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Energy Generation from Native Forest Biomass


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Tags: Biomass, Native Forest Logging

Energy Generation from Native Forest Biomass, Cassy O'Connor MP, 10 November 2020

 

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for CLIMATE CHANGE, Mr GUTWEIN

As leader of our state and minister for such a critical portfolio, you have a responsibility to do everything you can to help secure a climate-safe future. This was never going to be easy, but it is the job you signed up for. Unfortunately, instead of transitioning away from climate destructive industries, it seems your Government is more interested in opening new ones. We already knew the Tasmanian Liberal Party supports a local thermal coal export industry, and now your Minister for Energy has made clear he wants to burn native forests for energy generation.

As you know, because we wrote to you with the detail, energy generation via biomass, such as native forest products, has been condemned by leading scientists for its 'massive climate effects'. Put simply, establishing forest furnaces in lutruwita/Tasmania would be a climate and biodiversity disaster.

Your Energy minister wants any excuse to tear down more native forests, but we do not think you agree with him on this one. No Climate Change minister serious about their portfolio would even contemplate burning native forests for energy, let alone condone it. Will you today pull your minister into line and rule out the burning of wood and other products from native forests as a future source of energy generation in lutruwita/Tasmania?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question and her interest in this matter. I believed she acknowledged that concerning climate change and our emissions and the position we have at the moment, Tasmania is doing very well -

Ms O'Connor - Because of our forests.

Mr GUTWEIN - We can both agree that we are doing well - four years in a row with zero net emissions, going brilliantly.

Ms O'Connor - You can thank the Labor-Greens government for that - the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

Mr GUTWEIN - We are going brilliantly and I am very proud to be the Climate Change minister for the jurisdiction in this country that is not only leading this country but is one of the world-leading climate change -

Ms O'Connor - What about biomass?

Mr GUTWEIN - jurisdictions in regard to actions.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please. I am struggling to hear.

Mr GUTWEIN - I know we have a difference of opinion regarding the need for a native forest hardwood industry -

Ms O'Connor - Have you replied to the doctors yet? We're with the science.

Mr GUTWEIN - Regarding what you have suggested, you are completely wrong, completely off the page and the minister has recently written to you on this matter.

Ms O'Connor - Yes, he said 'wood waste' in that letter.

Mr GUTWEIN - Residues are a lot different from knocking over a native forest to put into, as you put it, 'the forest furnaces'. I can assure you that is not going to occur. It is simply more scaremongering from the Greens on this.

The Government has been consistent and we have always intended that renewable energy targets toward the TRET would be based on solar, water and wind. The harvesting of native forests specifically for renewable energy production is not part of the TRET. We announced publicly weeks ago, and I understand the member was briefed last week by the minister's office and the minister wrote to you yesterday again to confirm that once more that what is in the TRET is solar, water and wind.

Ms O'Connor - Have you read the letter? Did you read it?

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - To ensure that the Leader of the Greens and this parliament are comfortable with what we are proposing, we will be ensuring that any new renewable energy source to be declared by this Minister for Energy or a future minister for energy, will be through a disallowable instrument, giving the parliament -

Ms O'Connor - You're welcome. That was our proposal and good on you for accepting it.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - So we are on the same page on that one?

Ms O'Connor - About that, yes.

Mr GUTWEIN - We are on the same page. I am not sure what page we are not on on this

Ms O'Connor - Rule out native forest biomass.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - I am not sure what page we are not on. On this side of the House we accept that we will have a native hardwood industry. You have done your best to make it a much smaller one than what it was a few years ago, but at the end of the day it is an important industry that provides jobs for Tasmanians in what is a renewable industry.

I am not sure where the Leader of the Greens is going on this -

Ms O'Connor - We want you to rule it out.

Mr GUTWEIN - The reason I say that is because on so many issues the Greens have changed their view. They backed coal once. I remember when I was a boy Bob Brown was backing coal. They backed hydro but they are starting to go wobbly on that. Interestingly enough, they used to back wind farms. I can remember a certain Greens member in this place calling them parrot-blenders and working hard to shut them down. You will change your mind on matters when it suits you.

The Minister for Energy has made the Government's position perfectly clear to the Greens. Regarding any change to the TRET, which is focused on solar, water and wind, if there is to be any change in any new renewable energy source to be declared by the Minister for Energy, it is this parliament that will make that decision, whether it be this current Minister for Energy or a future one.