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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8015

Ms CAMPBELL (5:52 PM) —I rise today to add my voice to those in this House who actually believe in climate change and who acknowledge that we must act and act now. The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and cognate bill form part of a raft of measures to which the Rudd government is committed in order to respond to climate change. The Minister for Climate Change and Water, the Hon. Penny Wong, made the point as she addressed the National Press Club recently that as a government we are asking much of this generation. We are being asked to repair the damage of generations past, doing so largely for generations to come. This is not an easy task, and in some sectors it is not popular. With that said, it is necessary.

I made an election commitment to the people of Bass and to the communities of Northern Tasmania. That commitment was that, as a government, Labor was staunch in its approach to renewable energy and that it would set a renewable energy target of 20 per cent of our electricity supply to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. It is a key measure within the government’s comprehensive approach to tackling climate change. This legislation will amend the act to implement the government’s commitment to expand its mandatory renewable energy target scheme, which includes a statutory target of 9,500 gigawatt hours in 2010, to a national renewable energy target scheme, which includes a target of 45,000 gigawatt hours in 2020. The expanded scheme will deliver the government’s commitment that the equivalent of at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020.

This legislation and the intent underpinning it will have dramatic effects in my electorate of Bass and across Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania is the country’s largest generator of renewable energy. With almost 30 hydro power stations across the state, worth close to $5 billion, it is clearly a major player in the renewable energy sector. Indeed, Roaring 40s, a Hydro Tasmania joint company, is well advanced towards the Musselroe Wind Farm. This farm is located in the north-east of Tasmania, around 100 kilometres from Launceston. It is anticipated that the project will comprise around 60 wind turbines, with a potential to generate almost 140 megawatts. Roaring 40s also says that its project will include the construction of a transmission line to connect the wind farm site to the Tasmanian electricity grid at Derby. This project will have both long-term and short-term benefits to the community and also to the environment. The employment created through the construction phase will have significant and positive effects in Northern Tasmania. Once operational, there will be ongoing employment opportunities. That is to say nothing of the obvious environmental benefit. According to Roaring 40s’ own figures, the Musselroe Wind Farm will meet the electricity needs of up to 55,000 Australian homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 300,000 tonnes a year.

Australians understand that climate change is the biggest threat to our prosperity and our way of life. Australia is one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change. In my home state of Tasmania, the impact threatens to be profound. Tasmania is expected to become warmer, with more hot days and fewer cold nights. Growth in peak summer energy demand is anticipated due to air-conditioning use, which may increase the risk of blackouts. By 2030, the average annual number of days over 35 degrees in Hobart could almost double, while in Launceston the average annual number of cold days below zero degrees could fall from 35 to 16. Warmer temperatures and population growth are likely to cause a rise in heat-related illness and death for those over 65, increasing in the state’s capital from the current five annual deaths to eight by 2020 and to between 10 and 14 by 2050. Warmer conditions may also help spread vector-borne, waterborne and food-borne disease further south. These health issues could increase pressure on medical and hospital services. Urban water security may be threatened by increases in demand and climate-driven reductions in water supply. An increase in annual rainfall, combined with higher evaporation, may lead to uncertain effects on run-off into rivers by 2030. By 2020, a 10 to 40 per cent reduction in snow cover is likely, with potentially significant consequences for alpine tourism and ecosystems. By 2020, the average number of days with very high or extreme fire danger in Launceston could increase. Increases in extreme storm events are expected to cause more flash flooding, affecting industry and infrastructure—including water, sewerage and stormwater, transport and communications—and may challenge emergency services. In low-lying coastal areas, infrastructure is vulnerable to sea level rise and inundation.

The effects of doing nothing are frightening, yet there are some among those opposite who in their hearts continue to deny the existence of climate change and who argue against the reality of global warming. These are attitudes I find, frankly, quite alarming, and I will say it again: doing nothing is not an option. In fact, those opposite cannot even get their facts right as they attempt to attack the government over this necessary response to climate change. It was with some amusement that I read on the website of Nationals Senator Ron Boswell that both the member for Hunter and the member for Corio will be joining me, the member for Bass, in facing what Senator Boswell called a ‘day of reckoning’ over Bell Bay jobs. For Senator Boswell’s future reference, Bell Bay is indeed in Bass, and I have no qualms about supporting legislation which is preparing Australia for the low-pollution future by tackling the challenge of climate change. If only those opposite were prepared to do likewise! I commend these bills to the House, optimistic about a future where action is taken in response to climate change.