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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7966

Mr DRUM (Murray) (16:13): The energy crisis that we have in Australia at the moment is quite simply a gigantic failure of the states. The states have responsibility for providing energy to their people in each of their respective jurisdictions. At the moment in Queensland, they actually own the poles and wires. The poles and wires have been acknowledged as creating about 50 per cent of the increases in families' bills. They actually own the Queensland poles and wires, and this gold-plating is just going on. It's an incredible system. The Queensland government have actually been caught out for gaming the system and creating further profits than anyone else would be game to announce, yet this has been run by the government against the people of their own state. In Victoria, where I live, they are sitting on 50 years of gas reserves, and yet the Andrews government has a moratorium and a ban on the extraction and even the exploration of gas. They've got the opportunity to bring the explorers in, find out where the gas seams are, bring more gas onto the market and create lower electricity prices, but they choose not to. They choose not to have any gas exploration. Certainly they have no gas extraction from onshore gas wells in Victoria.

What they want to do is build a gas port off one of the docks in Melbourne, so they're happy for someone else in Australia to have gas wells, they just don't want to do it in their state. In Victoria, they don't care whether it comes from the Northern Territory, whether the gas is drilled in Western Australia, whether it's taken out of Queensland or whether it's even from South Australia. They're happy to bring it around on boats, they just don't want to have any in their own patch, because, somehow or other, it's okay for someone else to do that work, but they don't want to get their hands dirty themselves.

In Victoria, they also tripled the coal royalties that they were charging at the Hazelwood mine. Within three months of that decision, the French owners decided to close Hazelwood down. This has also had a huge impact on the price of electricity in Victoria. There are some of the most amazing anti-electricity price policies that are coming out of the Victorian Labor government, and yet all of a sudden we look around the various states and see the cost of energy to the average Australian household. Well, the Australian government felt as though it had to get involved. It had to try and generate a NEG, a National Energy Guarantee, that would somehow or other create further investment into the sector, not just in investment for renewables. We all love renewables and we all want renewables to be the cornerstone of our electricity grid, but we also want to look after the families and the businesses that need electricity when the sun is not shining and when the wind is not blowing. The previous member said her plan is that she wants more and more renewables backed up by appropriate storage, but she failed to mention what this appropriate storage could be for the whole world.

Mr Conroy: It's called pumped hydro.

Mr DRUM: Yes, pumped hydro works beautifully in Tasmania, but it doesn't quite work in Western Australia.

Mr Conroy interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The member for Shortland is warned!

Mr DRUM: It doesn't quite work in South Australia, it doesn't quite work in Queensland and it doesn't quite work in New South Wales. It will when we get Snowy Hydro 2.0 up and built, but the concept that pumped hydro or natural hydro can effectively be the battery for everybody, at the moment, doesn't work. At the moment we need base load and dispatchable electricity for when our families need it and when our industry needs it.

We understand that some of the plans around here are for just more and more renewables. It's going to make that other mix of the system, which is critical and which is the dispatchable power, even more expensive. There is no way of dodging this. The more you load up the system with renewables for when everything is going well—when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing—the more expensive it's going to be to rely on dispatchable power, whether it's gas-generated or coal-generated, to deliver the power and electricity when it's needed. This is an inescapable fact that the opposition are happy to gloss over because they want to keep sheeting home the fact that renewables are the answer to everything. We're hoping one day renewables will be, but at the moment, they're not. (Time expired)