House debates

Thursday, 24 October 2019



12:57 pm

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

The Queensland government is planning to close down Callide B power station in 2028, 10 years early—not on the Morrison or the Queensland LNP watch! Our government will not be closing down any coal-fired power stations until we have a suitable replacement. We can't take 700 megs out of the base-load power of the grid with no plan to replace it. That is ludicrous. It could affect not only Queensland; it could affect all Australia, as we do supply the southern states with extra power from coal and gas via the grid. With the Queensland government's target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, the government should just put aside their lattes and look at the real needs of people—the people whom they represent.

To keep the lights on and the wheels of industry turning, we must continue to invest in the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on coal-fired power stations. We will achieve this by upgrading existing stations. We have eight coal-fired power stations in Queensland. Developing plans and modelling to assess the viability of new HELE power plants is the way to go. I've seen the effect in South Australia of pulling down coal-fired power stations and not replacing them or replacing them with renewable energy. This simply doesn't work without base-load power. I'm certainly convinced that this is not the direction in which we should be heading.

That brings me to nuclear energy. Small modular reactors offer the prospect of safe, affordable and zero-emissions power that is capable of meeting the needs of Australian households and industries. Australia has one-third of the world's uranium. This is critical in a power-hungry world. Our world and our nation is seeking to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. The electricity produced by Australian uranium is equal to 96 per cent of Australia's total annual electricity generation, and all with zero emissions. Last year, 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 were not released into the atmosphere because of nuclear energy. Nuclear is safe, nuclear is reliable and nuclear is affordable. It is a clear choice for Australia. We should consider the role that nuclear energy could play in a future world.

If one thinks how much uranium one would need to supply one person's energy needs for a lifetime, the answer is: it is the size of one golf ball. The size of one golf ball equals a lifetime amount of energy for one person. It's hard to fathom, but it's true. One single pellet of uranium is a one-centimetre cylinder in size. This is equal to 560 litres of oil, 1,000 kilograms of coal or 480 cubic metres of gas. That's the power of nuclear energy. Nuclear produces more power with such a small footprint. Three small modular reactors would supply 108 million households.

I've recently copped a lot of flak in my electorate for putting up a proposal that nuclear power should be considered, and I'm pleased that there is a Senate inquiry going on into the future use of nuclear power. I consider that this is my obligation to my constituents and business operators. With the price of power affecting not just the hip pockets of families and small businesses but also the likes of Rio Tinto, who have three major plants in Gladstone, there is already talk about closing down aluminium plants in New Zealand and in Portland in Victoria. This will affect many jobs in my electorate and in electorates in the areas I've just mentioned. It'll affect jobs in Weipa, where the bauxite for the aluminium comes from, which is in your electorate, Member for Leichhardt.

This is an important issue for us, for Queensland and for Australia. We should consider the benefits of base-load power, whether it be from coal-fired HELE plants or whether we look at the possibility of nuclear energy.

Question agreed to.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:02


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