Wednesday, 27 June 2018
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 898 standing in my name today, relating to coal-fired power stations, before asking that it be taken as a formal motion. I understand the amendment has been circulated, and I would also like to add two additional words—'base load'—before the word 'power' at the end of the sentence.
Mr President, I think this is the third iteration of an amendment on this motion. On the copy that I have, I actually thought it said 'case load' not 'base load'. It's handwritten in pencil, and it was handed in after the commencement of the formal motions housekeeping.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate calls on the government to facilitate the building of new coal-fired power stations and the retrofitting of existing base load power stations.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Coal-fired power stations have been part of Australia's delivery of the power and energy that all Australians need. Liddell is in the hands of foreign ownership and is due to close down. Hazelwood has been closed down. Over a period of time now, we have seen extensive rises in the cost of electricity, and a lot of businesses are not able to afford to pay for this, neither are the general public, pensioners and small businesses. We need to keep up with the rest of the world.
Opposition senators interjecting—
We are seeing 1,600 coal-fired power stations due to be built or being built around the world in countries such as China, Indonesia, Poland, Japan and Germany—to name some. We need to be progressive—
Opposition senators interjecting—
if we intend to keep our industries and manufacturing here in Australia. We can supply the power needs that we have, otherwise we are going to shut down Australia to the rest of the world.
The government's policy, the National Energy Guarantee, facilitates investment in all technologies, including coal, and also the retrofitting of existing base load power stations by market participants. The guarantee values dispatchable power like coal, gas and hydro. It also brings together energy and climate policy for the first time, and will facilitate a wide range of innovative solutions, combining technologies like coal or like solar and pumped hydro, as planned for Kidston in Queensland.
Coal will continue to play a key role in the electricity system into the future. Based on modelling by the Energy Security Board, under the National Energy Guarantee coal will provide 60 per cent of the electricity in the national electricity market in 2030. The National Energy Guarantee will help bring down the cost of electricity and improve the reliability of our energy supplies into the future.
I thank the Senate. The Greens oppose this motion for multiple reasons, which would take more than one minute to go into, but there are also a couple of very simple reasons. This would clearly make electricity far more expensive for people across the country, particularly for the battlers that are already being hit by so many of the other decisions that are being supported by the mover of this motion. Because coal-fired power stations have provided reliable electricity in the past, it does not mean that building new ones is the best way for the future.
It is clear and is already demonstrated that investing in renewable energy in a variety of means is delivering cheaper reliable energy for people across Australia, including in Queensland, as well as delivering the many, many more jobs that would come from this. This would be a massive waste of taxpayers' money. It would make electricity more expensive for everybody and also massively increase our greenhouse emissions at a time when we are already not meeting our Paris targets.
The Australian Conservatives will be supporting this motion, but, because the word 'facilitate' means different things to different people, I'd like to clarify that our support is not built around the taxpayer rebuilding, or building or purchasing coal-fired power stations. It is for the government to get out of the way, to provide contractual and operational certainty and to get their bureaucracy out of the way to allow new entrants into the market that will make these determinations on a commercial basis. It has nothing to do with spending of billions of borrowed taxpayers' dollars in building new facilities. I want to put that on the record because I think it's critical that there's no misinterpretation about what the term 'facilitate' means from the Australian Conservatives' perspective.
The question is that motion No. 898, as amended, be agreed to. Last week I had numerous complaints from whips and tellers about not being able to do their jobs because of the noise in the chamber during divisions. I ask senators to keep their conversations at a lower volume.