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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7956

Ms COLLINS (1:42 PM) —I stand to support the renewable energy target legislation package. The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2009 represent the government’s strong commitment to action on climate change. These bills introduced in the House certainly deliver on the government’s election commitment to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity is supplied from renewable sources by 2020. These bills do that by amending the legislation to expand the mandatory renewable energy target scheme. Since the Rudd government came to office, more than 80,000 solar systems are set to be installed on Australia’s rooftops as part of the solar rebate scheme. As we know, the renewable energy target bills are going to be replacing that with solar credits.

What I want to talk about specifically today is Tasmania. For a small state Tasmania really punches above its weight when it comes to generating renewable energy. We are a world leader when it comes to renewable energy. Tasmania currently generates nearly half of Australia’s renewable energy. Most of that is of course through our hydro-electric scheme. Hydro has been the predominant source of electricity in Tasmania since the first power stations were built in the early 1900s. There are currently 29 hydro-electricity power plants in seven different catchment areas throughout Tasmania.

In the 2007-08 year approximately 70 per cent of Tasmania’s electricity was generated from renewable sources. Tasmania also has world-class resources for wind generation. There are two operating wind farms in the state, Woolnorth wind farm in the state’s north-west and the Huxley Hill wind farm on King Island. As the science and technology expands across renewable energy in Tasmania, we are also seeing huge potential in geothermal and with the ocean resources of wave and tidal movement. Tasmania has been doing a lot when it comes to renewable energy. These expanded targets will also mean a great deal to Tasmania. The state’s unique environment affords Tasmania an opportunity to create further renewable energy solutions through this RET scheme—for example, Roaring 40s Renewable Energy, which currently has 500 megawatts of new wind energy already in the developmental phase. This project alone is a $1.5 billion investment for the renewable energy industry in Tasmania. Initial work, as people have heard today, has begun on the Musselroe wind farm in the north-east of Tasmania. Completion of this project is dependent on the successful passage of this legislation.

With the concern of reduced rainfall in Tasmania, the prolonged drought has required Hydro Tasmania to look at other feasible options to recover energy loss—although in recent months our rainfall has increased substantially and the hydro dams are filling up again. These are all new projects being considered; however, they can only progress with the RET scheme. This RET scheme will provide support for Tasmanian jobs and the Tasmanian economy, but it is also an investment in rural and regional Tasmania. A recent study undertaken for the Climate Institute by McLennan Magasanik Associates found that the RET would deliver around 500 permanent jobs and around 1,300 construction jobs at the peak of activity throughout Tasmania. This is extremely positive for Tasmania because it supports the growing green-collar workforce. Of course, there will be numerous indirect jobs also.

This RET scheme is about more than just investments and jobs; it is about ensuring we slow down Australia’s emission of greenhouse gases. And it is just one of the Rudd government’s measures to tackle climate change. In the last few weeks, we have heard in this place about the CPRS, which those on the other side of the House obviously decided not to support. I am pleased that, hopefully, they will be supporting the RET when we learn of and negotiate on their amendments. This legislation is really important for places like Tasmania and for the Tasmanian economy. I am pleased to be able to stand and support these bills today.