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Energy Security

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Tags: Renewable Energy, Climate Change

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, the Labor Party's motion to talk about energy security is welcome. I consider there are some members on both sides of the Chamber who would do well to revisit the history. When Basslink went down in December 2015, it was the result of a number of factors. It was a perfect storm of bureaucrats who failed to listen to the climate science.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Japan in May 2015, predicted the early warning of a super El Nino. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology in July 2015, was warning - large alarm bells - that the summer of 2015 16 was going to be a super El Nino. Drought was already occurring across mainland Australia and the rain had stopped falling on crops in winter and spring. When we came into spring in 2015, our dams were low. When we got into late spring/early summer, our dams were really low. They were in the low 20s.

It was ringing warning bells because we had an agreement - a number which we would not drop our dams below. Yet, what came out subsequently, was that Hydro was speculating and selling our water for money to the mainland as electricity to make some profit. It left us in a predictably appalling situation for summer. I guess they thought they could skate through but, unfortunately, a grand majeure intervened and there was a fault in the cable.

Whether it went down as a result of that trading and pushing electrons across the cable, that is a matter that only Keppel, Hydro and a bunch of legal people know the answer to. Tasmanians do not, even people in this place. Taxpayers have no idea what caused Basslink to fail. For more three months, Tasmanians were without an electricity cable connection to the mainland. It cost us a fortune.

Thanks to the minister, Matthew Groom, going on holidays over the summer, there was a lack of care from this Government about keeping an eye on the issues that drive energy security and the things that matter to Tasmania.

Today things have changed. Six years later the Liberals are still denying the climate reality. The Labor Party is also denying climate reality. All we are talking about are these blokey nuts and bolts, but we are not looking at what is driving this massive transformation of our energy systems worldwide, that is accelerating climate heating.

Climate heating is requiring us to rapidly change our energy systems. We cannot continue to use fossil fuel power. We have not heard from the minister. We had no comments from Labor except that they seemed to be concerned that one day we might stop using the Tamar Valley Power Station. Gas is a fossil fuel. What is the plan for when we will no longer be able to use gas in Tasmania? When will that day be? What are the conversations being had with the federal government about the trade sanctions imposed on Australia if we do not do something real to manage climate change?

In Tasmania we understand that we need to protect carbon stores. That is what the Greens are talking about. That is what the Government needs to focus on. That is the source of our current net zero emissions position but it cannot be guaranteed. Nothing can be guaranteed unless we look at protecting and growing carbon stores.

In Tasmania we cannot make sure people do not end up without electricity or in energy poverty unless we have a plan to stop using gas. What is happening with the Tas Gas negotiations? There is a new contract being negotiated now. What are the deals that are being struck? How long are we signing Tasmanians up to continue to rely on fossil fuel when we have other options such as green hydrogen?

Our green hydrogen has to be certified as not being produced by fossil fuels. We have a lot of work to do in that space. Fossil fuels are driving part of our system. We are connected to the mainland. How are we going to manage this situation in the future?

It is important that the minister is open with Tasmanians about the costs for the plans he has for Marinus, Battery of the Nation and green hydrogen. There are many moving pieces and most of them involve billions of dollars of public expenditure. We need to hear more about how our funds will be spent in the future.