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Energy and Climate

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Tags: Renewable Energy

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we need to put this conversation in context. The context was Tony Abbott as prime minister who signed up on behalf of the Australian people and the Australian nation to the Paris Agreement. This committed us to make our contribution to reducing our carbon dioxide emissions - those produced by fossil-fuelled power - so that we can do our part to stop the increasing warming of the planet and to try to mitigate against the most extreme forms of climate change, which we know to be occurring. Let us not forget that the agreement we struck in Paris was widely condemned by climate scientists who have been working in this field now for decades. They considered the agreement to be far below what is required to protect humans and every other animal and species living on planet Earth from the rapidly changing and increasingly volatile climate system that is occurring through the increasing warming. That is the context.

We have now had a succession of backflips and back steps by the Prime Minister in an attempt not to bring about good policy, not to bring about a delivery on that incredibly important commitment that Australia made, but to shore up his own power base and leadership in the Liberal Party; to shore up the business interests and to try to broker an agreement between the business interests that Tony Abbott represents. His incredibly close and strong lobbying is on behalf of the coal-fired power industries, who are determined to use their operational plants for as long as they possibly can to extract every bit of the investment that they made 30, 40, 50 years ago and to ensure that they continue to use brown and black coal. This is despite the fact that we know it is reducing the survival of so many species that are already affected by increasing temperatures.

The situation that we have now in the federal Liberal Party is the worst possible situation. We have a microcosm of that in the Tasmanian Liberal Party level. We have a federal senator, Eric Abetz, who is absolutely at odds with the Energy minister, Guy Barnett. We have an Energy minister who was prepared to sign Tasmania up to the National Energy Guarantee. If he had put his signature on that document, an agreement that we were a party to as a state, it would have been a disaster for the long-term benefit of our state. It would have committed us to a drastically reduced renewable energy target. Simon Holmes à Court, a climate scientist from Melbourne University, was in Tasmania a couple of weeks ago. He is the key writer in RenewEconomy. He knows everything about the renewable energy generation sector in Australia. Simon was one of 23 academics from 11 universities who wanted to see the modelling on which the National Energy Guarantee had been established. They asked for it, Mr Deputy Speaker, and guess what? There was nothing to give them. The best that Mr Barnett, on behalf of Tasmania, only a week before the signing was due to occur, could get was a summary of 10 pages. It was clear in that 10-

page summary that the pumped hydro battery of a nation scheme, which he has been spruiking as essential for Tasmania, is not a commitment that will occur.

Mr Barnett was signing up to something which was not going to provide what he says we have to have. It was all about, and was only ever about, Malcolm Turnbull coming to Tasmania and trying to get a few more votes for the Liberals at the state election. Let us not forget that is why he went, and the six to seven other pumped hydro promises that the Liberal prime minister made around Australia will also not be included.

The National Energy Guarantee, as it was designed, would keep the poor performing states, such as New South Wales, riding on the coat tails of Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria, other states which are trying to increase renewable energy. At this time, instead of producing more and more renewable energy across Australia, he would have signed us up to a whopping 12 megawatts of renewable generation until the better part of the next decade. We have 8000 megawatts locked in now until 2022, 8000 megawatts versus 12 megawatts under the NEG for the whole country. This is not the future that will secure Tasmania's safety and survival.