House debates

Monday, 29 May 2017



10:34 am

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House recognises:

(1) the long term global demand predictions for coal in providing reliable, secure and affordable baseload power;

(2) that power prices in Queensland have reached record highs, including up to $14,000 MW/H in January 2017;

(3) that the high cost of electricity supply in North Queensland has been a disincentive to business investment for many years, putting a strain on Australian businesses and households;

(4) that Australia has an abundance of high quality coal, better than in many countries around the world; and

(5) that Australia should utilise this natural advantage by maintaining its prominent role in providing secure, reliable and affordable energy, and that in order to do this, there should be a coal fired power station built in North Queensland.

In North Queensland, as in most regional areas, people are acutely aware of two things: there is no life without water and there is no industry without energy—not just any energy but energy that is affordable and reliable. Coal is a resource and the affordable energy that it supplies, predominantly through electricity, has revolutionised the way that human beings live their lives. It has underpinned the Industrial Revolution that lifted millions of people out of poverty and enabled today's very comfortable lifestyles. Coal powered us through the industrial age. It powered us through two world wars. Throughout human history, each wave of technology has introduced greater efficiencies, more prosperity and more leisure time—and more time to indulge in non-productive but culturally and ideologically driven pursuits, such as environmental activism.

One day a new form of energy creation will be developed—no doubt a more efficient and more reliable form of energy, with fewer or perhaps even zero emissions, that will make coal obsolete. We do not know what that technology will be, but we do know that it is not the current solar or wind options on which the world economy is currently wasting millions and millions and perhaps even billions of taxpayer dollars. We know in Australia at least that the Greens and the green movement will never allow the clean power of nuclear generation. Our next stable energy generating technology has not yet been invented, and it will not be invented if scientists cannot access affordable and reliable power. Until that new technology is invented, it is critical that we maintain industry, our economy and, in particular, regional economies, as well as our lifestyles with the technology that we know we can rely on.

In Central and North Queensland, affordability of energy supply is already a threat to industry and to jobs. The largest aluminium smelter in Australia, Rio Tinto's Boyne Island Aluminium Smelter in Gladstone in the electorate of the member for Flynn, who is going speak on this motion later, is slashing more than100 jobs and about 80,000 tonnes of annual production—worth about $200 million to our national economy—because it cannot source affordable power from state government providers. The inner city greenies will be patting themselves on the back for pulling off a trifecta in Gladstone—cutting down big business, reducing industry and killing productive jobs in a place that does not affect the Greens, of course. No doubt they are impressed with South Australia's hit to business and jobs with their renewable energy folly. Queensland Labor is now trying to follow suit. The state Labor government has set a 50 per cent renewable energy target that we know will only increase energy costs and decrease energy reliability. Affordable energy is essential to maintain, much less grow, any economy. That fact was recognised in the North and Northwest Queensland Sustainable Resource Feasibility Studies report commissioned by the previous Labor government at the behest of the member for Kennedy, who I note is going to speak on this motion as well. The report was on baseload power in North Queensland and the Dalrymple agricultural scheme. Key findings in that report were that a major coal-fired power station would put strong downward pressure on electricity prices, with a potential $836 million social cost benefit gain. That report found that such a station would be commercially viable if such a coal-fired power station were built at the mouth of the coalmine in the Galilee Basin. That report was commissioned by those opposite. I would like to hear the member for Herbert's view on this, because that report was done by Townsville Enterprise Pty Ltd and commissioned by the last Gillard Labor government.

In March 2014, the Australian Energy Market Operator reported that there would be a breach of the reliability standard in Queensland by 2020-21. There would not be enough generation capacity to meet demand. The state is effectively going to run out of power. Building extra capacity in the system is an imperative. If we are to learn anything from South Australia, that extra capacity cannot come at the expense of reliability and affordability. Coal is both reliable and affordable. New clean coal technology means ultra-supercritical generators can use a pulverized coal combustion system operating at a higher temperature and pressure to generate a reliable supply, with up to 50 per cent fewer emissions than conventional coal-fired power stations. Utilising that new technology to meet demand and replace older high emissions technology is an obvious choice. We are blessed with coal in North Queensland. The solution to the problem of unaffordable power is coal-fired power generation. We must have it if we want industries and jobs to grow, particularly in the North.

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

10:39 am

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I welcome this motion from the member for Dawson because it again demonstrates his and his party's economic ignorance and ignorance about the true facts of the energy industry both in this country and globally. Here are some facts: internationally, coal consumption peaked in 2013 and has actually declined every year since. Fact: wholesale electricity prices have doubled under this government. Look not just at Queensland, Mr Deputy Speaker, but across the entire NEM, where wholesale energy prices have doubled since this mob came to power in 2013. Fact: the National Electricity Market rules are hopelessly out of date.

This motion comes at an interesting time because the House energy committee had some important testimony before us last Friday. We had the government's own regulators—the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator—provide the following testimony. The government's own regulators said that higher prices are not leading to increased investment. Why? In their own words, because of the massive uncertainty that is in the marketplace due to this government's failure on climate change and energy prices policy. The government's own regulators are saying that the higher power prices are not leading to more investment because this mob have failed on energy policy.

What did the Australian Energy Market Commission call for on Friday? They called for an emissions intensity scheme. They said it is essential to unlocking investment and the cheapest way of solving the energy crisis in this country. They referred to the modelling they commissioned by the government's own favourite energy modeller, Danny Price, which found that an EIS not only would unlock $48 billion worth of investment but would lower electricity prices by $15 billion. Let me repeat that: an EIS, which this government has opposed, will lower energy prices by $15 billion, according to the government's own economic regulators. No wonder it is supported by a broad coalition, including by the New South Wales Young Nationals. The youth arm of the member for Dawson's own party is calling for an EIS, as is the Business Council of Australia, BHP, AGL, EnergyAustralia, the National Farmers' Federation, Origin Energy, Snowy Hydro, CSIRO, Energy Networks Australia, the Chief Scientist, the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. A broad coalition of energy experts is calling for an EIS. In fact, Danny Price, the Prime Minister's own favourite energy policy expert, who wrote his policy in 2009, has stated that the Liberal and National parties are the parties of higher power prices. They are the parties of higher power prices.

The truth is that our power station fleet is very old. The average age of power stations in Victoria is 41, and in New South Wales it is 35. The four Hunter and Central Coast power stations around my electorate provide fully one-third of Australia's coal-fired power production, and they are due to retire, according to their own companies, in 2022, 2028, 2034 and 2035. We need replacements. We need investment into this sector. Investors need certainty.

The replacement is very unlikely to be new coal-fired power. That is not because of any mad greenies or environmentalists; it is because the economics of the industry are changing. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, new coal-fired power stations will cost about $130 per megawatt hour. When you get to the pipedream of carbon capture and storage, which the member for Dawson is very interested in, you can triple that price. This is independent experts saying it will be $130 per megawatt hour for new coal. Large-scale solar photovoltaics are already at $100 per megawatt hour and new wind is at $60 per megawatt hour.

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Cut all the subsidies!

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Without a subsidy. That is the price without a subsidy. These sources can provide reliable energy through true integration of the National Electricity Market when coupled with storage technology, whether it is pumped hydro or battery storage.

I am proud to represent a coal-fired region. My region was built on coal and coal will have a strong role into the future. But we need to be realistic. We cannot lie, which is what those members opposite are doing. We cannot perpetuate untruths that somehow coal-fired power is competitive against unsubsidised renewable energy in this country. It is just wrong. The government's own regulators have said it is wrong. The government's own regulators have said an emissions intensity scheme will lower power prices and decarbonise the grid, and that is what we should be talking about in this debate.

10:44 am

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Coal continues to be the backbone of global electricity generation and still makes up 40 percent of global electricity. Because it is relatively affordable and widely available, coal remains the world's No. 1 fuel for generating electricity, producing steel and making cement. Australia is leading the way internationally in clean coal technology. Black coal from Queensland is the most energy-efficient in the world in terms of kinetic output per unit of coal burned.

Australia can and should be leading the way in developing HELE coal-fired power plants to produce more electricity with less coal at less cost. Our domestic energy supply and pricing can be supported by high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power generation technology. Around the world, over 1,200 plants are under construction achieving over 45 per cent efficiencies. Australia has none planned. How can we plan them when new investment in coal is constantly delayed?

We must ensure Australia's power supplies are affordable for the everyday household. We absolutely need to ensure businesses can remain competitive on a global scale. On a recent trip to the Pioneer Valley in my electorate of Capricornia, a sugarcane grower told me that the electricity required to pump water was costing $9 a tonne. They are considering switching to diesel. In Rockhampton, Dobinsons Spring and Suspension's power costs have tripled in 10 years. Solar installation has helped, but it is no use for early morning furnace operations. They too are considering diesel. If they cannot be competitive, they cannot afford to grow and hire more people. It is that simple. If these companies fail, jobs for working families go with them. I do not think the city greens comprehend the repercussions to both industry and the environment if businesses cannot afford to operate. Labor is literally fuelling the fire by continuing to side with the Greens. It is irresponsible for the economy, it does nothing for the environment and it is creating a business environment that is unsustainable. But at least they can sleep in their air-conditioned comfort with the distorted belief they are somehow helping.

High efficiency, low emissions power plants deliver secure, affordable energy while lowering CO2 emissions. It is why these technologies are a central element of many nations' plans to meet the Paris climate change agreement. Some 725 units are operating in East Asia with a further 1,142 installations under construction or planned. As the adoption of carbon capture and storage technologies increases, these emissions savings will increase to 90 per cent. HELE coal generation offers many advantages and is the only power source to meet all of the following elements for sound energy policy: it is a low cost power source to build and operate; availability stretches 24 hours a day, every day; we have access to a high quality domestic fuel source without supply concerns; it is synchronous power not susceptible to supply interruptions and outages; and, as an established grid participant, it does not require expensive network upgrades. These technologies should be part of Australia's efforts to meet its emissions reduction targets while maintaining affordable and secure energy supply.

We learnt through the forced closure of Hazelwood coal-fired power station that we need to ensure there is sufficient, stable, baseload power available to consumers. The Queensland Labor government is denying Capricornia vital jobs and business competitiveness by labelling a clean coal-fired power station as 'not rational'. Imagine this: we build one of the world's most efficient super-critical coal-fired power stations in Northern Australia. We use some of the world's cleanest coal to generate Queensland's electricity needs. We employ hundreds of people to build them. We employ more Central Queenslanders to run them. We make some money. We use that money to build infrastructure and create more jobs. With a healthy economy, we are able to invest in even more efficient and renewable energy supplies. Australia used to be the country of innovation, forward thinking and a go-get-'em attitude. (Time expired)

10:49 am

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the motion put by the member for Dawson. I want to point out a few things up front. There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding. Calling coal 'clean' does not make it so. There is still the physics associated with burning coal. At best, you are only going to get to about 80 per cent efficiency, even if you put the words 'ultra-supercritical' in front of it. The members opposite need to remember that.

The member for Dawson's motion—what a cheek! This is a guy who came into parliament promising a $500 power bill cut and then puts a motion slamming power price rises in Queensland. We know that his government failed to put in place an emissions intensity scheme, which industry says would put downward pressure on power prices. In fact, just this morning the energy minister again confirmed that the Turnbull government will not be imposing an emissions intensity scheme on the power sector—an emissions intensity scheme that would send a positive signal to investors encouraging them to renew the ageing electricity infrastructure, especially in North Queensland. This is supported by the experts. They say it will cut electricity costs by up to $15 billion and will support new investment. The coalition government is about to start its fifth year in government. Under them, wholesale prices have doubled since they took office—not just in Queensland, but across the net. They can try to duck and weave, but they are ultimately responsible for these price hikes that are affecting individual customers and businesses.

The member for Dawson's motion says:

…there should be a coal fired power station built in North Queensland.

I point out to the member for Dawson there is no law preventing a coal-fired power station being built in North Queensland. You can go ahead and build it right now, if the market decides so. If the numbers stack up, investors will line up to build it. But clearly the numbers do not stack up. We had his LNP senator, Senator Canavan—I remember in his first speech Senator Canavan pointed out that he used to be a communist. We see him, the minister for resources, comrade Canavan, demanding that Australians boycott Westpac Bank because they made a commercial decision not to invest in a coalmine. This is unbelievable! The member for Dawson and comrade Canavan suggesting that the federal government should step in and now own coalmines and build coal-fired power stations. That is what he is suggesting. Maybe he is a sort of Manchurian candidate trying to change the system from within. It is unbelievable. It is a shame you were not so sympathetic when it came to the automotive industry, when they were struggling. You were not so keen to nationalise the means of production for the Holden workers in Elizabeth or down in Victoria. It is a weird thing.

The facts are that the Turnbull government has failed to deliver affordable, reliable clean energy. You have failed to have a vision to better integrate renewables into the grid. As we have heard from previous speakers, coal consumption worldwide is decreasing. We know that. But Australian households, communities and businesses are paying more because this government has not taken advantage of the latest electricity technology, especially in battery storage.

The member for Dawson should understand that. He knows that in his electorate there is great work being done in renewable energy. The Palaszczuk government has supported the establishment of a large-scale renewable industry, after Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls shut it down. In particular, since January 2016 there has been massive investment in North Queensland. We see the commitment of over 1,000 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy projects, most in regional Queensland. Even in Dawson we see 42 megawatts at Collinsville and 58 megawatts—

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is not in Dawson!

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is close to Dawson. The Whitsunday Solar Farm has 58 megawatts and Collinsville Solar Farm 42 megawatts. That will obviously benefit North Queensland. There will be construction jobs, and it will double Queensland's large-scale renewable energy capacity. We know that Queensland has a renewable energy target of 50 per cent. That will drive investment in Queensland, create more jobs and it will have a cost-neutral impact on electricity prices. As people have said, battery storage technology is taking off. We have seen emissions from electricity generation decrease by 25 to 31 per cent because of this commitment by the Queensland government. We are the Sunshine State. We are halfway there, and we have more to go in terms of generating 3,000 megawatts of solar capacity just from the rooftops in Queensland. So, we need to be fair dinkum and understand that calling it clean coal does not make it so.

10:54 am

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am very pleased to join this motion put forward by the member for Dawson followed by the member for Capricornia, two members in this place who actually are concerned about the workers and the constituents in their electorate and are prepared to come in here and stand up for them. Standing up for their own constituents—that is a job that we all have an obligation to do, and I will be very interested to listen to the member for Herbert's contribution to this debate, to see whether she stands up for the constituents of her electorate, like the member for Dawson and the member for Capricornia have.

The member for Dawson says in his motion that he recognises the long-term global demand predictions for coal. I have listened to members of the Labor Party during this debate and the shadow minister for climate change, who said:

The demand for thermal coal exports around the world is in rapid decline.

We have heard from member after member on that side that coal is in decline. Let us look at what the evidence is, rather than the bald-faced assertions of Labor Party members. What do the Minerals Council have to say about this story that coal is in decline? The Minerals Council said:

The value of Australia’s thermal coal exports is expected to grow by 28 per cent in 2016-17 and total $19 billion, according to official forecasts.

That is the Minerals Council. What about some other interesting groups? What about the Resources and energy quarterly? The most recent one, put out by the government department, says this about coal exports coal trade:

Global thermal coal and lignite demand is projected to increase …

Members of the Labor Party come in here during this debate and claim that coal is in decline, but it continued to increase. The report continues:

By 2022, global trade is projected to rise … from 2016 levels to 1.06 billion tonnes.

How about someone else? What do the International Energy Agency have to say about this myth that Labor are putting forward that coal is in decline? The International Energy Agency's figures, even under the new policy scenario, show that in every single year up to 2040 coal continues to increase. They are the facts.

What about the coal power stations being constructed around the world? What could be driving this increase? Let us look at a report, and this is not a report from the Minerals Council; this is a report from the Sierra Club and Greenpeace—hardly the friends of coal, and this is a report they put out to try to show that coal is somehow in decline. Their report shows—again, this is a Greenpeace report—that there are 824,531 megawatts of coal-fired power stations under active development. Let us put that in some context. We know that the Hazelwood power station that closed down was 1,600 megawatts. So, that is the equivalent of 540 Hazelwood power stations currently under active developed around the world. All these power stations are going to need coal to operate. The future for coal—no matter what anyone says, no matter what new myths anyone wants to put forward—if you look at the numbers and if you look at the statistics, there is no doubt that coal will continue to be used in record quantities for the decades to come.

We had the member for Shortland in here talking about uncertainty in investment. We heard the word 'uncertainty' at the hearings on Friday of the House energy committee. They said there is no uncertainty in wind or solar, because they can get lavish subsidies. Where the uncertainty comes from is for those who want to invest in baseload coal-fired power generations. And that is what this nation needs. That is the reason energy cost in this nation are going up—because we have had baseload coal-fired power stations closing and being replaced with intermittent and useless wind turbines. The other week, every single wind turbine in this country was producing absolutely zero energy. Wind turbines from South Australia to Tasmania to Queensland—zero, not enough to run a single light bulb. We need new coal-fired baseload power stations in this nation. (Time expired)

11:00 am

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

When I read this motion moved by the member for Dawson, George Christensen, I was really perplexed as to why he would move such a motion—because he is pointing out a list of energy issues that have occurred under his government and he is drawing attention to the fact that the Turnbull government has not delivered, and will not deliver, anything to address North Queensland's energy crisis. This motion is placing a huge red target on the member for Dawson about how electricity costs have reached record highs under the Abbott and Turnbull government's and how his government is not going to do anything about it in the north.

In fact, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, one of the world's most respected energy market analysis firms, has trashed the Turnbull government's coal plan. In their statement 'New coal, the most expensive form of new supply', BNEF estimated the cost of electricity from new power plants using different technologies and concluded that the Turnbull government's favoured 'ultra super-critical' coal power is more expensive than solar, gas and wind alternatives. The report states: 'If new coal were to be built in Australia, electricity prices would be substantially higher than with a combination of wind, solar and gas.'

Therefore, it beggars belief that the member for Dawson would put this motion up. The thinking people in North Queensland would prefer to burn this motion and use the energy to assist with our rising energy costs. This motion does nothing to lower the cost of energy in North Queensland. As we have just heard, it will in fact increase exorbitant prices. Does the member for Dawson honestly think that North Queenslanders can take some solace from this motion? When this government is doing nothing, the best the member can do is stand in this place and offer a more expensive alternative. The simple fact is that there is nothing—zero, zilch—in the Turnbull government's budget to address North Queensland's energy crisis. Surely if the member for Dawson cared one iota about the increased electricity costs in North Queensland he would have put up a motion and made sure that we had something delivered in the budget.

North Queensland does not want hollow words—we certainly do not want a pointless, more expensive motion here in Canberra—we want real action. As it appears that the Turnbull government has not a clue what to do to address North Queensland's energy crisis, allow me to shed some light on the subject: it is one of the largest dams in Australia, it is five times the size of Sydney Harbour and its catchment area is bigger than England. This massive resource sits right in the electorate of Dawson and it can address both the north's water security and its energy crisis—a 'two birds with one stone' solution. I am of course talking about the Burdekin Falls Dam.

Mr Katter interjecting

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Kennedy will be silent if he wants to have his turn.

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We have this resource because of the great foresight and commitment to North Queensland from the Hawke Labor government in the 1980s.

Mr Katter interjecting

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

No, you're not.

Mr Katter interjecting

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The solution is built. The land is purchased and the plans are waiting and ready to be actioned.

Mr Katter interjecting

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Member for Kennedy, this is your last warning!

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Now all North Queensland needs is for the member for Dawson and the Turnbull government to get on with building a hydro power station. This project will create hundreds of real jobs and immediately alleviate the cost of rising electricity prices.

I am beyond disgusted that there was nothing in the federal budget to deliver water and energy construction for North Queensland. The Turnbull government is completely out of touch with North Queensland. Whilst the north's electricity costs are higher than those in South Australia, the Turnbull government is delivering a hydro power station for South Australia. This government continues to ignore the north. Once again, the Turnbull government is completely focused on the south—and nothing for the north. Surely if it is good enough for the south it is good enough for the north.

The Burdekin Falls Dam will address the north's skyrocketing energy prices and water security issues. The answer really is quite simple: a gravity fed pipeline and hydro electricity. I challenge this government and the member for Dawson to go and meet the families, small business owners and pensioners who cannot afford to pay their electricity bills. Even large companies such as Sun Metals have been forced to address their power costs rather than walking away from the north. This government needs to understand that, if it continues to ignore the north and offers a more expensive power solution, it will be at its own peril. I warn you now: I will continue to rise in this House and hound this government until you match Labor's commitment of $200 million for a hydro power station on the Burdekin Falls Dam.

11:04 am

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Listening to the three Labor speakers to this motion, the members for Shortland, Moreton and Herbert—seriously, it is like hearing three green pixies dancing at the bottom of the garden, praising the god of a 50 per cent renewable target, on behalf of the Queensland Labor government. That target is completely unrealistic. Renewables currently stand at around five per cent. They want them to reach 50 per cent. This is economic lunacy, it is morally reprehensible and in fact it is also environmentally irresponsible.

I cannot believe that the member for Herbert, who is dealing with an unemployment rate of 11.3 per cent and a youth unemployment rate which is almost twice that, can decide that she is not going to support initiatives to create jobs. What representative of this House would actually deny his or her own constituents an opportunity to create jobs? It is economic lunacy on the part of the Labor Party. Here we have an opportunity—through the creation not just of a new coal-fired power station but also, indeed, of the Adani mine—for the Galilee Basin and the broader area to create over 15,000 jobs, and what does the member for Herbert say? 'We don't want any jobs. Jobs aren't important to us.'

We also heard the member for Shortland saying that there is no longer a viable business case for coal—that renewables are taking over—'So let's just forget about coal. Australia, close the doors; it is all over. Let's go renewables.'

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Hear, hear!

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We have a 'Hear, hear!' from the Green across the carpet here; if indeed he thinks that is worthy of a 'Hear, hear!' it again shows the absolute economic illiteracy of the Greens and Labor. Even if they are right, who in their right mind says to themselves: 'You know what? We've got heaps of this product. In 30 years time that product may not be worth much. We're not going to sell any more'? In actual fact, now is the time to start to leverage your core competency. Australia has deep expertise, core competency, in these fuels, in coal, and there is high demand internationally. For the Greens and Labor to suggest for a moment that Australia should not be exporting and should not be leveraging its core capability—

Mr Bandt interjecting

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Melbourne: enough!

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

is nothing but a pathway to economically crippling this state and this country.

As a Queenslander, let me be very clear: I will not tolerate hearing—it does not matter whether from the Greens, Labor, GetUp! or a political activist—proposals which undermine our economic competence as a country. I will not support ideas that strip jobs from Queenslanders and that fundamentally undermine our sovereignty as a country.

We are creating a sovereign risk. What sort of message do we give to the rest of the world as importers of capital when we say no to major investment projects? But the Greens and Labor are happy with that because they do not care about jobs. They do not care about economic certainty. They do not care about our businesses being competent.

What they will say is: 'Oh, but we've got to look after the environment.' But if indeed they cared about the environment, they would be supporting the idea of a new coal-fired power station, one that is highly efficient and has low emissions. These are the sorts of ideas they should be looking at.

For the Labor Party to be rejecting the idea of a new coal-fired power station and the Adani project actually is irresponsible from an environmental point of view. Forget the garbage about the Reef—I mean, this is a mine that would be 300 kilometres inland, with over 300 conditions already placed on it. The only option, particularly for those overseas, who will be using coal, is to use dirtier coal. Do you think dirtier coal is better for the environment than cleaner coal from Australia? No. Do you believe that a new-technology coal-fired power station that delivers lower emissions is a good thing for the environment? Absolutely it is.

The Labor Party have joined the Greens, GetUp! and the political activists. They are undermining the state of Queensland and undermining our country. (Time expired)

11:09 am

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I must address the remarks from the member from Townsville, the member for Herbert. If I have ever seen a solo expedition of self-annihilation it would be her contribution to this motion. Here is a town on bended knees, with the highest unemployment rates of any city in Australia; with crime rates where there are 80 cars being stolen every week—it was reported that it was every week but I think it is every month—in a city of 170,000 people; and with suicide rates that are appalling. And she was saying, 'We will have no coalmining.' That is what she was saying.

I will say one thing for the CFMEU. They have always been a little bit communistic. They hate the Labor Party, because they know the Labor Party has never really been on their side. The CFMEU want decent wages and conditions, which will make them really well-off people. That is what they aspire to: a job and a decent income. The member for Shortland is in a coalmining area that gave the Labor Party all of these seats. I think you had better start having a look at your coalmining seats, because you are losing all of them—all of them are being lost.

This country has only one source of income now, the two quarries—the coalmining quarry and the iron ore quarry. The last time I looked there was $130 billion out of $320 billion coming from two sources: an iron ore quarry and a coal quarry—and you want to close the coal quarry down and bankrupt your country. That is what you want to do. Let's have a look at the figures. I speak with authority, because I happen to have been the mines and energy minister when Queensland had the cheapest electricity in the world. We had the cheapest in the world.

Honourable Member:

An honourable member interjecting

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Mate, if it was a corrupt government, let's have more of it, because we delivered to the people of Queensland the cheapest electricity in the world. We had a reserve resource policy and took one per cent of the coal to deliver to the people of Queensland the cheapest electricity in the world.

There is one view that I share with the honourable member from the Greens, and that is the electricity prices are not the fault of the Greens and the environmental chargers. I have a graph in front of me. It is the most extraordinary graph that you will probably ever see in Australian history. In 1990 you start off with the cheapest electricity prices in the world—and I have to say that the ALP government continued on with those policies—starting off with $600 and going to $700 15 years later. What happens at that point? In 2000 we went to national competition policy, and the graph then starts to ascend. In 2007, our socialist friends completely deregulated the market in Queensland, and from then on it shoots through the roof. Our LNP friends said, 'Thank you; our rich donors can now make even more,' and they increased it even more. So it went from $600 to $700 in 15 years and over the next 12 years it went from $700 to $2,300.

I will say a few words on solar. I won one of Australia's major science projects when we put in the first standalone system in the world, and I had to justify to a fairly conservative cabinet the idea of putting in a totally solar system in the Torres Straits. Our socialist friends, for all of their ranting and raving, put diesel generators throughout the Torres Straits—so much for their fair dinkumness!

I happen to love being in my house because we have 30 varieties of birds that come up to the back of our house, and I can sit there and watch all of these varieties of birds. They are beautiful. I am fighting against wind, because there will be a 20 kilometre barrier 100 metres high taking out about 50,000 birds a year. So I am not real keen on that.

An honourable member interjecting

There is a lady over there laughing. I will find out her name, so I can tell the House her name.

We have a proposal in North Queensland for the Hell's Gate Dam, where we will have no CO2 emissions at all. They will go into ponds and be absorbed by— (Time expired)

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)

11:20 am

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Dawson, who is moving this motion on coal, must hate his constituents, and the Queensland LNP members who have spoken in this place must hate their constituents. There are 67,000 jobs that are dependent on a healthy reef, and not once did I hear any of the Queensland LNP members speak about any of those people whose livelihoods are dependent on a healthy Great Barrier Reef. We have heard time and time again, as recently as last week, from the Great Barrier Reef authority itself, that the biggest threat to a healthy reef is climate change, is global warming and is the burning of fossil fuel. People will not fly from all the way around the world to Queensland to see a dead lump of white coral sitting in the water. People will not fly from the rest of Australia and support the tourism industries.

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

There's nothing wrong with the reef! I live on the reef!

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I hear the member say that there is nothing wrong with the reef. Well, I would urge him to go and have a look at parts of the reef that are bleached beyond recognition, with scientists almost in tears saying that we have had two bleaching episodes in consecutive years. It is not good enough to just say that your own bit of the reef is okay; have a look at the whole reef. I urge members to have a look at it, because if that is what is driving this government, that tells you all you need to know.

The members must hate their constituents, because they want to push up their power prices. Wholesale power prices have doubled under the Liberal-Nationals government since they came to power. Since they abolished the carbon price, wholesale power prices have doubled. They say it is the fault of states, because they have renewable energy targets. And do you know where the worst power price rises have been? In new South Wales, where they have had Liberal governments in power—where they have had a state Liberal government and a federal Liberal government. That is where wholesale power prices have gone up the most. Why? Because this government has been more interested in waging war on renewables than on having a proper energy policy, and, as a result, power prices are going up.

We hear all this talk about the need to build these ultra-efficient so-called clean coal power stations. 'Clean coal' is a bit like dry water—it does not exist. But they come in here and tell us they will build those. At a minimum, it is $134 a megawatt hour to build one of those. Meanwhile, the cost of building a new wind power station is $75. A new solar power station, again, is coming down to around the same price, according to AGL. So, there is the option of building new power stations in Australia, which we are going to need to do, and they are coming in here and saying, 'Let's build the most expensive one'—at least $134 a megawatt hour. Add in this fantasy of carbon capture and storage and the price is going to go north of that.

So, the Liberals and Nationals must hate their constituents, if they are advocating this, because not only is it a death sentence for the reef but it is a recipe for higher power prices, it is a recipe for worse droughts and it is a recipe for cyclones that are more intense when they hit. There are only two ways we are going to see new coal-fired power stations built in this country. One is if we do what the minister, Senator Canavan, says, and that is subsidise them. Recently in the Financial Review he made an extraordinary admission, and that is that coal is a loss maker. He said that the only way we have got coalmines and coal-fired power stations off the ground is with heavy government subsidies, and he is calling for more of them. What an admission, from the minister for resources, that coal loses you money: not only is it bad for the planet; not only do coal-fired power stations, if we were to build new ones, push up power process, but they lose you money. And he is saying, instead of that, 'Let's tip in $1 billion to build the Adani coalmine.' Well, what absolute economic lunacy, as well as environmental vandalism.

But there is a second way that a new coal-fired power station might be built in this country, and that is associated with the Adani mine. We know they want to attach a coal-fired power station to the Adani mine. Well, it is no surprise at all that the LNP wants to come in here and spruik it. But what is even more concerning is that the Queensland Labor government is saying, 'Let's back the Adani coalmine and potentially a new coal-fired power station that comes with it.' There is one thing that could be done right now to kill off the Adani mine once and for all. It is what Premier Daniel Andrews did in Victoria when he came out and said if he won the next election he would rip up the East West Link contracts after the Greens pushed for that for a long time. So now should the Leader of the Opposition come out and say very, very clearly that there will be no coalmine. It is time to stop Labor's Adani mine. We need to put an end to it. There is a very simple way that that could be done—that is, the Leader of the Opposition coming out and saying he will not back it if he is in power. (Time expired)

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.