Australia – but only if we plan it right,” Dr Haines said.

“We want to see long-term, well-paid jobs being created in our local towns, new training opportunities in local TAFEs, profits staying local instead of flowing overseas. My amendment will help secure these economic benefits that otherwise risk slipping through our fingers.”

The list of eligible qualifications for appointments to the Climate Change Authority would be expanded under Dr Haines’ amendments to include regional development experience.

“These are the people who will be advising on Australia’s targets and tracking our progress to achieving those,” Dr Haines said.

“We need regional voices at that table. And we need people who understand how to make renewable energy actually deliver for regional communities.”

The amendments would require the minister’s annual statement on emissions reduction to specifically outline the social, employment, and economic benefits that those policies are delivering to the regions.

Dr Haines’ amendments would also require the regions to be explicitly considered when setting new emissions targets.

“It means that no Government can get away with a climate policy that does not specifically address the unique circumstances of and opportunities for regional Australia,” Dr Haines said.

Dr Haines has shared her proposed amendments with the Government, the Opposition and the crossbench.

“I have had positive discussions with the Government and the Crossbench, and I hope members of the Liberal and National Parties, particularly those representing regional and rural Australia, will also support these amendments,” Dr Haines said.

“This is why the people of Indi voted for Independent representation – for their needs to be heard in Parliament, and for informed, good-faith interaction to improve Government legislation on their behalf.”

The Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, will move the Haines amendments in the House after Dr Haines tested positive for COVID-19.

Ms Sharkie said the amendments properly acknowledged the impact and opportunities for regional Australia.

“The challenges of climate change affect each electorate differently, and many of our communities in regional and rural Australia have shouldered the brunt of the extreme weather events.”

“By supporting this amendment, we acknowledge the impacts of climate change on regional Australia and help direct the flow of economic and social benefits toward the communities that need it the most.”

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