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Motion: Fossil Fuels

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I move

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that fossil fuel combustion is the primary driver of global heating and climate change, which is threatening the lives, livelihoods and health of people across the globe;

2. Notes the petition by Fossil Free South Australia calling for an end to the Santos-fossil fuel partnership of the Tour Down Under;

3. Notes that sporting organisations already say no to the dirty money on offer from tobacco, alcohol and gambling;

4. Notes that heavily profiting fossil fuel industries are greenwashing their public image by exploiting people's love of sport; and

5. Calls on the Malinauskas government to ban fossil fuel sponsorships for South Australian sporting organisations and events.

Today, I speak to a petition of over 8,000 signatures, a petition that has been put together over two incarnations by Fossil Free South Australia. That petition calls to end the Santos fossil fuel partnership of the Tour Down Under. The petition reads:

We support a Tour Down Under that promotes sustainability and showcases South Australia’s forward looking energy policy. Events SA partnering with Santos is inconsistent with the promotion of a healthy, clean sport such as cycling.

Santos is a fossil fuel company committed to expansion of the gas industry, including controversial 'fracking' projects. Santos has no credible transition plan towards net zero emissions.

Events SA should seek a new naming rights partner…with credentials that better align with the event values and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sustainability principles.

A very simple call, and a very substantial petition of some 8,000-plus signatures via electronic means, which of course in this parliament faces a problem when it comes to tabling such a petition because we do not in this parliament yet accept electronic petitions. One would think, as Fossil Free South Australia did, 'No worries. We will just present it to the Premier.' The Premier refuses to meet you, so you then think, 'Oh, well. The petition is to EventsSA. We will just present it to EventsSA.' EventsSA also refuses to meet you and accept your 8,000-plus signatures calling for an end to this dirty fossil fuel partnership of Santos with the Tour Down Under.

So the Greens are very happy today to table those 8,000 signatures in this Legislative Council so that at least the parliament will finally hear the voices of those who have signed the petition. With that, I seek leave to table this document, which is 'The petition by Fossil Free South Australia to end the Santos fossil fuel partnership of the Tour Down Under'.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks, I just need clarity. Are you seeking leave to table a document, or are you seeking leave to table a petition to the council?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I am seeking leave to table a document that is called 'The petition by Fossil Free South Australia to end the Santos fossil fuel partnership of the Tour Down Under'. This is what that document looks like.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I will leave this here for the attendants to finally take carriage of the petition. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy: the right of people to petition their parliamentarians. It should not take a motion of parliament to receive such a petition. I do think it is very sad that it has come to this. What I would say is that it seems that when it comes to major sporting events, the Premier has been there for the photo-op but not for the follow-up, to borrow someone else's statement. I will also share with the council today some of the thoughts and comments that came with the petition because I feel that, unless they are heard in this council chamber by this parliament, they may be silenced. Peter has signed and says:

Please don't compromise the long term safety of our environment for short term gain. For the sake of our future climate and there for future cycling events…Keep Santos out this year.

A further comment, from Pamela:

Really, this petition should not be needed. Australia's love affair with coal needs to be replaced with sustainable options. We are a disgrace on the world stage.

Mark writes:

I'm a former coal worker who quit the industry in disgust on eventually becoming aware of how damaging it was. At the time I wondered how long it would take the broader community to view the coal industry with the same disgust. It's taken far too long. Similarly, it is taking far too long to realise that the gas industry is no better. Your association with SANTOS should be an embarrassment to you. You are as complicit as they are in fuelling climate change. Get rid of them!

Another comment, from Kim: For many years now I have watched companies like Santos pretend to be good corporate citizens. Like many fossil fuel companies they move into vulnerable communities sponsoring football clubs, charities and events. At the same time landowners are fighting to protect their environment, groundwater and livelihoods. Santos's coal seam gas Pilliga project in NSW is a perfect example. They have run roughshod over the wishes of farmers, environmentalists and community members for years. It is time to stop accepting funding from all fossil fuel companies.

Jo writes: Companies should not be able to buy their community approval by slapping their logo on a high profile sporting event. This should be a fossil free event, on bicycles! Jenny writes: How can you accept donations or sponsorship from a company that pays NO TAX, whose greed has led to huge increases in gas prices for Australians and whose fracking activities add to climate change and destroy rural communities? Please don't.

Dr Steven Gration writes: The hypocrisy of Santos being allowed to sponsor a major cycling race and advertise their polluting fossil fuel activities in total disdain for South Australia's renewable energy record is not lost on the people of Australia. It's time for Events SA to take the ethical and moral stance of ditching Santos and finding a suitable major sponsor.

Dorothy writes: Stop gaslighting us and move to a green sponsor. The only gas we need is that supplied by our foot on the pedal of a bike.

Clare writes: As a GP, I am fully aware that climate change is our biggest threat. Health activities like bike riding are not compatible with fossil fuel consumption. We need to make EVERY effort, including denying damaging sponsorships, to influence our future away from impending disaster. This is the Big Tobacco playbook—pay peanuts to associate a scourge on humanity with something attractive and healthy. Why are we still falling for it? As the person responsible please be responsible and don't accept such tainted money.

Chris writes: Do not sell social license to social and environmental destroyers such as Santos.

Bryan writes: I'm a cyclist—there's no place in cycling for fossil fuel companies anymore. The evidence is overwhelming. Clean cyclists, clean sponsors! Angela writes: We are a laughing stock around the world. You would never hear 'The Chevron Tour de France' or 'The Shell Giro'. Only in Australia—so embarrassing.

Amber writes: Climate change is bad news for the TDU, with the number of days over 40 degrees predicted to increase by 60 percent over the next decade. Bushfires are also more likely, and hence disruption from smoke. Imagine the sad irony in the Santos TDU being cancelled. 

Alfredo writes: Santos doesn't have social license to exploit Australian resources! They don't pay any taxes and contribute to the Climate Changes with toxic emission and contaminate underground aquifers.

Andrew writes: I am a keen rider and have love the TDU over many years, seeing numerous sponsorship partners come and go. I am also very concerned about climate change and the urgent and critical need for the world to transition away from fossil fuels. I am therefore extremely dismayed that my favourite annual sporting event in South Australia continues to be sullied by its association with what I consider to be an unethical company that apart from polluting the earth, pays very little tax, receives government support and steamrolls over the wishes of indigenous people to maximise its profits. I implore you to drop Santos as a sponsor of the TDU.

I am happy to bring this petition to this council today and this broader motion to raise these issues to the awareness of this parliament. I also commend those members of Fossil Free South Australia. Fossil Free South Australia is working to rapidly end fossil fuels by contributing to a global climate movement, and it is taking action right here in South Australia.

It has a campaign, #BreakAwayFromGas, and that campaign is to pressure EventsSA to end Santos's partnership with the Tour Down Under. Santos, it claims, must not be allowed to use this prestigious event to greenwash its activities. The company cannot present itself as community minded when its business model directly contributes to the climate crisis and extreme weather events, which ironically disrupt the event itself.

Quite simply, BreakAwayFromGas and Fossil Free South Australia want to see the Tour Down Under continue with the support of clean corporate partners that are not linked to fossil fuel industries or the financial institutions that sustain them. Fossil Free SA is part of 350 Australia, and Australia aims to rapidly end fossil fuels by building a global climate movement. I would hope that would be very familiar to some members of this place, if not all of them.

Other organisations involved in this petition and in this particular campaign include the Australian Conservation Foundation, the premier Australian national environmental organisation that has been around since 1965 protecting the nature we all love, our unique wildlife and our beautiful beaches and bush. It includes Extinction Rebellion, more of a newcomer to the scene but a decentralised international and politically non-partisan movement using nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the climate and ecological emergency. Extension Rebellion is a global movement that has been around since 2018. As I said, it is a recent newcomer to the space.

Another name members would be aware of, of course, is Greenpeace, a leading independent campaigning organisation that uses peaceful protest and creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

I commend all those groups, and I thank the individuals from those groups who, in representative roles, met with me this week to present that petition. As I said, they sought a meeting with the Premier to present the petition, and were denied. They sought a meeting with EventsSA to present that petition, and were denied. I question why a petition of some 8,000 plus signatures cannot even secure a home with those it seeks to petition, be that the Premier or EventsSA. Surely some public servant could have taken the folder and put it in the Premier's inbox so that the Premier would actually see the depth of community concern about what is going on.

It is no surprise there is community concern, because we are in a climate crisis. As our rivers dry up and our country burns, people from all walks of life are coming face-to-face with the harsh reality of our changing climate: raging bushfires, prolonged droughts, air so thick with smoke one cannot breathe—that, in fact, one might need to take holiday in Hawaii to avoid. These things should not be normal, but if we continue down the path we are currently on they will be. We must face a harsh but necessary truth: fossil fuels have had their day. Many Australian sporting organisations are beginning to take action to reduce their climate pollution and climate pollution footprints and leverage their significant media profiles to promote environmentally positive behaviours. We welcome that. As they do so, the appropriateness of coal, gas and oil sponsorships and partnerships is, quite rightly, receiving increasing public scrutiny.

In 2021, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) commenced landmark proceedings in the Federal Court, alleging that Santos Limited had breached the Corporations Act 2001, under the commonwealth, and the Australian Consumer Law by engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct relating to its supposed 'clean energy' claims and its net zero plan in its 2020 annual report.

The Malinauskas government should be following this case quite closely. This was the first court case in the world to challenge the veracity of a company's net zero emissions plan. In August 2022, the ACCR amended its case to include alleged greenwashing in Santos' 2020 Investor Day Briefing and 2021 Climate Change Report following additional information produced by Santos in the litigation discovery process. In October 2023, the Hon. Justice Michael Lee ordered Santos to provide written statements on the key evidence and assumptions behind its emissions reduction targets.

I also draw members' attention to the Out of Bounds Report, which certainly does look at the greenwashing that is currently occurring in our sport. Sport is a key part of our cultural identity in this country. Many of us love sport, many of us love to play sport, participate in sport and watch sport.

The Boston Consulting Group has estimated that sport contributes some $50 billion annually to our economy across the nation each year. Climate change is having growing impacts on Australian sports at elite and community levels, and by 2040 heatwaves in Sydney and Melbourne could reach highs of 50° Celsius and threaten the viability of iconic sporting events, such as the MCG Boxing Day Test or the Australian Open.

At a community level, extreme heat is posing significant health risks to participants. Climate change is also driving longer and more intense bushfire seasons, exposing athletes and spectators to dangerous air pollution. So climate change is both an immediate and future threat to sport in our nation. From flooded-out music festivals, concerts cancelled by bushfire threats, to extreme heat disrupting play at the cricket, climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas, is putting our sports and events—those sports and events that we love—at risk.

Even in the midst of the climate crisis, giant fossil fuel companies, like Woodside, Santos, Chevron and Glencore, are greenwashing their image by sponsoring hundreds of Australian teams, arts institutions and community events, while leveraging the positive image of sport and fan loyalty associated with domestic and national teams. A number of high profile sports teams, including the Australian Rugby Union team, the Wallabies and the Australian Football League's Freemantle Dockers, have high-profile sponsorship relations with fossil fuel corporations. With these fossil fuel relationships comes reputational risk. Sporting organisations do have a history of moving away from corporate sponsors due to growing public awareness about the harm a particular product inflicts on our society.

One could not imagine today tobacco or alcohol being a sporting sponsor, and gambling— again, just some of the industries that have faced regulation over the years to control their involvement with our much-loved sports as a promotional platform to launder their bad image because of public concern at the impact of individual and community health and wellbeing quite rightly calling out those sportswashing attempts.

The sport industry in Australia is highly visible, it is a key part of our cultural identity, and 77 per cent of Australians call themselves sports fans. This is one of the most visible ways that corporations can align themselves with something that Australians love: these well-loved sporting bodies. When these sponsorships include controversial partnerships like coal, oil and gas, which damage the health of people and the planet, this association becomes particularly problematic.

Sponsorship arrangements between sporting organisations and corporations which extract or retail coal, gas and oil are now likely to be heavily scrutinised by sports fans as global and national concern at the impact of climate change on our health as humans and our planet grows. Sport provides substantial benefits to fossil fuel industries that sponsor them. They allow these fossil fuel companies to create a positive association with millions of sports fans, while continuing to do that irreversible harm to our people and to our planet.

We need to have sponsors for sport that help, not harm, our planet. That is why people are calling out the TDU sponsorship by Santos. That is why people have signed this petition I tabled today, and that is why the Malinauskas government must seriously look at moving to fossil free sports and moving away from fossil fuel sponsorship of our much-loved sports. With that, I commend the motion.

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