The Albanese government intends to speed its signature climate legislation through the lower house within the next fortnight, but does not expect it to pass the Senate until at least September.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen will on Wednesday introduce a bill to enshrine a 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2050, as promised at the election.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, who is leading negotiations on the bill with the government, has welcomed confirmation that a 43 per cent emissions-reduction target would be a minimum commitment.
Mr Bowen said 43 per cent represents a floor and not a ceiling to future emissions-reduction measures.
“We hope and expect Australia can do even better than that with the combined efforts of industry, unions, communities, governments, state and federal,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Mr Bowen said enshrining the target in law – effectively creating a framework for private sector investment in clean energy – was not expected to throw up any legal hurdles.
Mr Bandt said that move is a good step and wants to remove any chance of the legislation being wound back.
“If we’re going to pass targets and put them into law, we want to make sure it’s (opposition leader Peter) Dutton-proof so it’s not something that can be unwound at a future date,” he told ABC television.
The Greens leader had previously expressed concern the 43 per cent target would be an upper limit for emissions reduction and not able to be increased by future governments.
But Mr Bowen says it is not within the remit to bind future parliaments.
Meanwhile, Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer said she is open to crossing the floor to support Labor’s bill.
“This is an issue important to Australians, we are facing many threats as a result of climate change,” she told ABC radio.
“My job, my only job, is to represent the people of Bass.”
The bill would also task the independent Climate Change Authority with giving public advice on the nation’s advances in reducing emissions, while the climate change minister would have to table a response if disagreeing with the advice.
The authority must also make suggestions for future targets at least once every five years, including new aims under the Paris Agreement which will contain one for 2035.
A review of the law will take place within five years, followed by another 10 years later.
Mr Bandt has called for the government to also put an end to new coal and gas projects.
To pass the bill, the government will need the support of all 12 Greens plus at least one crossbencher in the Senate.
Mr Bandt said while the government had a mandate to introduce the 43 per cent target in the lower house, negotiations were needed for the upper house.
“My energy at the moment is focused on having discussions with the government to try and address those issues of coal and gas, (and) look at how we make sure the target can be lifted,” he said.
“The parties and independents whose vote went up were the ones who said it’s time to get out of coal and gas.”
Mr Bowen said he had not sought, nor gained, any guarantees of the bill passing.