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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 80

Senator MILNE (8:25 PM) —I have listened with interest to Senator Johnston and there are a couple of issues I would like to raise. He says that the government must make a decision within a year. Realistically, how many sites does he think are going to be up for assessment in any one year? Given the volumes of greenhouse gases we are talking about—and we are talking about coal-fired power stations pumping out huge volumes of carbon dioxide converted to liquid CO2 and pumped by pipelines to various sites—we are giving the minister one year. It is going to involve a whole bureaucracy, depending on the number of sites. In the pilot phases and the early years there might only be a few, but it could well end up being a huge number of sites when you consider the number of coal-fired power stations on the east coast of Australia and the lack of suitable sites on the east coast of Australia. There is none off the Hunter Valley. There are better prospective sites off Gippsland and Victoria, but there is certainly none off the Hunter Valley. According to the International Energy Agency maps, the most prospective sites are off the North West Shelf. It would be an awfully long pipeline from the Hunter Valley to the North West Shelf, dare I say. With carbon dioxide going one way and water the other, according to Senator Heffernan’s plan we will have an awful lot of carbonated water going one way or the other! However, that is not the point.

The issue here is: how many sites? You are saying the minister must decide within a year. That is a huge workload to be dealt with in that time. The second thing is: why five years? Whilst in the initial phases there might be greater certainty about the geological structures, as the volume increases and the necessity for more sites increases, some sites may well need longer than five years to make a decision about whether they are suitable. I would like to know why Senator Johnston has determined a five-year term and whether he thinks one year is realistic given the volumes we are talking about—if this actually proceeds in the way that the government and perhaps the opposition think it might.