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Barnett tidal power committee a cop-out says Tuckey.

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Media Releases The Hon Wilson Tuckey MP Minister for Forestry and Conservation

AFFA00/36TU 12 May 2000


The Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, Wilson Tuckey, has slammed the WA Energy Minister, Colin Barnett, for setting up a Ministerial Advisory Committee with very narrow inquiry terms loaded in favour of the gas proposal and against the Derby Tidal power proposal.

Colin Barnett is trying the oldest political trick in the book in setting up an inquiry that is designed to give him the answers he wants to hear in favour of the recommended gas tenderer. He is setting up the inquiry and he knows what the outcome will be.

The Minister's proposal to compare equally the gas and tidal options is totally disingenuous. He knows that the start-up costs of tidal power are considerable and therefore some government assistance is required for capital development funding.

As the years role by in the proposed 120-year life of the Derby facility would see recurrent and maintenance funding fall to next to nothing in comparison to the gas alternative.

The Commonwealth has indicated that it will support the project, but obviously requires an independent evaluation before a firm commitment can be made.

Mr Barnett is practising a juvenile ploy to write to a senior Commonwealth Minister, demanding money when he knows that the Prime Minister has twice written to Premier Court and suggested a joint inquiry to establish due diligence on the project.

What Mr Barnett's committee should be doing is conducting an evaluation of the technical and economic viability of the project and recommending the level of State

and Commonwealth support which would be required for it to go ahead.

That will enable both governments to assess the costs and benefits. In other words, Mr Barnett is putting the cart before the horse in a transparent attempt to kill off the Derby Tidal power project.

Mr Barnett refers in his statement to the $21 million Federal fuel excise paid by Western Power, but he fails to mention that these funds will be returned under the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program. What better use for some of this money than to assist the Derby Tidal power proposal?

Mr Barnett is totally silent on the matter of any ongoing subsidy required in perpetuity to sustain the gas option. The fluctuating world oil price will be a major and ongoing negative factor for the alternative favoured so strongly by Barnett.

The WA Government is fully aware of the Prime Minister's interest in the concept of a national tidal energy project and this is entirely consistent with the Commonwealth's responsibilities to greenhouse gas abatement.

Further, it is the duty of the Howard Government to assess the overriding national interest considerations of the development of tidal energy in Australia.

Australia has the opportunity to readjust the source of supply of electricity which fuels our very heavy industries to one which produces no greenhouse emissions and that could theoretically reduce emissions from electricity generation by 70 per cent.

The present break-up of electricity generation is as follows:

households 15.8 per cent; ● light industry 1.6 per cent; ● commerce, tourism etc 10.6 per cent; and ● heavy industry 72 per cent. ●

However, in terms of employment, 12.2 per cent of electricity consumed employs approximately 70 per cent of the workforce. Obviously, household consumption is also substantially linked to this group.

Very few resources have the capacity to provide the base load characteristics to service such industries as aluminium smelting and electric arc furnaces.

Australia is, however, blessed with a massive base load energy resource which I choose to call 'lunar power', that is, the tides of the Kimberley region.

Colin Barnett has no vision to cover greenhouse emissions and issues related to the consumption of electricity across the nation. He must look beyond the raw arithmetic and take account of the national good.

Further inquiries:

Minister Tuckey's office: Graeme Hallett 0419 688 440


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