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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15507

Mr JOHN COBB (9:59 AM) —As the member for an electorate with enormous development potential, especially in the areas of mining and other high power usage industries, and as the secretary for the government committee on industry and resources, I have to draw the House's attention to the deplorable future the power supply has in the state of New South Wales. I remember when we had power shortages and skyrocketing electricity prices under a previous Labor government in New South Wales. They then panicked and built an excess supply of power generators at a huge cost to the taxpayers of that state. Unfortunately, I think we are in for a repeat of that power mismanagement.

The biggest market in Australia is New South Wales, with more than a third of customers and consumption. The question has to be asked whether the state government is asleep at the wheel in terms of power supply. The consumption of electricity in New South Wales has risen by 7½ per cent in the last four years. In this time generation capacity has actually gone backwards. At 12,147 megawatts in 2002, it was actually 30 megawatts lower than in 1998. What is more, the average age of New South Wales power plants is among the highest in the country—more than 21 years, as against 23 years in Victoria and 16 years in Queensland. Where are the plans to build more power generation plants in New South Wales? In Queensland there have been more than 3,400 megawatts of new capacity added since 1998, in South Australia 1,100 megawatts and in Victoria only 500 megawatts, but the New South Wales capacity has gone backwards while demand rises. Consumption in Queensland has risen 7,300 gigawatt hours since 1998 and there is an added 3,400 megawatts of capacity. At present its production is meeting 12 per cent of New South Wales demand via the QNI high-voltage interconnector.

Consumption in New South Wales has risen 4,400 gigawatts since 1998 and generating capacity has fallen. If Central Queensland gets the new industries it is pursuing, how much capacity will be available to flow south? If New South Wales gets any of the new industries it is pursuing, how will it meet this demand? Building a big coal-fired power station in New South Wales will take up to six years, including dealing with all the approval processes. There are many firms and jobs in my electorate, let alone residents, that rely on the availability of power and cannot have their livelihood threatened because New South Wales has not done its job on future power needs. Meeting the generation need from gas-fired power is technically and commercially feasible, but where is the gas to come from? ABN Amro says all of the south-eastern Australian petroleum gas reserves are committed. Does New South Wales face a rerun of earlier problems of power shortages and the price shocks it encountered in the late 1970s? The state government is not running this. We must have a long-term future. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—In accordance with standing order 275A, the time for members' statements has concluded.