Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1407


Dr McVEIGH (Groom) (11:18): I rise to speak about an issue critical for our nation's future—getting our energy mix right. I have the great honour of representing Groom in this parliament and I reckon our region is a poster child for the government's sensible approach to national energy policy. In recent times the Prime Minister has set out our government's direction for a national energy policy. During his recent visit to Toowoomba he and I discussed the local examples of sustainable, reliable and cost-effective energy technologies working in tandem. In our electorate we are well on the way to becoming a prime example of the all-of-the-above approach or the technology agnostic approach that the Turnbull government is committed to as the right approach for our nation's energy supply mix.

North-west of our city of Toowoomba we have the Acland coalmine, an open-cut coalmine that has been a major employer, a good corporate citizen and a major economic player for quite some years. It provides more than 300 direct jobs and more than 2,000 indirect jobs in our community. Interestingly, it has been at the forefront of a number of environmental initiatives, including rehabilitation of grazing land and a recent trial of dual-fuel mining trucks.

Then just up the road from the coalmine we have what is widely recognised as a transition technology with the Oakey Power Station. The 332-megawatt dual liquid/gas-fired open-cycle Oakey Power Station is adjacent to the Roma to Brisbane gas pipeline and in Queensland's growing coal seam gas corridor. ERM Power led the development of this technology, with commissioning occurring safely and on time in December 1999. This plant typically runs during times of peak electricity demand when Queensland's power needs are greatest.

The region of Groom has always been a place that continues to innovate and better itself, and the 80-megawatt Oakey solar farm is being planned. Oakey solar farm is a solar photovoltaic project that will consist of two stages, and after being awarded funding by ARENA under this government the project's first stage, of 25 megawatts, is expected to start construction next month, with stage 2, of 55 megawatts, starting in July. The project has been planned and developed by Canadian Solar, one of the world's largest solar companies, which assessed solar resource, terrain, vegetation, land usage, flood impact, parcel size, zoning, proximity to medium- and high-voltage networks, proximity to load demand, accessibility to transport and impact on adjoining landowners as part of its screening process. Just over the border in the seat of Maranoa, AGL Energy has proposed a $500 million wind farm at Coopers Gap which has a proposed capacity of 350 megawatts—and anyone who lives on the Darling Downs can assured you that a prevailing breeze is something we are never often short of.

These projects working in tandem is a perfect example of the federal government's national energy proposal going forward—renewables, fossil fuels, existing technology, new technology, all working together to ensure a stable, secure and affordable energy supply. It is security and cost that matters most, not how you deliver it. Our national energy policy should be an 'all of the above technologies' approach, working together to meet our emission reduction commitments while providing stable supply for businesses and residents alike, particularly hardworking families right throughout Australia. If we do not have such an approach it will be a tremendous disadvantage for the electorate of Groom, for the very reasons I have just mentioned, certainly for the Queensland energy supply situation and most definitely for the entire country, as we have seen given the failures in other parts of our country, most particularly in South Australia. It is time for a bipartisan approach to ensure our energy grid becomes a truly national one, providing reliable and cost-effective energy supplies for businesses and families alike.