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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2380


Senator SANDERS(5.10) —I note that the annual report of the Department of Resources and Energy is fairly complete but it lacks one basic ingredient; that is, an overall energy strategy for the country. There simply is no overall energy strategy. How will we manage our resources? How will we martial them for the future when our non-renewable resources run out? The whole program is deficient, the whole report is deficient in any description of how we will support renewable energy-the energy sources that can take us into perpetuity. Almost everything in this report is based on the concept that we should be able to dig it out of the ground, sell it off to industry and make a big profit out of it. The whole idea of modern marketing is to control the entire resource. We own the mine, the refinery and the outlets and make a lot of money. I once had an exploration person from the Exxon oil company address my class in California. One of my students asked him why Exxon was not interested in solar power. He answered: `Because we cannot own the sun'. That is a very prevalent attitude, not only in industry but also, apparently, in our Government.

Studies are carried out in Australia about renewable energy, but they are just studies. We are lagging behind the rest of the world by at least 20 years in some aspects. We do not need to study whether these procedures work. We need to implement them. We need to implement wind and solar power-the things that other countries are going ahead with. Furthermore, we need to encourage the use of alternative technologies and renewable resources by tax incentives. One of the biggest power producing utilities in the United States is the Tennessee Valley Authority. It has found that it pays to subsidise the use of wood and solar heaters to save electricity. It will actually install equipment, allow people to use it and charge them over a 10-year period. Furthermore, in countries other than Australia there are tax incentives to install solar powered equipment, wood heaters and the like which use renewable energy. We have nothing here; in fact, we have disincentives. In my home State of Tasmania the Hydro-Electric Commission will actually charge a person more for power if he puts in a solar water heater to heat his water. It will charge him more for the booster electricity.

We have seen around the world a burgeoning in wind power. Denmark has developed an industry which now employs 3,000 people building windmills which are then exported. There is no technical reason why this could not be done in Australia. The reason it is not done is that the Government is simply not interested. Big business-the big oil companies and mining companies-is not interested. In Hawaii I recently visited a field of 250 windmills made by the Jacobs windmill company, a division of the Control Data Corporation. It furnishes one-tenth of the electricity to the grid of the big island of Hawaii. More recently, I met a representative of Control Data and the Jacobs wind power division. He was looking for places in Australia to build windmills for Control Data, a very large firm, but he was having no luck in interesting any governmental agencies in providing support. We are cutting off not only our employment possibilities but also our energy possibilities.

Another matter is ethanol. We have heard over and over again that ethanol cannot be competitive. It can compete. It could be produced from our grain surplus and our sugar cane surplus. It could be combined with petrol as a fuel. Once again, the oil companies are not keen to do this and it does not go ahead. We desperately need an overall energy strategy for Australia and the will to make it work.