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Wednesday, 16 April 1980
Page: 1503

Senator PETER BAUME (New South Wales) - The Senate is discussing the Pipeline Construction (Dalton to Canberra) Bill 1980. As Senator Walsh finally acknowledged in the concluding stages of his speech the Bill provides for an extension of the pipeline system to provide to the national capital natural gas which it needs and which it will welcome. As a senator for New South Wales I want to talk a little about what natural gas provision has meant to my city, the city of Sydney, and to the State of New South Wales in which I live. I am sure that the honourable senator who will follow me in this debate will make the same kinds of comments.

The supply of natural gas in Sydney is in the hands of one large undertaking. Last year it sold to people in Sydney- to residential, commercial and industrial customers- more than $100m worth of natural gas. That market has grown up in just a few years. The sales of natural gas of the subsidiaries of this single, large chartered organisation were worth approximately another $25m.

The Australian Gas Light Co. serves Sydney and the Sydney region well. The company is out to fulfil its obligation to supply natural gas and its obligations to look after developing suburbs in the Sydney conurbation. {Quorum formed). I was reminding the Senate of the benefits which have flowed to the city of Sydney and the State of New South Wales from the provision of natural gas. I was reminding the Senate also of the part which the Australian Gas Light Co. had played in the provision of this new service.

I could not help noticing that one of my parliamentary colleagues from New South Wales is present in the chamber. I would like to assure him that when the new Parliament House in Macquarie Street in Sydney is finished it will be just another of the large new buildings which have converted to natural gas for heating, kitchens and all other purposes. The Australian Gas Light Co. has been able, through the reticulation system made possible through the pipeline arrangements, to encompass whole new suburban areas in the developing parts of Sydney. In the last year the suburbs of St Marys, Doonside and Rooty Hill and parts of Camden and Baulkham Hills have been brought within the grid and have been converted to the use of natural gas. None of that would have been possible without the presence of the pipeline and without the enterprise which Commonwealth governments have shown in making the pipeline available and in helping it to develop. At the same time, extensive alterations are being made to the reticulation system in Sydney to make the supply of gas even more possible.

This Bill demonstrates that what is being done for Sydney and the Sydney conurbation can be done for other parts of New South Wales, lt is the aim of those who distribute the gas to do just that. Of course, the natural gas comes from the Moomba field in the Cooper Basin. It is carried some 1,350 kilometres by a pipeline running across New South Wales from Moomba to Wilton and from Wilton it is carried through the gas company's pipes to Sydney. The present proposal is to make several spur lines from the main pipeline to supply other major areas of New South Wales. The questions that people in my State want answered are: Where will these spur lines go? Which other centres of population will get supplies of natural gas and when will they get them?

The Bill presently under consideration is one demonstration of the Government's intention to do what it can to assist with the spread of natural gas, in fact, a purpose in which it has been associated with the Australian Gas Light Company. Towards the end of 1979 the Government announced that it proposed to have natural gas reticulated in Canberra. It called for applications from parties interested in being involved in this enterprise. The Australian Gas Light Company made a bid for the franchise and, in fact, has now been offered the contract to supply this line. For a city with a population reaching a quarter of a million people it will mean the supply of an energy source which it does not have. The ACT, situated within New South Wales although it is not part of that State, is not the only area which will benefit. It is obviously dependent upon the pipeline running through New South Wales. Other cities in my State are looking to the development of the pipeline. Of course, Newcastle is the city which comes to mind most immediately. Work is already being done on building a pipeline to Newcastle from Sydney, from the main natural gas line, to supply to that great industrial centre the natural gas which it needs and which it does not have available.

Once again I pay tribute to AGL for its involvement in that process. It is involved in the construction of the line, lt is involved in supplying the infrastructure and it will be involved in making sure that not only the residents but also the great industrial and commercial enterprises of the industrial city of Newcastle will have this resource open to them. Cootamundra and Wagga will also require natural gas for their development. As is well known, arrangements are already under way for these towns in New South Wales to gain access to natural gas supplies.

When I looked into the use that was being made of natural gas supplies in Sydney and in New South Wales generally I was surprised by the variety of enterprises which were making use of this energy source. It is cheap, clean and available in abundance. It is obviously sensible that we should use it. For example, it is sensible that we should be using natural gas in the Australian Capital Territory and not less available, more expensive and dirtier sources of energy. I come back to the situation in my city of Sydney. Most people in Sydney do not know of some of the organisations which are using natural gas. The Hyatt Kingsgate Hotel in Kings Cross, one of the landmarks of that part of the city, was Sydney's first major hotel to be completely converted to natural gas for its air conditioning, heating systems, kitchens and laundry driers. This would not have been possible without the provision of the pipeline. None of this would be available in other cities without the extension of this pipeline. The power plant at the Botany mill of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd- Botany being an industrial suburb of Sydney- has now been converted from coal and oil, which are becoming less available and more expensive, to natural gas firing. The provision of this new source of energy, of course, will hold down costs, increase the likelihood of jobs and increase the value and the profits of the enterprise in Sydney. It will also help our State and help the country. Tip Top Bakeries, a very large enterprise in Sydney, has just converted an automatic oven to natural gas. I suppose that many people in Sydney eat bread made by Tip Top Bakeries. From that natural gas fired oven it produces over 6,000 loaves per hour. In fact, most of Sydney's bread is now cooked by natural gas.

In Wollongong, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd has converted to natural gas. In the inner western suburbs of Sydney, CSR Chemicals Ltd, where my wife worked before we married, is now a large user of natural gas for its energy purposes and as a raw material for the manufacture of industrial chemicals, plasticisers and solvents. Enterprises on Kooragang Island, a great industrial development in the area of Newcastle of which I am sure my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland would be aware, are already planning to use natural gas when the Newcastle pipeline is completed. Eastern Nitrogen Ltd will use natural gas in the manufacture of fertilisers at Kooragang Island.

I have mentioned just a few of the many enterprises which now use this resource. The Fraser Government is playing its part. Under this Government the pipeline has been completed, arrangements have been entered into for the new spur lines to be planned, for the appropriate legislation to be passed, for contracts to be called and let, and for the construction of lines to go ahead. The present Bill is just one in a series which will give to the people of New South Wales greater availability of a resource which they need and want. I believe that it reflects great credit on the Government that it is part of this enterprise, and I commend the Bill.

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