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State Development, Construction and Housing – Paladin Hydrogen

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Hydrogen, Coal, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Moving on to a different topic slightly, this is about the work of the Coordinator-General's office. My colleague Dr Woodruff asked you earlier about your meeting with the proponents of a coal to-hydrogen project and the Sri Lankan Government on 18 January this year and you didn't want to go into any details. This was a bit weird because I met with Mr Hodgson and I'd be happy to tell anyone about that meeting because we wanted to understand how you could possibly think turning coal into hydrogen was green power when it’s clear that it's not.

Have you or your staff or any other government officials had any other meetings with Paladin Hydrogen, or what they now call themselves, Hydrogen Ready Carbon Mining Pty Ltd (HRCM).

Mr BARNETT - Thank you very much for the question. It's obvious that the Greens have a different view to the Government with respect to our productive industries, growing our economy and creating more jobs. This is on the public record and I don't need to go into that too much more -

Ms O'CONNOR - Why do you say that sort of rubbish before you answer a question? You didn't say anything to Mrs Alexander when you gave her the straightest answer at this table that you've given all day.

Mr BARNETT - You have asked the question and the Government has a disposition to support development, growth and jobs to support our research sector, to support our productive industries -

Ms O'CONNOR - That is not my question.

Mr BARNETT - I have met with them, as you've indicated. I haven't got the date with me but I assume it's around the date you refer to. It was a very productive meeting. I don't go into details of private meetings. I am not aware of other meetings of other government officials, but it’s possible, so I'm more than happy for the secretary or the deputy secretary to respond to assist you.

Ms O'CONNOR - I don't want you to deflect to the secretary or the deputy secretary. It might be a question for Mr Perry but can you confirm the Office of the Coordinator General has been providing direct to Paladin Hydrogen?

Mr BARNETT - I am not the Coordinator General. As minister, the Coordinator General is sitting on my right. I am happy for the Coordinator General to respond to your question.

Mr PERRY - We have met with Paladin, probably at the same time, and we have had no further meetings.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is reassuring. Can Mr Perry confirm or not that the Office of the Coordinator General has been working with Paladin Hydrogen on a potential site to turn dirty black coal into hydrogen using clean Tasmanian power?

Mr BARNETT - Again, this is highlighting your disposition.

Ms O'CONNOR - When we talk about renewable energy and clean energy the Greens mean it. I know, authenticity. The science would probably have a similar view to ours.

Mr BARNETT - We are the renewable energy state with the big renewable energy agenda and we would love to have your support for our renewable energy plans.

Ms O'CONNOR - Not for Marinus. You will never have our support because you will break the bank with Marinus and I don't think it will ever be built.

Mr BARNETT - I am not sure of any renewable project that you have ever supported.

Ms O'CONNOR - I don't answer your questions but I refer to my conversation with Leon Compton on wind energy where I supported many. I don't care what you think of me but it is an important question because there are brand issues here if we become a state that decides to turn coal into hydrogen and pretend it is clean energy or green energy. So, has the Office of the Coordinator General been working with Paladin Hydrogen on a potential site?

Mr BARNETT - Let's refer that question to the Coordinator General.

Mr PERRY - We have had preliminary discussions about site selection which we do with multiple proponents and that is as far as it has gone.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you believe to turn coal into hydrogen is clean energy production?

Mr BARNETT - I believe in a renewable energy future and have strong support as you know, consistent with our Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan which has been in the public arena for some time. It is very comprehensive.

Ms O'CONNOR - I didn't ask you that.

Mr BARNETT - We have big plans for growing our green hydrogen industry here in Tasmania.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you believe turning coal into hydrogen produces green energy? It is the second time I have asked a direct question and you didn't answer earlier.

Mr BARNETT - I have referred you to our policy which is very comprehensive.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, Paladin Hydrogen's plan is not mentioned in your policy as far as I know, is it? No. That is right, so why would you refer me to something that is irrelevant?

Mr BARNETT - Because you have asked me about our Government's policy and I have referred you to our plan.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, I have asked you whether as Energy minister and minister for State Growth you believe, or are prepared to accept, that turning coal into hydrogen is clean energy production.

Mr BARNETT - I believe in growing our economy, creating more jobs, building a renewable energy future and I believe in science.

Ms O'CONNOR - If you had believed in science when you were resources minister you would have ended native forest logging.

Mr BARNETT - That is where we disagree in terms of native forestry. The Labor government in Victoria have just closed it down. The Labor/Greens government will absolutely put it at risk.

Ms O'CONNOR - Is turning coal into hydrogen clean energy?

Mr BARNETT - We support green hydrogen.

Ms O'CONNOR - Is coal fired hydrogen green hydrogen?

Mr BARNETT - That is the fourth time I think you have asked that question. We have a strong disposition to green hydrogen.