House debates

Monday, 29 May 2017



11:15 am

Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to support the member for Dawson's motion on common sense. Coal is here to stay. We rely on it for exports, electricity and jobs. In my neck of the woods, the Bowen Basin has been a dominant force in the Australian economy. We have just seen the greatest mining construction boom of our history. Despite the construction boom finishing, we are now recording record high quality thermal coal exports.

On energy production, there are three coal-fired power stations electorate of Flynn. NRG Gladstone has a 1,680 megawatt capacity and six turbines. In Biloela, CS Energy, which is government owned, control the Callide A, B and C power stations. Callide A has been decommissioned over the last couple of years, but that in itself puts 1,510 megawatts into the electricity grid. Then we have Stanwell, which is situated about 80 kilometres west of Rockhampton. It is a 1,445 megawatt capacity. These power stations have been around since the late sixties, early seventies and early eighties. They have a life expectancy of about another 10 years.

What do we do to replace electricity? It does not matter what renewables you come up with—be it 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent. I think that is impossible to achieve; but if you were to achieve it, how are you going to supply the next 50 per cent? That is the question that we, as Queenslanders and as Australians, have got to address and address it pretty quickly. That is because you cannot build a coal fired power station overnight. We are not like China, Japan and other countries around the world, who are investing in these power stations that involve clean energy and clean coal from Australia. Ninety-five per cent of Queensland's power at the moment is sourced from coal fired power stations, and four per cent is from renewables. They have got a long, long way to go to get it up to 30 per cent, 40 per cent or even 50 per cent by 2030, which I think and you must believe is impossible.

We have now gone, as the member for Kennedy has said, from the world's cheapest power to the world's most expensive. Boyne Island Aluminium Smelter, in my electorate, has to compete on a global basis with other aluminium producers, and now it is buying power at the dearest prices in the world. The Queensland government is just making a cash cow from our high electricity prices. It is economic vandalism. Ergon and Energex are reportedly paying about $2 billion in dividends to the Queensland state government. This is what is wrecking some of our supply of cheap energy to our markets. We are chasing away overseas investors and this will continue until such a time as we lower our prices and address the energy issue which is big for not only South Australia and not only Victoria but the whole of Australia.

The Queensland Resources Council tells us that one in seven Queenslanders are employed in the mining industry. Fifty cents in every dollar in Queensland comes from mining, and 59 per cent of that is from the mining of coal in Queensland and 23 per cent is from oil and gas. There are a lot of workers in central Queensland: 6,252 full-time employees, who are well paid. They pay a total of $886 million in wages. There are 2,444 Flynn-based businesses who rely on the coal industry and resource industry, amounting to $1.7 billion in revenue.

I would like to stress a few myths being thrown around by the anti-coal lobby. Myth 1 is that world coal consumption has slumped. This is rubbish. This is false. Despite those latte-sipping people who telling us what is happening in our own neck of the woods, this is wrong. Coal consumption has gone up by 42 per cent and supply has gone up by 47 per cent— (Time expired)


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