Grievance Debate: Fossil Free SA

Thursday October 31, 2019

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:36): As the member for Mount Gambier, I see it as my duty to represent all people within my community, even if they hold differing views from mine. With that in mind, I committed to tabling a letter from Fossil Free South Australia only to find that tabling a letter is not possible and that the only way to do it is to read it into Hansard through a grieve, and that is what I am doing now.

Whilst I did not sign this letter, I want it to be on the record that I do support a long-term move away from fossil fuels. I believe that this will be best achieved with all tiers of government work together. I believe our state needs to continue its transition for more renewable sources of energy that will have less environmental impact, but it needs to be done in a planned and predictable manner that includes base load power to ensure continuity of supply.

This letter is from Fossil Free SA. It is addressed to the Premier, Mr Marshall; the environment minister, David Speirs; and the minister for mines and energy, Dan van Holst Pellekaan. It reads as follows:

We are writing in response to the announcement on May 27 2019 stating that 'Bidding is now open for five new Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) in the Cooper Basin in the State's Far North and three new petroleum exploration licences in the Otway Basin in the State's Limestone Coast region'.

Gas and oil companies have until November 29 to apply for these exploration licences.

We are in a global climate emergency and the October 2018 IPCC Special Report has warned that a rapid phase out of fossil fuel use is essential.

Climate impacts are already killing people and destroying ecosystems, and inviting new fossil fuel exploration and extraction will lead to yet more climate damage.

The easiest and least disruptive step towards phasing out fossil fuel use is to stop new fossil fuel exploration and extraction before it starts.

We, the undersigned, ask you to revoke the May 2019 release of oil and gas exploration areas in the Cooper, Eromanga, and Otway Basins and to ban all further fossil fuel exploration and all new fossil fuel extraction projects (those not yet approved) in South Australia.

During the transition to renewable forms of energy, supply of gas for backup electricity generation, industry, and household use is guaranteed by clauses attached to the 2017 PACE grants for recent new gas extraction projects.

Any further new gas extraction in South Australia is likely to mean more gas exports—we don't need it.

South Australia already has over 50 per cent renewable electricity, meaning that all-electric households (even those without solar PV) have much lower carbon emissions than those households that still use gas appliances.

They also have lower energy bills, so the trend away from domestic gas use is likely to continue.

The possibility that new fossil fuel projects might create new jobs is no excuse for allowing new climate-damaging projects.

In 2017-18 renewable energy projects provided 17,740 direct jobs in Australia, with more employment guaranteed as further projects are rolled out.

It is a myth that fossil fuels make anyone except fossil fuel companies rich. Total fossil fuel royalties for South Australia in 2017-18 were only $86 million, suggesting possible missed revenue of maybe $10 million/year if new fossil fuel extraction is banned.

We ask you to step up as a climate leader and take at least this first and easiest step in response to the climate emergency by banning new fossil fuel projects in South Australia and revoking the May 2019 release of oil and gas exploration areas.

Youths faithfully,

Fossil Free SA and the co-signers

As I would like to reiterate, I did not sign that letter but, as a member with constituents who have signed it, I saw it as my duty to read it into Hansard and pass it on to the three ministers as I said I would.