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Energy Minister Attack on Mostogl


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tags: Energy, Hydro, Tamar Valley Power Station, Public Accounts Committee

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for ENERGY, Mr GROOM

Having been complicit in the dividend policy which drove Hydro to push the limits of risk, to recommend selling the Tamar Valley Power Station to sell precious power on the mainland in a drought, to flog the gas that could have been used to fire up Tamar Valley, you have now launched a quite incredible attack on Bell Bay CEO, Ray Mostogl.

Government members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Members on my right.

Ms O'CONNOR - Your response to Mr Mostogl's criticism of both your performance and Hydro's was to accuse him of acting out of corporate self-interest.  Do you acknowledge that Mr Mostogl was representing the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council when he gave an honest assessment to the Public Accounts Committee?  Why is your government attacking the major industrials instead of accepting responsibility for squeezing Hydro?  Will you now apologise to Mr Mostogl?

Government members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I remind the House it is disorderly to interject during a member's question.

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question, but what a joke.  The greatest threat to major industry in this state is the potential for a future Greens-Labor government.  Who would forget, under the former Greens-Labor government, an intent by that government to chase out investment, destroy jobs and undermine economic prosperity, in particular in regional parts of the state.  Who could forget the record high unemployment, the reckless budget mismanagement that we saw under the former government.  For Ms O'Connor to purport to be a friend of major industry in this state is a joke.  It is not credible and it stands in stark contrast to the record of this government. 

This government has constructive engagement with major industry in this state.  We have done so consistently and we will continue to do so because we recognise the importance of major industry.  That is why it is that we worked with the major industries on things like, for example, the $52 million reinvestment at Nyrstar, which has been supporting significant jobs in this state.  That is why we have worked with Rio to secure important opportunities for that business.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order.  Standing Order 195, concerning relevance.  A simple question to the minister, will he apologise to Mr Mostogl for slurring him?

Madam SPEAKER - No, this is not an opportunity to re-ask the questions that were put to the minister.  It is not based on relevance at all and you know that.  Latitude was given in the asking of the question.  The minister has given the same latitude in answering.

Mr GROOM - Madam Speaker, I can assure the member that I have a very positive and constructive engagement with Mr Mostogl.

Mr Green - Have you spoken to him since?

Mr GROOM - Of course I have.  We have constant engagement, and it is constructive and positive.  What has been reinforced to me through all of that engagement is the recognition of major industry in this state; of the commitment that this Government has shown to grow our economy, to track investment, and to help create jobs.

That is why we have worked with Nyrstar.  That is why we have worked with Rio to secure important business opportunities.  It is why we have worked with Norske Skog, to facilitate reinvestment in that operation.  It is why we advocated for a good outcome on the RET for major industry in this state.  When the Opposition was nowhere to be seen on that issue, it was this side of the House that was advocating for major industry, to make sure that they were not adversely impacted by those arrangements.  We recognise the importance of these industries.  It is simply an observation of fact that major industry has commercial interests and we should all recognise that.

That is why it is not appropriate to be engaging in commercial negotiations through this Parliament or a committee or through the media.  That is not an appropriate thing to do.  What we will do, is we will make sure that we stand with major industry to secure opportunities in this state.  We will make sure in those engagements that we will defend the interests of Tasmania; that we will stand up for households and for small business, and the broader interests of the state, as the Tasmanian people would expect us to do.  To be getting lectures from the Greens in relation to our constructive engagement with major industry is a joke and I reject it absolutely.