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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5902

Mr KATTER (3:37 PM) —My question without notice is to the honourable Minister for Resources and Energy. The minister would be aware of his own role as the Lone Ranger riding to the rescue of the $15 billion North West Queensland Mineral Province about to be scalped by electricity demand growth outstripping supply in 2012, the current cost of inefficient small power generation rendering our mineral production non-competitive, no growth capacity in the north-west grid and CPR charges. In light of this, could the minister ensure—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr KATTER —It is a bit important, you know. It really is a little bit important.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Kennedy has the call. I am trying to hear him.

Mr KATTER —I was wondering whether I did, Mr Speaker. In light of this could the minister ensure that (a) he arrives in time, (b) he brings sufficient electricity with him and (c) his proposed clean energy corridor, for which his grid connection has provided the catalyst, will provide the silver bullet for Xstrata, BHP, Rio Tinto and Gutnick’s Legend Mining with some 15,000 permanent jobs flowing from the Pentland biofuels project and the proposed mineral expansions? Finally, if not, would he not agree that even Tonto might decide that he and the infrastructure minister, Albanese, are palefaces?

The SPEAKER —Just for the record, the last part of the question is out of order.

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) —I do not know where the Lone Ranger and Tonto are today, but I can assure the House they long gave up trying to corral the member for Kennedy. More seriously, this question is a very serious question. It goes to the potential development of the North West Mineral Province in Queensland. This province has long been held back by the lack of an adequate supply of energy at a reasonable cost. The member for Kennedy has raised the question of the possible development of the North West Mineral Province in the context of a key part of the government’s recent budget strategy going to the establishment of a real government commitment to clean energy in Australia. I welcome his support for that government initiative, because it goes to our requirement to invest in not only carbon capture and storage but also renewable energy in Australia. That is because we are not interested in trying to pick winners; we are about trying to create a framework that encourages investment in all sources of potential energy in Australia.

That takes me, firstly, to the question of carbon capture and storage and a commitment of $2.4 billion to cleaning up coal in Australia, reducing emissions. CCS is vital to our future, because 82 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations. I was pleased to see carbon capture and storage in a commercial operation, the Sleipner petroleum field, when I recently visited Norway. CCS is currently in place throughout the world and it is our responsibility, not only as a coal-dependent energy nation but also as a major coal exporter, to actually get this technology right. I would also say that, if we achieve later this year the Gorgon gas investment of $30 billion to $50 billion, something that the Prime Minister and I are working on at the moment, you will see the largest carbon capture and storage operation in the world here, on Barrow Island in Western Australia.

The member has also raised the need to focus on renewables. We are about investing real money—the biggest investment by an Australian government—in the renewables sector in Australia. That builds on our determination to put in place a measured carbon pollution reduction scheme with a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020. Our demonstration program of $1.6 billion in solar technologies is not just about solar PV; it is also about seriously investigating whether or not solar thermal could supply real, baseload, secure energy in Australia—important not only to Australia but also to the global community.

Not content with just focusing on carbon capture and storage and solar, we are also going to encourage the exploration and development of other demonstration activities, such as geothermal and wave power. This is about us ensuring as a nation that, when it comes to the issue of energy security, as we move to a low-emission economy, we not only guarantee our own future but also put in place technology options of great interest and need to the global community at large.

So I say to the member for Kennedy: I express my appreciation for your support of the government’s clean energy strategy. I am not the Lone Ranger; I have a huge posse behind me and absolute support of our clean energy demonstration program. Perhaps more importantly, he, like me, understands and appreciates that without a commitment to clean energy we will never have a capacity to develop the North West Mineral Province, which has the potential to be as important as north-west Western Australia. I thank him for his question.