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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3584

Mr Tuckey asked the Prime Minister, in writing, on 25 February 2009:

(1)   Further to his answer to question No. 359, (Hansard, 9 February 2009, page 19):

(a)   is the Government aware of new tidal generating technology, other than the barrage tidal system;

(b)   have any studies been conducted resulting in findings consistent with the World Energy Council’s estimate of installed generating capacity from the inlets known as Walcott and Secure Bay in the Kimberley being at 4.2 gigawatts with productivity of 8.3 terawatts per annum;

(c)   does his answer to point (b) rely on the construction of alternating current (AC) or bipolar high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines;

(d)   can he indicate the known line losses applicable to the approximate 1700 kilometres HVDC system now operating between Kolwezi and Inga in the Republic of Zaire;

(e)   would the length of a HVDC line installed to connect AC transmission generators from Walcott Inlet to the south west of Western Australia be approximately 1700 kilometres;

(f)   if HVDC transmission installation is cost effective in the Republic of Zaire, could it be so in Australia;

(g)   was the proposal for a 45 megawatt barrage installation in Derby in Western Australia designed to service two small isolated regional communities separated by approximately 150 kilometres;

(h)   how do the economics of 4.2 gigawatts installation using a HVDC transmission line like the one in the Republic of Zaire compare with a 45 megawatt barrage system in terms of unit costs over a 100 year life span;

(i)   what are the environmental concerns and what is the significant environmental difference of the West Kimberley topography to that of areas to its immediate south; and

(j)   is it a fact that based upon published World Bank costing estimates for HVDC transmission systems and Murdoch University RISE Institute reports on Fence Line, a 4.2 gigawatts generation station and HVDC transmission system connecting to the south west of Western Australia and onwards to Roxby Downs in South Australia could be constructed for the approximate cost of the pre Christmas 2008 stimulus package of approximately $10 billion.

(2)   Can he indicate whether the British Government has announced the first stage of constructing large tidal generators in the Severn Estuary.

(3)   Considering the joint need for:

(a)   job creating stimulus packages, especially for retrenched mining construction workers, and

(b)   the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, why does the Government encourage retail spending over investing in Australia’s future energy needs.

(4)   If the Government is ‘not pursuing a World Heritage nomination’ why is it necessary to conduct an Australian Heritage Council assessment.

Mr Rudd (Prime Minister) —I am advised that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:


(a)   The Government is aware of a number of renewable energy technologies, including tidal barrage and the concept of tidal fence technology.

(b)   No studies have been commissioned by the Commonwealth Government.

(c)   Not applicable.

(d)   No (noting that the Republic of Zaire became the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo in May 1997).

(e)   No assessment of potential transmission lines has be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government.

(f)   The Commonwealth Government has not investigated the issue.

(g)   The Commonwealth Government is not proposing such a scheme at present.

(h)   The Commonwealth Government has not undertaken such a study.

(i)   In February 2008, the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments announced a joint Strategic Assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 of the West Kimberley region. The outcomes of the Strategic Assessment will address in detail the environmental values of the region.

(j)   The Commonwealth Government is not aware of the specific details of past Derby tidal project proposals.

(2)   The Commonwealth Government is broadly aware of the proposal.

(3) (a)   and (b) The numerous stimulus measures announced by the Government will benefit businesses and help reduce the impact of the global recession on Australian jobs.  Specifically, the $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan (NBJP) will help support and sustain up to 90,000 jobs over the next two years and will add around ½ of one per cent to GDP growth in 2008-09 and around ¾ to 1 per cent to GDP growth in 2009-10. In addition, the Government recently revealed a new Jobs and Training Compact to help support jobs. The Compact consists of three parts:

  • A Compact with Young Australians
  • A Compact with Australians who have been retrenched
  • A Compact with Local Communities