Press Release - March 28, 2022

Push for ARENA to fund fossil fuel tech faces critical vote amid legal challenge questions

Government push for ARENA to fund fossil fuel tech faces critical vote amid scrutiny from leading barristers, Liberal Senators concerned about lawfulness

Just a day before the federal budget, the Senate will vote on a second disallowance motion brought by a Liberal-led Senate Committee to block the Coalition’s regulations for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund fossil fuel technologies including carbon capture and storage and blue hydrogen.

The Liberal-led, bi-partisan committee has urged for the regulations to be abandoned, raising repeated concerns the regulations are unlawful and inappropriate.

Legal advice sought by Environmental Justice Australia has also found the move by the federal government is “at odds” with ARENA’s purpose and “potentially beyond regulation-making power”.

Leading barrister and former head of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod AO SC, has advised the regulations are well open to legal challenges on multiple fronts.

Throughout history, the Senate Committee has only acted to bring on a disallowance motion a handful of times, and in all known cases the regulations have been struck down.

Environmental Justice Australia Senior Climate Specialist Lawyer Hollie Kerwin said:

“Leading barristers tell us Minister Taylor’s move is wide open to legal challenge on several fronts.

“Parliament’s own bi-partisan, Liberal-led scrutiny Committee has now made the exceedingly rare move to ask the Senate to take the regulations off the books because of its concerns they are unlawful and inappropriate.

“Despite the clear legal risk, a day before the federal budget, the Senate is voting on fossil fuel funding that has arguably never been subject to proper process. This vote is an important test of government trust and accountability.”

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