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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7965


Ms KEAY (Braddon) (16:08): We have a clear choice when it comes to energy policy. Labor is for renewable energy and lower power bills. The Prime Minister is for more coal and higher power bills. North-west Tasmania has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, but, thanks to the Prime Minister's complete capitulation to the hard-right agenda on renewables, billions of dollars of investment and thousands of potential jobs in renewable energy in Tasmania are now threatened. Tasmanians know their Battery of the Nation vision isn't the Liberal Party's. It is an idea that has a long history in Tasmania, with strong support from many industry players, including former Hydro-Electric Commission chairman Peter Rae. It was not invented by the Prime Minister, as he said last week. It is an idea that only stacks up alongside a broader transition to renewable energy. Labor understands this transition. We need to ensure a clean, modern energy system. Labor understands the huge potential this transition brings to Tasmania in terms of jobs, clean and affordable energy and lower pollution. It is a transition that a divided and anti-renewables coalition cannot and will not deliver. Instead, it means no Battery of the Nation and higher bills for all Tasmanians.

The Prime Minister's backflip on the Battery of the Nation only further demonstrates that any credible development of evidence based policy and taking serious action on climate change and power prices is in tatters. Tasmanians want certainty in where investment will be attracted to build renewable energy to be used across the country—and the north-west of Tasmania, with some of the best renewable energy in the world, is attracting interest. As I said before, more than $2 billion in planned investment is now under threat by those opposite. And we can thank, in part, Senator Eric Abetz, who continues to push forward not the interests of Tasmanians but the interests of the troglodytes in the Liberal Party.

There could be certainty in lower power prices, which can only be driven by Labor's commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030; certainty in reduced pollution; and certainty in jobs. Hydro Tasmania has said that the Battery of the Nation initiative supports Australia to embrace cost-effective renewable energy generation while maintaining secure, reliable energy supply. But expanding the pumped hydro arrangements in Tasmania through that initiative only makes sense if you have a government in Canberra that will deliver renewable energy investment, not seek to strangle it as this government has and will.

This government's definition of clean energy is coal fired power. This government's definition of what Australian taxpayers want for their money is new coal-fired power stations—which take the better part of a decade to build, are not as flexible as a modern energy system requires and are exposed to high levels of carbon risk. And guess what? They also produce expensive electricity. Even this government's own Treasurer has admitted that new coal power stations are not the answer to higher power bills, saying 'new cheap coal is a bit of a myth'.

The reality is that this government is not focused on lower energy prices or reducing pollution; it's just about appeasing the Prime Minister's enemies in the Liberal Party so he can keep his job. But even that strategy has come undone at the seams. This government's energy plan will smash jobs and investment in renewables. It will achieve no significant cuts in pollution from the sector that is responsible for a third of the total carbon pollution in our economy and it will push power prices up even further.

The experts have been very clear that the best way to lower power prices is to support new, cheap, reliable and clean electricity generation investment, and the cheapest new generation today and into the future is renewables backed up by appropriate storage. This is exactly what Labor will deliver. We will not walk away from our commitment to 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and our 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 on 2005 levels. We will declare my region, the north-west coast of Tasmania, as Australia's first renewable energy zone, sending a signal to investors to invest, generate and create renewable energy jobs in Braddon. My electorate can deliver some of the cheapest wind power anywhere in the world, with the potential to be a great export earner, selling electricity to places like Victoria and receiving income back to be used for support services and to do other great things in my state.

Senator Abetz yesterday destroyed the Tasmanian government's position on the National Energy Guarantee. The Prime Minister and Senator Abetz have abandoned Tasmania's renewable energy industry. It is now abundantly clear that the Prime Minister cannot provide the leadership needed to solve his energy crisis.