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Energy Co-Ordination And Planning Amendment Bill 2018 - Second Reading

27 November 2018
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, the Greens will be supporting this 
bill but we have a few things we would like to comment on in Committee 
about the details of what this bill is planning, which is to formalise the 
MOU arrangement in legislation between the Office of the Tasmanian 
Economic Regulator in its role as monitor and assessor, and its ability to 
have access to information regarding storages from Hydro Tasmania. The 
bill will also establish a new role of an energy coordination and assessor 
and it provides the Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator with powers 
as assessor under that act. 

The reasons for this bill are pretty much two that I can think of. One is 
the abject management and planning failures of this Government under 
previous ministers, and the other is climate denialism. We can sum it up 
succinctly like that. If only things had changed. It appears there is 
clear evidence in this bill that the Liberal Government has not recovered 
from its climate denialism. It is being administered by a domination of 
climate change sceptics. It is pretty clear that every single piece of 
legislation in the area of future planning, anything to do with any of the 
core services, resources, management of large-scale infrastructure issues, 
any of the bills, speeches, anything that comes before this parliament, 
has ministers speaking to them who refuse to mention or reflect in 
legislation the reality of climate change. We even had the minister for 
Emergency Services, Michael Ferguson, a month or so ago, come in here with 
an emergency management bill that did not have an account of the central 
relevance of planning for climate change. What a disgrace. 

Here we have a bill which manages to skirt around the reality of what is 
facing us as a future, but coded within it there is a clear recognition 
from somewhere within the minister's department or Hydro - I do not know 
where, but there are some good people in the department who, despite the 
poor leadership and climate denialism of a number of minister, are 
managing to move us as a state, way too slowly, but nonetheless in the 
direction of understanding that we have to plan for energy security in the 
future. 

In December 2015, those of us who were members at the time will not forget 
the announcement that there was a fault with the Basslink cable and it was 
no longer working. It came at a time when Hydro's dam storages were below 
the absolute rock-bottom 25 per cent they were allowed to go down to at 
the time. It was pretty clear that things were in a desperate place 
because we had been in a state of severe drought in that preceding winter 
and spring. It was on the record. The Greens had talked about it in 
parliament. 

The Bureau of Meteorology had forecast this massive drought, driven by an 
El Niño, but before that the Japanese Bureau of Meteorology in May 2014, a 
full year and half before we had the energy crisis so-called in Tasmania, 
predicted that there would be an extreme El Niño occurring throughout the 
winter, spring and summer of 2015. Despite that, Hydro continued to trade 
away our water for profits to mainland Australia. They were using a 
mechanism which had been in place for some time and there is nothing wrong 
with the mechanism, it was simply not being used with due diligence. No-
one has a problem selling excess water that can generate electricity, 
which is then traded through the Basslink cable to mainland Australia. It 
is a good thing to increase the supply of clean power in Australia. 
Tasmania is well placed to contribute. 

No-one suspected we would have a rogue Liberal Government determined to 
extract maximum profit from Hydro and either allow them or direct them - 
we will never know the truth - to max out the dam credit card and run it 
down so far that when the cable broke we were in a very bad place.

That failure, which previous energy minister Matthew Groom must take some 
responsibility for, cost Tasmania $126 million at least. It cost an 
enormous amount in carbon emissions from the diesel generators we were 
forced to import and run for at least six months. As Mr O'Byrne pointed 
out, the Liberals were also required to backflip on their intention to 
sell the Tamar Valley Power Station and bring that back into action. 

We had no clean power generation planning for Tasmania. Hydro is a 
massive organisation that has been around for 100 years. It should have 
that level of risk management planning. It is not inconceivable that both 
those things could happen at the same time. It could happen again. We 
know there is a fault in the cable. We will have an extreme drought in 
Tasmania again. We do not want those two things to coincide in the future
. The decision by Hydro to increase its minimum dam storage levels is 
part of that risk management planning.

Hydro Tasmania has recognised the reality of climate change in Tasmania. 
In 2007 Hydro formally wrote down the energy output of its integrated 
system by 10 per cent. That is a massive reduction. When the minister is 
able to listen he might be able to answer the question: has Hydro 
undertaken another assessment of the energy output of the integrated 
system in the past 11 years? In the past 11 years there has been a 
reduction in rainfall across south eastern Australia, according to the 
Bureau of Meteorology and scientists. Has there been a step reduction in 
rainfall going into the output from Hydro in Tasmania?

This is not the time for thought bubbles, back of the envelope ideas, or 
policy lacking in evidence. The Greens are concerned at the minister's 
full-on promotion of pumped hydro. He says the scheme would cost $5 
billion with the second interconnector. The minister has never provided 
the Tasmanian people with any credible accounting of the costs of that 
exercise, of the benefits and disadvantages of going down that route 
versus other routes. 

The minister is missing some low-cost ways to make us energy self-reliant. 
Year after year Liberal energy ministers have missed doing the obvious 
small things that would make a difference to our energy security as a 
state and make a big difference to people's hip pockets. First, they 
could electrify the Tasmanian Government car fleet. Second-hand 
government electric cars would help people who want to buy an electric car 
who cannot afford a new electric car. It would introduce Tasmanians to 
the electric car market and help us to move toward electrification of our 
total car fleet in Tasmania, which needs to happen as soon as possible.

Second, the minister announced earlier this week that he is going to cut 
the solar feed-in tariff by 30 per cent, from 28 cents down to 8.5 cents 
with a very small window period of one year, which does not provide a 
signal to the solar household installation market. What minister, who is 
committed to introducing renewable energy into Tasmania, would make a move 
like that? His decision is designed to drive down the small-scale solar 
installation sector, a sector that would create hundreds of jobs across 
Tasmania, particularly in regional areas and in small operations. 
Household solar is sustainable and creates ongoing work, because those 
systems need maintenance. It is good for individual householders as a way 
of reducing electricity costs and it is good for the planet.

I have a number of things to talk about in the Committee stage of the bill
. We cannot talk about an energy security coordinator without 
understanding that a core task for that role will be to investigate 
Tasmanian liquid fuel security. The energy we use in a liquid fuel form 
is an equally large part of the energy we consume as a state from coal-
fired power. From a domestic perspective, the amount of energy Tasmanians 
use as electricity to power homes and businesses is about 15 per cent of 
all energy. The amount of energy in the form of diesel or petrol in light 
vehicles, that is not in freight movements, is about 25 per cent of that 
total energy.

From an energy security perspective, there is clearly a lot of incentive 
to make big changes and how we use transport. As I mentioned, 
electrification of the Tasmanian fleet would make huge inroads towards 
that target. Unfortunately, at the moment nearly 100 per cent of all the 
essential transport services from freight and people movement in Tasmania 
come from liquid fuels and it is not yet electrified. Almost all of that 
liquid fuel, about 98 per cent, is imported. I do not have the up-to-date 
figure, but a couple of years ago we spent $1.3 billion a year as a state 
on liquid fossil fuels for transport. We spend more on energy for 
motorised transport than we do on electricity.

If we think about energy security and the role of an energy security 
coordinator, we need to consider the fact that most of that petroleum 
comes from South-East Asia. We are at the end of the oil supply chain and 
as a result, we are exposed to unforeseen impacts of global events. Some 
of those unforeseen impacts will be related to climate change and extreme 
weather events. Clearly anything coming over the oceans is exposed to 
extreme winds and that is a concern for the security and safety of those 
vessels. They are also exposed to the unforeseen possibility of a 
terrorist attack or another calamity that could happen.

Because we have no ability to make or store that fuel on the island, we 
have a dependence on the importation of those fuels and very little 
control over the price. What we hear regularly is the increasingly large 
component that petrol prices play in the household weekly budget. 
Everything we can do to push back on that increasing component and make 
that energy secure and, importantly, renewable in its generation, has to 
be a core part of the work of the energy security coordinator.

That is all I need to say on this bill at the moment except that clearly 
anything happening in this space needs to be framed first and foremost 
within the context of climate change, and I look forward to the minister's 
comments on how he is going to be instructing those roles to do that.

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