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Joint Select Committee on Energy Matters in Tasmania

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 28 September 2023

Tags: Marinus Link, Energy Security

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Tucker for bringing this motion to the House.  It is past time.  He has done a good job of drawing together a very comprehensive proposal for a request that the Legislative Council participate with this House in a joint select committee into the issue of planning for our energy future, planning our response to the climate crisis and planning for the safety and resilience of everyone in this state - and planning for the level of debt openly and in conversation with Tasmanians because every amount of debt that we take on as a government has impacts for future generations. 

The Greens have never resiled from taking on debt for good public infrastructure.  That is something we fundamentally support and believe.  If it is in the public interest, that is the job of government.  There is no doubt that having a rapid transition to 100 per cent renewables and 100 per cent green energy, particularly the electrification of our transport system, is critical and it is urgent.  These are issues for the Tasmanian state.  So, we support this inquiry. 

I have not had a chance to flag this with Mr Tucker but the Greens think that sub-clause (a)(iii) needs to look at not only challenges related to the electric energy supply in Tasmania, including 'the expansion of State-owned renewable energy generation, including associated community and economic benefits', but also the environmental issues in relation to the expansion and challenges of energy supply in Tasmania.  There are huge issues.  That is one of the matters this Government has failed to attend to - understanding the impacts on nature and the concerns of many people in the community, particularly in the north and north west about the placement of large transmission lines.  Under the Government's plans, these could go from one side of the north to the other.  That goes through viable agricultural farmland, through Tasmania's reserve estate, through forests that contain intact communities and threatened species.  This needs planning and that is what the Government has failed to deliver.  Or, if the minister does attest that there has been planning, no one in Tasmania, other than a few select people the minister has chosen, have any understanding of what has been decided.  

The debacle we have been through trying to get information about the true cost of Marinus Link shows that, despite what the minister and his Government say, they are still addicted to secrecy and to hiding information from Tasmanians about gross levels of debt into the future.  There has been enormous goal-shifting just in the last five years from this minister.  In June this year, the minister said the two cables of Marinus and the North West Transmission Line development would cost $3.8 billion.  But now the boon he is delivering to Tasmanians is one cable and it is going to cost $2.4 billion in debt.  The unknown latest cost estimate for the North West Transmission Line development is on top of that.  This is all before a decision has been made on the investment process, which will not happen until the end of next year.  

We were going to have two 750 megawatt Marinus Link cables.  Instead we are just going to have one.  We do not call one for the price of two a bargain.  We want to know what has happened between 6 June and when the minister made that statement only a few months later.  

Clearly, people are being told at time points that suits this Government what the true costs are.  We need a comprehensive select committee with the opportunity to fully investigate the interrelationship of the private operators and generators, Hydro Tasmania and TasNetworks.  They are all interconnected.  It is about state-owned energy generators but also Hydro gives power purchase agreements to private windfarm companies and solar companies.  That costs the taxpayer and it gives us a debt to the future.  Unless we have this investigation, we are concerned that the Liberals are walking us into a future debt that we have no knowledge about and, according to the National Electricity Market regulations, Tasmanians will be paying through the nose for in their power bills for decades to come. 

We know that Basslink is becoming a regulated asset now and so Tasmanians are, once again, going to be paying for the cost of that asset through power bills.  We have had 100 per cent reversal from the Government and that is why we need this committee.