Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. Will the minister please outline to the House how the Morrison government's trade and energy strategy under the JobMaker plan is supporting jobs by creating new markets for Australian energy exports?
I thank the member for Herbert for his question. He knows that we're focused on opportunities for exporters who can create jobs and drive investment as we come out of COVID-19, including in places like Townsville in his electorate. He also knows that central to this is the need for affordable, reliable energy using a balance of different fuel sources—old technologies and new technologies—to provide that affordable, reliable energy.
I had the chance not so long ago to spend time with the workers on the shop floor of the Glencore refinery in his electorate. They know how important exports are, the role they play in our economy and the economy up around Townsville and how important affordable, reliable energy is for them. The good news for those workers and for workers right across Australia is that we have now seen 10 consecutive months of wholesale price reductions, starting even before COVID-19 hit. Indeed, in February this year, before COVID-19 struck, we'd seen wholesale electricity prices across the National Electricity Market down to close to half of where they were just a year before. This means manufacturers, farmers and other users of energy are in a much stronger position to build their export businesses. Along with that, it's no surprise that Australia is now the biggest LNG exporter in the world. What an extraordinary achievement. The people of Queensland and other states, such as Western Australia, who are playing a role in that know how important those jobs and those industries are to them.
But on top of that mixing of the old with the new we see enormous opportunities in new technologies in fuel sources like hydrogen. As the Chief Scientist has told us, hydrogen offers us the opportunity to create an industry with 8,000 jobs and about $11 billion worth of revenues. We've already invested $500 million into our National Hydrogen Strategy, including $300 million into the new Advancing Hydrogen Fund. It's crucial that as part of that we form partnerships, as we are doing, with our customer countries like Japan and South Korea, who see enormous potential in working with Australia not just by buying our current exports like coal and gas but by buying new exports like hydrogen and adjacent exports like ammonia. Not just Asian but also European countries are interested in this. Only today we've seen Germany signalling their interest in importing hydrogen, announcing 2 billion euros to develop international partnerships. We will certainly be talking to them about that. We're focused on affordable, reliable energy to drive exports and jobs as we come out of COVID-19.