Tuesday, 20 June 2017
When the government fell in Queensland in 1990, Queensland had the cheapest electricity charges in the world. We all get up here and quote facts and figures, and we can make them work in our favour, but proof positive was the fact that we got the aluminium industry. They were going to Canada, but we had cheaper power than Canada—in spite of their hydro-electricity—and so they came to Queensland.
We had a reserved resource policy. The ALP government that replaced us abolished the reserved resource policy completely, then deregulated the electricity industry. Two and a half thousand members of the ETU lost their jobs, and the ALP lost government, in the worst crash in the political history of the state. In a piece of monumental stupidity, the Liberals then promised, 'If you vote for us, we'll sell what's left of the people's assets.' They had the wonderful reward of selling the electricity industry and then watching prices soar through the roof.
It is said in this place again and again that the greenies are responsible for the increase in electricity charges. That is simply not correct. If you look at the NEMMCO figures, it is a 20 per cent increase as a result of environmental impositions. The graphs are there for Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. You can pick them up in the library, but I do not need them to tell me that the increase every year was one per cent. That is all—one per cent. That was until we hit the imposition of national competition policy upon the people of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia—I have not got the figures for New South Wales—and then it ascends through the roof. It goes up nearly 300 per cent under the free market system. There would not be a Labor leader in this nation's history before Ben Chifley who would not turn in their graves to see the Labor Party selling off the assets that they, as Labor governments in Queensland, built.
The alternative is wind. We have great privilege. God is good. We look out the back windows of my house, which is all glass, and we can see on some days nearly 30 varieties of birds. It is a great joy to see the birds—and the kangaroos down in the paddock hopping around. There are something like two million birds a year chopped up in these windmills that they are building. If you like seeing birds chopped up, I suppose it is a real good idea to have wind power! Having said that, the proposal that I talked about today—the 'triangle of power'—is the third-highest tableland in Australia. There is Kosciuszko, then there is Mount Bartle Frere and then there is the area north of Hughenden, where the big Kennedy project is going in, for 2,000 megawatts of electricity. There are only 40,000 megawatts in the whole grid system of Australia.
As for solar, people do not understand that silicon is the second-hardest metal on earth—nothing scratches silicon except diamond—so you have to crunch it up and pulverise it down into a powder to process it into superpure silicon. There are not many people here—I do not think there is anyone here, actually—who have ever worked in the mining industry. I have worked as a labourer in a lead smelter and worked my own mines as a mine owner. You break the silicon up in a ball mill, and this costs an awful lot of money. A spiral separator costs nothing. The third process, in all probability, is electromagnets. As that name would indicate, it needs one hell of a lot of power. You need electricity to work an electromagnet to pick up the iron in the material. Then you send a huge electric current across two carbon rods, you pull the carbon rods apart and, a la hourglass, you melt the silicon. I think the most ignorant person here would see how much energy is needed to produce those photovoltaic— (Time expired)