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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15493

Mr HAASE (4:35 PM) —It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise this evening and, surprisingly, continue in a similar vein to my colleague the member for Bonython. The conference he referred to which took place in Broome last week, in my electorate of Kalgoorlie, was truly a historic step in what I believe will be a move by this government and future governments of Australia to adopt hydrogen as the basis of their economy rather than continue with an economy, as it stands today, based on fossil fuels.

The process of converting water to hydrogen and oxygen simply requires electricity. That electricity can be produced by a number of means. One of the ways of producing electricity is to burn a fossil fuel. The result of that is the further contamination of the atmosphere with what we refer to today as greenhouse gases. Another way of producing electricity is to use tidal energy—and in the Kimberley the tides run to 11.8 metres—and to harness those tides in such a way that electricity is produced. That electricity can then be used to produce hydrogen by converting water to both hydrogen and oxygen.

The release of oxygen into the atmosphere further enhances the atmosphere of this planet, but the hydrogen produced can be dealt with thereafter in many, many ways. It can be liquefied and shipped by land or sea in a compressed state. It can be put into a pipeline under compression and reticulated around Australia. Perhaps members would be interested to know that there already exists in this country a reticulation of gas pipelines that, with minimal additions, could transport hydrogen that is produced in the Kimberley, in the north-west of Western Australia, to south-eastern Australia where the majority of industry is based and the majority of the population live.

Hydrogen, if it is produced with nonpolluting renewable energy, becomes truly the fuel of mobility for the future of this planet. It is truly nonpolluting at the point of manufacture and creation, and it is also nonpolluting at its end use in motor vehicles. If motor vehicles utilise hydrogen as an energy source and convert that hydrogen through fuel cells into electricity to drive motors within the vehicle to give mobility, that process creates no deleterious by-products at all. It produces only water. Just as you put electricity into water to produce oxygen and hydrogen, when you combine hydrogen and oxygen from the atmosphere you produce electricity and water. It is truly a breakthrough.

It is not then a question of if we can adopt hydrogen as a fuel of mobility for the future and in fact base our economy on hydrogen; it is simply a question of when. Jules Verne referred to hydrogen as an energy source for mobility all those decades ago in his futuristic writings. It is not surprising that we will move to a hydrogen economy and that we will take up the opportunity to use hydrogen as a fuel of mobility, because it is nonpolluting and we need to exist on a planet that does not have a polluted atmosphere. I am so proud to be associated with a government that took the initiative to hold a conference on hydrogen so that we can now take the first step towards an economy based on that fuel of mobility of the future.