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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8162


Mr TUCKEY (8:46 PM) —I move:

That the House recognises the energy, water and agricultural potential of the far north of Australia and, in particular, the Kimberley region and urges the parliament to give priority to the development of northern Australia.

My colleague and seconder, the member for Kalgoorlie, is going to address matters relevant to the great agricultural and water supply potential that exists in the region for which, of course, he is the local member. I wish to take my opportunity to draw the attention of the parliament to the very substantial renewable energy resources that exist in this region.

The length of the Kimberley coastline when measured on the shoreline from King Sound—or even if measured from Broome, but I think it is from King Sound—around to the Northern Territory border is about 6,000 kilometres. Therefore, it is a very lengthy coastline at first glance on a map. That is because of the fjordic nature of that entire stretch of the coastline. It is simply one bay, one inlet and one group of islands wherever you bother to look. The area is also subject to extremely high tidal action. In the company of the member, a group of backbenchers travelled to that area in our recent up week and we happened to be at the Derby port jetty at the time that the tide was out. There, standing in splendid isolation, was the jetty—some 40 old-fashioned feet above the bed of the sea at that point. We were informed that within five or six hours the tides would have risen close to the decking of the jetty. The tides are typically measured at about 11 metres twice a day as the mean average tide. That is a huge quantity of water.

Whilst Australians continue to ignore that potential, the World Energy Council—in preparing a table of high-quality tidal assets for the generation of electricity to replace the emitting coal fired and other now annoying or problematic generating systems—identified that just two of those inlets, Walcott Inlet and Secure Bay, had a relative generating capacity of over four gigawatts of power and, in fact, over eight terawatt hours of electricity generation annually. That equates to 120 per cent of the existing installed generating capacity in Western Australia and 10 per cent of the total generating capacity of Australia.

Here we have this magnificent resource. On a previous occasion I drew the attention of the House to how modern-day high-voltage DC transmission can economically deliver that power to all parts of Australia. The transmission side might cost $5 billion. As a public good exercise, I would think that is exactly the response the Australian government should give to this grave difficulty. The Prime Minister is spending $100 million on another area which would be much more difficult.

Our grave problem is that the government is actually proposing, through the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, to give control of that region to Geneva through a World Heritage order. Why would you do that? If Australia cannot control its own energy assets, its own freshwater assets and its own mineral assets, why do we need World Heritage? Yes, there are some nice waterfalls and there are a few other things that the state government could probably protect. Why would this government allow the environment minister to do that? (Time expired)


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Is the motion seconded?


Mr Haase —I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.