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Marinus Link - Funding Details


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Tags: Marinus Link

Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr FERGUSON

Tasmanians woke up today to news of the $3.5 billion deal to deliver Marinus Link plus a $1 billion loan for energy infrastructure upgrades, as we understand it. On their behalf, we want to understand how the state will pay its share and carry the associated billions in debt. Your colleague, the Energy minister, has confirmed that Tasmanian customers will ultimately pay 15 per cent of total project costs.

Can you lay out in clear language how a state already carrying significant debt, a state where your Government wants to spend $750 million on a stadium, will cope with this extra financial burden and where the money is coming from, given that the Premier could not answer the question?

Will you commit to tabling the cost allocation methodology so Tasmanians can understand what Marinus means for the state's debt levels and, critically, their power bills?

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, this Government strongly supports this massive investment coming for Tasmania, which will generate not hundreds but thousands of jobs, particularly as Marinus Link and the north-west transmission development lay out the opportunity and a new environment for massive investment around the state in Battery of the Nation and hydrogen assets.

This Government has worked diligently to drive the best outcome for our state in partnership with the Australian Government. We have defended to the hilt the Tasmanian taxpayer and energy customers in this state.

Ms O'Connor raises a legitimate question regarding debt and borrowings. We have been able to negotiate with the Australian Government concessional finance arrangements that mean our state is in a better position to be able to afford the ongoing costs for the life of the asset.

Ms O'Connor - Can you explain that?

Mr FERGUSON - We have done that as a Liberal Government because we understand the way that you can manage the state's finances and protect the future of our state.

Ms Finlay - He does not know where the money's coming from.

Mr FERGUSON - This is not what the Labor Party in this state are up to. The state Opposition in the Labor Party have played cat and mouse on Marinus Link for years and have only ever asked questions in this place and in the media in order to undermine those projects, to sow doubt and confusion. To this day, we do not know where state Labor stands on this project. They are playing cat and mouse.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. We did not ask a question about Labor's position on this. We asked a legitimate question about where the money is coming from, how the state will pay for it, and whether the Treasurer will table the cost methodology.

Mr SPEAKER - I understand that but standing order 45 does not allow me to tell the Treasurer how to connect his words so that they are relevant to the answer. I am sure I will give him enough time and opportunity to do that.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you for your ruling, Mr Speaker. I highlighted earlier that the member has asked a legitimate question regarding borrowings, and the Government will be having more to say about the nature of the agreement we have reached with the Australian Government - and the Victorian Government, for that matter -

Ms O'Connor - When will you say that?

Mr FERGUSON - Later in the day. I will emphasise what the Premier has already said

Ms O'Connor - So you cannot tell parliament but you will tell the media?

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr FERGUSON - Marinus Link and the north-west transition development will be regulated projects that will be beneficial to all customers. They will earn a regulated rate of return that is sufficient to not just service but also to recover the debt and provide a modest return on equity to owners. What this means is that over the life of the project there will be a sufficient income stream to fully pay off any borrowings associated with the project.

I will also say that while today is a groundbreaking day in reaching an important milestone for the journey that this project has travelled now over, I think, six years, it has been a long-term ambition for our Government and this side of politics to secure Tasmania's energy future, to droughtproof this state once and for all, and to allow other states to assist in a cleaner globe. We have less emissions from Tasmania's renewable expertise. To get to a final investment decision there is still more work to do. The Government takes a position that other beneficiaries of these important assets will be needed to make contributions as well. That is part of the work we will be undertaking over the next two years. One thing that will not happen under our Government is that we will take our eye off the ball of everyday mum and dad energy consumers in this state and our major industrials. We will protect them as a result of the way in which we have conducted our negotiations with the Commonwealth and nonetheless attracting new investments to the state.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. Before the minister sits down -

Mr SPEAKER - The minister has finished his answer. You have another opportunity to ask a further question if you wish.

Ms O'Connor - That was very sneaky, Mr Speaker. He knew he was going to be pulled up.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.