Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015; Consideration in Detail
I do not have the time to add cane fibre to the wood waste, which is a very similar argument. But I commend the government on protecting the principle, which was laid down by the Prime Minister, that, if the government has agreed and people have changed the goalposts, then it is very unfair. The goalposts should not be changed when someone has outlaid serious amounts of money. So I commend the government on what they are doing from that point of view.
As an ex-energy minister in Queensland, when I handed over to the socialists in 1990, we had the cheapest electricity in the world. I find now that I am the socialist in Queensland, not the ALP. The price for electricity was then $670 a megawatt and it stayed at that price until 2001, until deregulation. All the wonders of the free market came in and, under the wonders of the free market, we are now paying $2,460. It is a furphy for the government to say that that comes from renewables and all those things. The hypocrisy of the Labor Party, talking about the poor people! Heavens to Betsy! You have taken the cost of generating power from $30 a megawatt hour to $140 a megawatt hour. And I was on the committee of this parliament that had those figures put before it again, again and again. So they most certainly have contributed to that, but it is a very small contribution. It might account for $60 or $70, but it does not account for $2,400. It is the free marketeers, with their dock system, who can take all the credit for that.
If I had the time to move this, I would—and it should be in this amendment—bagasse from sugarcane fibre. You squeeze the sugar out, you turn the sugar into ethanol. The proposed power station, which is a huge ethanol plant south of Charters Towers and on the Burdekin River, the Upper Burdekin Irrigation Scheme, will reduce Australia's electricity emissions by one per cent. Just one single project will pick up half of the entire northern grid. Half of the power for the one million people who live in North Queensland will be picked up one single renewable power station, which does not put any pollution into the atmosphere at all. I represent the Barrier Reef, but I do not go along with global warming. However, there is a problem that arises in the oceans and that needs to be addressed.
Brazil now uses ethanol for 66 per cent of transport and if it is done the modern way that reduces carbon emissions by 72 per cent. So the answers are there. Yet the decision of the left-hand side and the right-hand side of this parliament is to send $25,000 million a year to Middle Eastern oil producers, instead of sending it into rural Queensland to enjoy petrol prices. America is now, by a long way, the biggest ethanol producer in the world. Americans are paying 62c at the bowser. We are paying 142c at the bowser. The Brazilians, last time I looked, were paying 67c at the bowser, not 142c.
So why aren't we doing it? Why are we having this huge argument here about RETs, which are absolutely ridiculous. The amount of reduction is negligible. And I speak with great authority, because I won a science prize for putting in the first stand-alone solar system in the world. It was in the middle of nowhere and solar energy is relevant in the middle of nowhere. It is most certainly not relevant when you put it on a roof in the middle of a big city. It takes your costs up straight through the roof! I applaud the government from that point of view, but I most certainly do not applaud them for the free-market policies which they and their political opponents enjoy and which has skyrocketed the electricity charges, from $670 to $2,460, in Queensland in the space of one decade, when they were static for the 10 years before that.
Again, I finish by saying the RETs and the agreements that were entered into by Mackay Sugar— (Time expired)