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Premier Determined to See Second Basslink Cable

3 May 2016

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.10 a.m.]

Tasmanians are angry that Basslink became the vehicle for running our dams down to record lows and into crisis.  Given the state of our hydro storages, despite the rain, and your Government's lack of action over increased renewables, what possible economically sound basis do you think there is for building a second Basslink?  What are you and the Prime Minister thinking we might export over the second cable?  Can you give us just one renewable energy generation project your Government plans to deliver in this term?  What is your response to Bell Bay CEO, Ray Mostogl, on this question when he said, 'We drained the dams with one cable; imagine what we could do with two'.

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and for pointing to a quotation that goes to the practices under a former Labor-Greens government.  As we have demonstrated, there was rampant draining of Tasmania's water storage levels under a Labor-Greens government.  You did not seem too worried about our storages back then, nor indeed about our environment, but that is what the record shows.

What was announced last week was a very important and sensible decision by state and federal governments to explore the case for a second Basslink interconnector.  Not only do our current circumstances demonstrate the importance of having redundancy in the event of a failure, they also present a great opportunity for Tasmania's renewable energy sector, providing additional capacity to export a valuable commodity - renewable energy into the National Electricity Market.

That is the third important reason that what we are proposing be considered and assessed properly, including through federal government agencies, to ensure that Tasmania's place in the national electricity market can be restored as soon as possible, but also maximising our part in the market.  That cannot be because of an unexpected and highly unprecedented extended outage of the single Basslink cable.  A second interconnector is obvious in terms of its merit.

As the minister has said on a number of occasions, we are very keen, once we are through our current difficult circumstances, to further advance our capacity for renewal generation.  That is what we are endeavouring to do and will continue to do after getting through these difficult circumstances. 

What was announced last week was a sensible decision to engage federal and state government agencies at a national level to understand the feasibility of a second interconnector and to understand how it might be funded.  Importantly, it was to give Tasmanians a true understanding of whether it will be a viable and feasible project into the future.  It is extraordinary that the Greens would not even want this to be properly assessed and would not even want a feasibility study.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, I warn the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor, for repeated interjections.

Mr HODGMAN - Tasmania's renewable energy growth has largely come off the back of our Basslink interconnector.  For the Greens, who claim to be champions of the renewable sector, to not want us to have additional capacity to export renewable energy is extraordinary, because this could provide a catalyst for further renewable energy development in this state, which is what we want to see happen.

Most importantly for those who oppose a second interconnector - who do not even want government to consider its feasibility or viability - I remind members opposite and the broader Tasmanian public of their opposition to the initial Basslink cable.  I remind them of their opposition to renewable energy development.  Who could ever forget the former leader of the Greens, Nick McKim, famously and very graphically describing wind turbines as 'parrot blenders'.  That was not a very supportive statement to make about our renewable sector.

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Constant shouting at a minister is unacceptable.  I lost count of the number of questions that were in that alleged one question.  That does not give the Greens the right to yell at the Premier or any other member.  I am sick of yelling 'order' and completely being ignored in the House.  I try give warnings, but if members are so disorderly then I will be forced to eject them.