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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6461

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (5:45 PM) —Let’s go to the all-important question of nuclear power, an issue of some interest to some coalition members, whilst other coalition members run from the debate every time it is raised in their electorates. But I understand that the member for Mayo will be going back to Adelaide on Friday morning and arguing that he wants a nuclear power plant in his seat and one elsewhere in South Australia.

More seriously, can I say that nuclear power is a fact of life. There is going to be a growth in demand for energy both in Australia and internationally. There are about 1.6 billion people in the world who do not have access to any electricity at all at the moment. We are also going to see a significant growth in energy in emerging economies such as China and India. Unlike those countries, we are an energy rich country. In a lot of ways we are an energy superpower, and there is great capacity for us to expand our energy exports and also to put in place commercial research and development with government investment and investment from state and territory governments and the private sector. These R&D outcomes are just as important from an export point of view.

On the issue of nuclear power, to meet the needs of those countries who are not energy rich like Australia, I will do everything I possibly can to expand uranium mining in Australia to guarantee that our uranium is mined with safe hands and used with safe hands. In Queensland there is a huge amount of exploration activity underway now. I must say I just came from a meeting with a company which is absolutely interested in further investment in exploration activities in the uranium industry in Queensland.

With respect to the issue of energy, there is going to be a growth in energy demand in Australia. There is, for example, a capacity in some coal fired power stations to add a solar outcome which increases output by about five per cent. In more recent times, the new investments have come through gas as a peaking opportunity. We are also going to see in the foreseeable future under the RET a growth in wind power.

What we need to resolve once and for all is a price on carbon. If we want genuine new investment in the energy sector in Australia, then we have to provide an investment horizon which clearly indicates to potential investors what the price on carbon is in Australia for the purposes of determining their investment decisions. So between now and the end of next week I hope that the coalition see the light, that they revisit their position on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, in association with the renewable energy legislation. I hope that on Friday of next week, when I walk out of here, I can go out in the context of the coalition having seen sense about the security of investment in Australia, that there is a price on carbon and that I can go and talk to potential investors about how we can develop new electricity opportunities in Australia. The challenge is yours.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. DS Vale)—The time allotted for consideration of this matter has expired.

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON —I invite the member for Moncrieff to ask more questions in question time.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Immigration and Citizenship Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $1,750,149,000