Rushed Legislation’s Injustice for Mining Communities

From all corners of Australia, Australian Mining Cities Alliance (AMCA) Directors travelled to Canberra last week to continue their advocacy in earnest regarding implications of the Climate Change Bill 2022 for some mining communities.

AMCA’s submission to the Senate Committee for Environment and Communication (Legislation) called for the Bill to acknowledge ‘disbenefits’ for such communities which will in some cases drastically accrue.

AMCA also expressed its concerns in correspondence with many relevant politicians and the Climate Change Authority.  It then conducted meetings in Canberra with responsive Ministers and Shadow Ministers.

AMCA Chair Phil Barwick (Deputy Mayor of Mount Isa City Council) reflected on the passing of the Bill;

“The process for this historic legislation feels disrespectful to, and unjust for the very communities that have contributed to the nation’s affluence for so long and that have held its economy afloat during the recent pandemic.”

“Government did not conduct any meaningful engagement with the most affected communities, so it is disappointing that its passing of the Bill did not establish explicit future requirements for consideration and reporting of the real ‘disbenefits’ for such communities, despite the fact that the Senate Committee’s report acknowledged them in the context of Government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.”, he said.

“In addition to acknowledgement of the need for ‘just transition’ for affected workers, the Paris Agreement states;

‘Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities…’”

“We believe that this whole process was rushed.  The period of transit of this historic Bill through both Houses of Parliament was just 44 days and the Senate Committee Inquiry submission period was just 14 days – a fact that was acknowledged in the Committee report which stated;

‘The committee would like to thank those individuals, institutions and organisations that contributed to the inquiry, particularly given the inquiry’s short timeframe.’”

“Such a process could hardly be considered to have genuinely respected, promoted, and considered the Government’s obligations to local communities as outlined in the Paris Agreement.” Mr Barwick asserted.

Deputy Chair of AMCA, Anne Baker (Mayor of Isaac Regional Council) added;

“We understand the importance of the Government’s commitment to provide clarity for all Australians.  But we implore the Government from here on, to meaningfully engage with affected communities and their local government leaders on imperatives, including those which were recommended by the Senate Committee to;

“… undertake further consultation on possible legislative amendments and appropriate policy responses including… the transition arrangements for Australian workers impacted by decarbonisation.”

“AMCA and its Member Councils of transforming regions stand ready and willing to assist the Government to meet its obligations to engage with those communities that have the most to lose.” she concluded.