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Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Tags: Renewable Energy

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, the issues that we have heard about this morning make us very concerned about the ability of this minister to be honest about the serious issues in his portfolio. I listened carefully to the response that he made earlier and it sounds like he is covering himself in a whole lot of commercial-in-confidence which is actually not required.

There is no doubt that Basslink and the legal contractual arrangements that are being made regarding Basslink ought to be commercial-in-confidence but the actual dollar, the impact for Tasmanians, cannot be a matter of commercial-in-confidence. It must be known to Tasmanians and there is no reason at all expect the history of Hydro in liking to manage its own affairs behind closed doors and this government and this minister is facilitating that.

The problem is that we have an enormous amount of debt already on our balance sheets from Basslink 1. We have a minister who is proposing, mushrooming ideas with scores of billions of dollars of debt that would flow to Tasmanians, a minister who never provides any detail. This is another example of the minister hiding the detail of hundreds of millions of dollars - $100 million here - but also the supposed Marinus Link has never been provided a business case for Tasmanians.

Never has this minister done anything more than show us press releases for varying numbers of billions of dollars - 3.5, 4.1. He has never been clear with Tasmanians about who would pay for it. Yet it is abundantly clear from reading the national Integrated System Provider agreements and documents that this is a cost that overwhelmingly would be borne by Tasmanians. There is no way other states will be paying for a big bit of infrastructure kit like the Marinus Link when they are funding their own state's connectors and other large bits of the National Electricity Grid Network.

We know that when the minister talks about 'scores', 'large', 'hundreds of millions of dollars' or 'billions of dollars' without providing Tasmanians with any details it is because he is fundamentally trying to hide the fact that this is going to increase our living costs, our power prices indefinitely into the future - as we have already seen from the poor decisions that have been made by Hydro on a number of occasions, which has left us picking up the bill.

Ms O'Connor - Or the ones they have been forced into, loss-making contacts.

Dr WOODRUFF - So many loss-making contracts.

What we now have is a minister who manages his portfolios in secrecy. He allows the GBEs, TasNetworks and Hydro to go about their expansionist plans without providing us with any information, without providing the communities affected with real opportunities to engage, and definitely without obeying the federal Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act laws. We have written to the director of the EPA about this. Other people have written to the federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tania Plibersek, about the fact that we have an assessment process for the two largest pieces of infrastructure that are currently under way in Tasmania in the development stage - the north-west transmission corridor and the Robbins Island massive windfarm development - not being considered together.

This utterly contradicts section 527E of the EPBC Act that 'the indirect impacts of a development and other developments that are required to facilitate a particular development that are going ahead must be considered together'. We have to be able to consider the cumulative impacts not just of large windfarms like Robbins Island but also the transmission corridors that are required to go with it and at the end of that the so-called Marinus Link itself. At the moment, all of these things are pieces that are being moved around quietly behind the scenes on a big jigsaw puzzle that Hydro and TasNetworks are managing, and what we have is a minister who is covering for them.

While Tasmanians do not get to know the true cost to our energy bills, the true cost to electrification possibilities are being lost. We have a government is allowing in companies - potentially Woodside, Fortescue, Origin, we understand - and the minister has not denied this: some 99 per cent of the exports from the green hydrogen Bell Bay cluster that is being developed with the support of this minister and this Government will to go overseas for export. It is great to create green hydrogen for big companies like Woodside, Fortescue and Origin to go overseas for export as ammonia to be used in products elsewhere, that is fine. But what about Tasmania first? What about dealing with our need to electrify? What about the requirement to bring down our own emissions on island immediately? That is our first responsibility. We have to ensure that that new green hydrogen creation is going into Tasmania to electrify our large transport, our trains, the locomotives, the big transport. This is where we need to focus.

The work that we do, the mining, all of these things need to be greened up and the minister is hiding everything from Tasmanians, leaving it to Hydro network to make their own decisions.