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Estimates Reply – Minister Barnett

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Tags: Fish Farms, Environment Protection Authority, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - The minister talked a whole bunch of mistruths about one of the things I wanted to raise from Estimates, which is Tasmania's brand. The minister has a delusion that he and this Liberal government can continue to flog our brand, utterly debase its authenticity, and think they can continue to get away with it.

Chair, it is very clear that consumers and people around Australia and in Tasmania - and, presumably global markets - are looking at authenticity and brands now more than ever. Unfortunately for Tasmania and Tasmania's trade exports, and for our clean and green brand, this government is trashing it and consumers are working it out. They are not stupid, and they will not put up with fake brands which are based on regulations that this government continues to uphold as world's best, when they are actually the world's worst.

There is a reason for why JBS is hovering around looking to hoover up one of our salmon farm industries. They know that Tasmania is open to plunder our oceans, to make a doubling of an industry, with essentially no oversight of the environmental impacts and the impacts on communities and on other businesses. There is no attempt by this government to do that and so what we are finding -

Ms Ogilvie - It is regulated. That is what regulation is.

Mr Tucker - We know you are a Twiggy Forrest supporter.

Ms Ogilvie - You are making no sense.

Dr WOODRUFF - What we are finding, Chair, is that this is -

Ms O'Connor - Do not lecture Dr Woodruff on the regulations. She actually understands them.

Dr WOODRUFF - This is in the papers. This is in -


Opposition members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Dr WOODRUFF - This is in the papers, in the Australian. Ms Ogilvie might like to open the newspaper and find out what Australians are saying about Tasmania. It is abundantly clear that not only is -

Ms Ogilvie - You just said there was no regulation and there is.

Dr WOODRUFF - Not only has the World Wildlife Foundation dumped the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification process because it has failed to protect Tasmania's environment, it has an obvious flow-on effect which we have been warning this Government about for years. It will catch up with you. You cannot pretend. You might keep saying it but you cannot pretend to people that it is not having an effect and they are seeing it. They are seeing it and consumers are seeing through the rubbish and the spin and will not buy a pretence of an independent EPA which this Government is putting up. They will not buy it. They will not buy another Trojan horse.

When Woolworths is reviewing the stocking of Tasmanian salmon on the basis of the World Wildlife Fund pulling out of an ASC certification process, we should be concerned because of what it says about our environment. Fundamentally, we should be concerned about what it says about sustainable industries in Tasmania.

We can have a sustainable salmon industry in Tasmania. It has a whole lot of hoops to jump through and the Government just has to put them in place. We have to do that because it is the only way that we can protect our marine environment, protect the beautiful natural values that exist in Tasmania and nowhere else and look after the future of people who are working in rural and regional Tasmania in an industry which could be sustainable.

The other area that I want to mention, of course, is that this Estimates showed that despite all the big talk and the chest beating, this Government does not have answers to some of the biggest questions in our future renewable energy planning. Under questioning, I uncovered from Mr Barnett that despite this big talk about 200 per cent renewable energy targets, planning to 2040, he could not give an answer to whether there was any planning for the lifetime of the end date for Basslink 1 and whether there would be a replacement Basslink 1 in line at the end of that. It has been estimated we have 10 to 15 years for Basslink 1. We just do not know. Concerningly, Mr Barnett does not know what the plan would be beyond that. Meanwhile, apparently, we have plans out to 2040 of how much renewable energy we have been producing but no conversation about whether or not we need a Basslink and if we need Basslink, how it is going to be refinanced and who will pay for it. These are huge questions that the minister either genuinely is not putting his mind to or quite more possibly has put his mind to and is not prepared to share that with Tasmanians.

We also confirmed that Hydro made a statement saying that they were not prepared under any terms to provide 250 megawatts of power to Fortescue Future Industries' 'Twiggy' Forrest in relation to green hydrogen. It is very uncertain exactly why they would say that because 250 megawatts, as I found out through Mr Barnett and Mr Terry who is on staff, is much smaller than the possible 650 or 1000 megawatts that might be used or required for a substantially-sized green hydrogen plant. On the one hand we have Hydro saying that they cannot provide 250 megawatts and on the other hand we have the possibility that green hydrogen might require 650 or 1000 megawatts to produce.

We have some big questions here about the role of Hydro and why the Government has set up the new Renewables Climate and Future Industries Tasmania and where the tensions are between these two bodies, one which is a GBE and the other which is under Treasury and the Office of the Coordinator-General. We have to have clarity about the sort of negotiations that we are doing with corporations in Tasmania's interest for the long-term and, if not the actual contract that has been struck between bodies for power purchase agreements, we must have the criteria on which those contracts are based.

In the ACT, they have been lucky enough to have forward-thinking governments that have put in place reverse auctions for power purchase agreements. We need to have this in Tasmania because it will drive the best price for Tasmanians and drive the best price for people. For those who have bills to pay it will drive those bills down. It is the only way to do it.

If we continue to have the secret deals that we have got, we have governments trying to attract industries, they are wandering around the state, trying to stitch up deals with landowners for wind farms here and wind farms there. There is no plan, no openness and no accountability. There is no structure that involves public conversations about where large pieces of infrastructure should exist in Tasmania and the criteria for how we are going to establish power purchase agreements which will go into the 30-, 40- and 50-year future horizons.

I raise Tas Gas and Tasmanian Gas Pipeline. It is pretty clear that although the Government says it wants to look at a green hydrogen certification process - and I think that was genuine - the fact is they are terribly inconsistent. They are in a difficult situation when they want to retain Tas Gas and Tasmanian Gas Pipeline and throw a lifeline to them for financial viability, while at the same time having a genuine, authentic green hydrogen brand for Tasmania.

It comes back to authenticity; it comes back to putting your money where your mouth is. We cannot sell green hydrogen and at the same time be importing fossil fuel powers. We must resolve that conundrum. At the moment we import fossil fuel powers; we are only 95 per cent renewable. The Government is utterly conflicted on this and they need to be straight with Tasmanians about what is going on.