(Kooyong) (09:58): by leave—On behalf of the member for Curtin, I move amendments (1) and (2) in respect of the Climate Change Bill 2022, as circulated in her name:
(1) Clause 3, page 2 (before line 15), before paragraph (a), insert:
(aa) to advance an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change drawing on the best available scientific knowledge; and
(2) Clause 3, page 2 (line 21), after "accountability", insert "and ambition".
The member for Curtin is, unfortunately, unable to attend today because of COVID. Clause 3 of the Climate Change Bill sets out the objects of the bill. This clause, in its current form, has been included after discussions between the crossbench and the government and is a welcome addition to the bill.
The bill in its current form sets out three objects of the bill: to set out targets, to promote accountability and to ensure that advice from the Climate Change Authority informs the settings of targets and annual climate statements.
The proposed amendment adds another object:
… to advance an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change drawing on the best available scientific knowledge …
This amendment aims to broaden the legislation beyond the setting of a number to reflect that the parliament's intention is that this legislation be an effective, symbolic start to real climate action.
This amendment clarifies the underlying climate goals of the bill, the urgency of action and a link to scientific knowledge. An acknowledgement of the object's clause of the urgency of action and a link to scientific knowledge should give business certainty that this is a new era in climate policy and that the Australian parliament has an intention to be guided by the science and to decarbonise our economy. The setting of a numerical target is the first step in this significant shift.
A related amendment is also proposed to amend clause 3(b) so that it promotes accountability and ambition to reflect that this is the start of a significant journey ahead.
Objects clauses serve a few purposes in legislation. Firstly, they provide a statement of the policy objective of the legislation that enables the parliament and the public to gauge the success of legislation in achieving its policy goals. This bill contains provision for periodic reviews of the operation of the act under clause 17. If the purpose is narrowly defined as the setting of a target and not to the underlying climate goal, reviews could be limited in scope accordingly. A review might say, 'Yes, the legislation was effective in setting a target,' irrespective of whether or not those targets were met. It would be a reasonable community expectation that the review should examine the effectiveness of the legislation in driving climate change mitigation, rather than just the setting of a target.
Secondly, objects clauses assist in statutory interpretation, especially for broadly worded provisions. Proposed sections 12, 14 and 17 contain broadly worded obligations. An objects clause that refers to the underlying climate objectives assists in ensuring that these obligations are interpreted consistently with those climate objectives and that that advice, those reports and those reviews have substance to them.
This amendment is consistent with community expectations of the government's mandate to legislate a target, making it clear that the purpose is to drive real and urgent action on climate in line with the science.