House debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Climate Change

3:45 pm

Photo of John McVeighJohn McVeigh (Groom, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It's a great pleasure to speak on the government's energy policy, and I do so with a particular focus on the facts. Those opposite clearly ignore the energy policy that this government has put in place. As the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction explained earlier, we're in fact leading the pack on an international basis, and I wish to refer to some of those facts here in this debate.

We have, as the minister said quite clearly, a very strong track record. We're beating our emissions targets. But, most particularly, we are doing that in a responsible way whilst keeping our economy strong. As the minister outlined, we will overachieve our 2020 target by some 367 million tonnes. That's a turnaround of the emissions debt that we inherited when we took office, the 755-million-tonne shortfall that we had to turn around, and that is significant progress indeed.

The coalition took to the recent election our significant $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package. That mapped out plans to achieve those tonnes that we've achieved thus far and to continue to do so, down to the very last tonne. We're going to continue to meet our Paris targets. As I said, progress is exceeding what was originally planned. We're supporting farmers, businesses and Indigenous communities in reducing greenhouse gases through the Climate Solutions Fund as well. Electricity prices obviously remain a focus of the government, so bringing on new electricity generation projects is part of that plan. We're talking, of course, about Snowy 2.0 and the Battery of the Nation, which is a significant development not only for the state of Tasmania but for Tasmania supporting the rest of the country.

With the national power supply dependent to the tune of 85 per cent on reliable traditional sources, our economy is in fact witnessing a supplementary and record $25 billion renewables investment across 18,800 megawatts of new wind and solar projects. That generation is predicted to increase by some 250 per cent over the next three years. By contrast, the Labor Party and the Greens only have presented plans to the Australian people that would destroy industry—destroy, for us in regional Australia, agricultural industry in particular—at the same time as not providing for an energy future for our nation at all.

Particularly when you're in regional Australia, as I am, you get down to the facts. You want to understand what is really happening on the ground. Let me refer to my region of the Darling Downs. We have the New Acland thermal coalmine, which provides an energy source for local activities such as meatworks and so forth. It also provides an energy source for the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. There is also the Millmerran power station. Those traditional sources of energy, if you like, represent roughly 850 megawatts of supply there in the Darling Downs. We are underway with the development of the Oakey solar farm, about 80 megawatts. There are the Yarranlea solar farm, via Pittsworth outside Toowoomba, about a hundred megawatts; the Dalby biorefinery; the Oakey intermittent gas power station, itself representing about 332 megawatts; the AGL Coopers Gap wind farm under development north-west of Toowoomba, another 450 megawatts; and the proposed Cressbrook Dam renewable pumped hydro project, 400 megawatts.

In my own backyard we are developing as much in renewables as we already have in traditional supplies. Those opposite, Labor and Greens, simply don't want to recognise that this transition is underway, that the coalition government is leading the charge and is in fact setting the pace on an international scale. They don't want to understand the needs in regional Australia. They don't want to appreciate or acknowledge our government's efforts to meet our emissions reduction targets whilst maintaining a focus on industry and jobs, particularly in regional Australia.

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