Labor, the Greens and the crossbench were able to block the government’s attempt to use money that had been set aside for renewable energy to instead fund things which are most definitely not renewable energy, all because accidental environmentalist Pauline Hanson didn’t rock up to the Senate.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor wanted to allow the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest in non-renewable technologies such as carbon capture and so-called “blue hydrogen“, which is extracted from natural gas.
ARENA was set up by the Labor government in 2012 to fund renewable projects like solar and wind. Carbon capture, however, is an expensive, inefficient and unproven way to to reduce emissions, while “blue hydrogen” is extracted in a process which still produces carbon dioxide. Neither technology bcan even be remotely classified as renewable, and both exist mainly to prolong the lifespan of the fossil fuel industry.
The government thought it had the numbers in the Senate to block any vetos, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. But when Labor and the Greens proposed disallowance motions to knock back the changes, they were able to stop the government with a majority of just one vote thanks to the absence of one Pauline Hanson.
The newspaper reports that while her fellow One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts backed the government, Hanson “chose not to come down” to vote in the Senate.
“For anyone who may be listening outside of this godforsaken building, the government is seeking to spend yet more public money to prop up fossil fuels,” Greens Senator Larissa Waters said during the vote on Tuesday night.
“Sadly, we’re sensing a bit of a theme with this government, which loves to splash around taxpayer money to its big donors who make those generous contributions and exact policy outcomes that suit their corporate bottom lines and now exact yet more public support.”
Waters said that “the clue is in the name, guys” when it comes to what technologies ARENA should be funding. That clue is the word “Renewable”.
Had Hanson actually been in the Senate and sided with the government, that would’ve been enough for the veto to fail and thus the government would’ve gotten its way.
To be fair, there were a few decent things included in the government’s proposal like additional charging stations for electric cars and microgrids in rural communities.
But those aren’t enough to outweigh the massive damage of the other technologies.
No matter how hard the fossil fuel industry tries, carbon capture will never be a thing. And while hydrogen isn’t inherently evil, extracting it from gas (which comes from fracking or offshore drilling) and positing it as an alternative to more efficient and cheaper battery technologies is a shitty ploy to delay our transition to renewables.
We may never get the chance to utter these words again, so let’s savour it now: the environment thanks you for once, Pauline Hanson.