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Affordable and Reliable Energy

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Tags: Renewable Energy, Energy Security, Climate Change

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, this is an incredibly childish level of conversation about such a serious issue.  We have a government which is failing to answer questions and failing to be transparent with Tasmanians about the money their Government is proposing to either attract in investment and therefore forgo other investments that could be attracted to Tasmania, or spend from Tasmanians' hard-earned taxes themselves.  That is what the Government is doing.  They are being utterly silent about the commitments that are being made and the cost to Tasmania of the large sources of power generation and distribution that are on the table at the moment - Marinus, Battery of the Nation, green hydrogen and all the other investments that are on the table in Tasmania. 

On the other side of the Chamber we have an opposition party that has no position, no conversation about removing emissions being a top‑order priority, nothing to say except to have a fairly puerile level of discussion about such an important issue. 

The Greens look at every decision that is made in this space through the prism of looking at reducing emissions as a matter of urgency and making sure that Tasmanians have ownership of generation and supply, so that we have security for ourselves, so that we take responsibility for our emissions and we ensure that the investments and expenses we put into renewable generation are the best possible spend for the dollar. 

What Tasmanians want, and what the Greens will demand for them, every time is total transparency about these enormous decisions that are being made secretly behind closed doors by men in suits, most of the time.  I reflect on my experience of sitting at the Energy table at Estimates.  It was quite interesting.  I was sitting there and on one side of the table, all men, and on the other side of the table, all men, and everyone who was speaking was a man.  These decisions are made by old establishment thinking, fundamentally.  They are not about being nimble, being on the margins, being adaptive.  They are all about setting stuff, being part of the big players on the mainland. 

We have to be very careful, because this is our children's future we are making decisions about.  A safe climate, which this is all essentially about, is a very small side-order matter of discussion when most of these conversations are being had behind closed doors in Tasmania and on the mainland with all the electricity market players. 

Let us talk about what we need.  We need some answers, because at the moment what is on the table is that Tasmanians will be expected to pay for infrastructure that does not benefit us.  In Tasmania we desperately need to reduce the emissions that we ourselves create.  Around 50 per cent of our emissions come from liquid fuels.  There is no plan at all from this Government for how to electrify our transport.  I know; I asked the questions in Estimates.  There is no planning for TasRail to replace locomotives, so if we buy another locomotive and we sign up again for another diesel locomotive for TasRail, that is 30 years into the future of burning fossil fuels. 

The minister could not answer a question about green hydrogen and how much of the off-take was going to stay in Tasmania.  The reason he did not answer that question is because it seems, from what we understand, that about 99 per cent of the green hydrogen that is being talked about being produced by Woodside, Fortescue and other companies in the green hydrogen cluster, is all going to go overseas in the form of ammonia to be used at the other end, exported, sold on the global market.  That is fine.  We have no problems with that, except that first of all, if $70 million of Tasmania's money and $70 million of federal money is being used to generate a green hydrogen industry in Tasmania, it should first be about electrifying Tasmania's transport system.  Those electrons should be used in Tasmania to create a green hydrogen TasRail system, to create the sources of electricity we will need so that our industries can stand above others on the planet.  However, the minister just goes ahead and has all these secret conversations with Woodside and Fortescue.  As if that is going to provide the security and the growth that Tasmanians need - nor real jobs. 

I can be pretty sure that a green hydrogen industry is not about long-term sustainable jobs.  In the short-term, it might be about construction, and after that, most of those jobs will be in Melbourne from a tower because it will be electrified.

Dr Mountain's report from the Victoria Energy Policy Centre was very clear, with an update in November last year, about the analysis of the economics and the greenhouse gas impact of Marinus Link; and Battery of the Nation made it really clear - there are questions that have never been answered by this Government about the fact that it does not stack up.  It does not stack up for an investment from the federal government in the order of $7 billion to go into an industry which is already being replaced; a generation of electricity and a stabilising capacity like pumped hydro that is already being replaced every single day on the mainland by long-storage batteries.

Super-sized, long-storage batteries are replacing the need for that sort of firming in our distribution system.  The minister never provides any answers.

Time expired.