You are here

Battery of the Nation

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 18 October 2018

Tags: Renewable Energy, IPCC, TasNetworks

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I have had a number of conversations with the minister about this. I want to return to the questions I asked him in budget Estimates that he repeatedly refused to answer. You were chairing that session, Mr Deputy Speaker, at the time and you noted my continued questions about the same topic because the minister repeatedly failed to answer them. What I asked was in response to the minister's spruiking of the vast possibility of rivers of money flowing to Tasmania from pumped hydro. I asked the simple question about where the $5 billion the minister said such a project would cost was going to come from. What we know from the Mercury's work reported about six months ago is that the total borrowings of TasNetworks and Hydro Tasmania are already at $2.65 billion. That is a state debt. That $5 billion has to be looked at in the context of that existing statewide debt.

There is so much hot air around this pumped hydro project it is hard not to be deeply concerned when it is coming from a Tasmanian Liberal Government on the back of a federal Liberal Government that has as its new minister a person who is a strong proponent for the coal lobby and the continuation of coal.

Mr Barnett - Sorry?

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, it is pretty clear that is exactly the Prime Minister's position. He is definitely furthering the continuation of coal-fired power and fossil fuel power for as long as they can possibly bleed the global climate system of it.

Let us not forget this Tasmanian situation is purportedly in the context of managing problems within the National Electricity Market. I draw the attention of the House to the Australian Energy Market Operators Report from July 2018, an Integrated System Plan for the National Electricity Market. The integrated system plan makes a number of observations. Under their table of key observations on page 5, it says that:

For the future of a successful NEM, maintaining existing coal-fired generation up to the end of its technical life is a key element of a least-cost approach. When existing thermal generation reaches the end of its technical life and retires, the most cost-effective replacement of its energy production based on current cost projections is flexible thermal capacity, including gas-fired generation and transmission amongst renewable energy, energy storage and distributed energy resources.

It is really clear that the federal Liberal Government is doing everything it can to maintain Australia's dependence on fossil fuels and maintain the coal industry's profits that are coming from an electricity-generating product that is killing the ecosystems that human, animal and plant life depend upon.

Here we are today when the IPCC has delivered its most recent report that gives us, according to the estimates of scientists who have done the work on the global carbon budget, 20 years to get rid of our dependence on coal.

Zero to 2 per cent within 22 years is what we are aiming for.

Mr Brooks - You want to shut every coal mine, is that right?

Dr WOODRUFF - Of course we have to shut every coal mine. There is no doubt that we have to shut every coal mine. We have to work towards that, which is why a national electricity market that is based on maintaining coal-fired power stations to the end of their technical life is a dangerous plan that should be resisted by governments that are governing for their people.

How is it possible that $5 billion is the best spend the Tasmanian Government can make for the future of our people, looking at all the needs we need to address for climate change, not just electricity generation but also our dependence on liquid fuels? Why isn't this minister putting the effort and energy into coming up with a plan for reducing our state's dependence on liquid fossil fuels? There is no plan. While he is swanning around having high-end meetings and feeling really pumped up about being addressed as an important person by his federal Liberal Party colleagues, he should be putting much more attention into the real critical issues right here and now, which is a plan for action on climate change, and pushing with all the other ministers in Cabinet for a state climate change act that has real-term actions in it.

We have the Snowy 2.0 which will cost the federal government $4.5 billion and will allow coal-fired power stations to run flat at the most efficient levels for them to continue a constant load. It will enable the continuation of coal-fired power. That is where the federal Liberal Party have made a commitment to supporting that project. They have no commitment to supporting pushing down emissions from coal-fired power stations, and that is what we have to do.