Hon George Christensen MP

Federation Chamber George Christensen Reply Statement on Coal-Fired Power Stations: What we have just heard absolutely defies logic. While Japan, Indonesia, China and even European nations are building hundreds of state-of-the-art coal-fired power stations, we have the opposition sitting here saying that it is yesterday’s technology. What a joke. When mankind harnessed the energy of fire it revolutionised the way humans live their lives. We did not shift to that technology—fire—because there was a tax on the cold or because of a ban on raw meat. Successive technologies have driven economies since before the word ‘economy’ was even invented. Each wave of technology introduced greater efficiencies, more prosperity, more leisure time, and, unfortunately, more time to indulge in non-productive ideologically driven pursuits such as environmental activism.

Yet, here we are in the 21st century, being told by inner-city greenies that North Queenslanders should be prevented from having such a modern economy—prevented from having jobs. The link between affordable energy and jobs is undeniable. South Australia’s peak business group, Business SA, is confirmed that power prices and blackouts were having an effect on business insurance expenses and, as Business SA executive Anthony Penney told a parliamentary inquiry on Friday, they were ‘unfortunately having an impact on employment as well’.

There was a report in The Weekend Australian saying that industry lost $450 million in the wake of the statewide blackout in September, when a storm downed transmission lines that caused a trip in wind farm power generation and overloaded the Victorian connector. Mr Penney told the parliamentary inquiry:

If you look at today’s future energy prices, we’re still almost 30 per cent higher than the eastern states. Businesses constantly tell us it’s affordability that’s the No 1 issue followed by reliability. Businesses are looking to how to better manage their staffing levels due to overall costs.

No doubt impressed with the damage inflicted on South Australia’s economy by a reckless pursuit of renewable non-base-load energy, and the dumping of coal-fired power, the Queensland Labor government wants to follow suit, setting a 50 per cent renewable energy target.

Affordable energy is essential to maintaining, much less growing, any economy. This fact was recognised in a North and Northwest Queenslandsustainable resource feasibility studies report, commissioned, I might say, by the Gillard Labor government. That report was on base load power in North Queensland and the Dalrymple agricultural scheme. The key finding in that report commissioned by Labor was that a major coal-fired power station would put strong downward pressure on electricity prices, with a potential $836 million social cost-benefit gain. The report found that such a coal-fired power station would be commercially viable if it were built at the mouth of a coalmine in the Galilee Basin—the same Galilee Basin that people like the previous speaker secretly oppose, even though their leader says something different.

In March 2014, the Australian Energy Market Operator reported that there would be a breach of the reliability standard in Queensland by 2020-21—there would not be enough generation capacity to actually meet demand. Building extra capacity in the system is an imperative, and if we are to learn anything from South Australia it is that the extra capacity cannot come at the expense of reliability and affordability. Coal is reliable and it is affordable. New clean coal technology means that an ultrasupercritical generator can use a pulverised coal combustion system, operating at higher temperature and pressure, to generate reliable supply with up to 50 per cent fewer emissions than conventional coal-fired generators.

Using the new technology to meet increasing demand and to replace older high-emission technology would seem like an obvious choice for anyone that wants to reduce overall emissions, but the hopes and dreams that the ideologues discuss over their double-decaf soy lattes is not a reduction of emissions. The real goal for them, their endgame, is an end to fossil fuels, an end to big business and an end to capitalism and democracy. These things they hate most—business, capitalism and the efficient use of resources—have underpinned the great economies of the world, all the economies where lifestyle, human achievement and development have excelled.

In North Queensland, we are blessed with resources—one of the resources being coal, in both the Bowen Basin and the Galilee Basin. The industry employs 44,000 people and it pays more than $5.7 billion in wages. Even greater benefit is gained through indirect employment and taxes and royalties paid to state and federal governments. Despite the fact that we are blessed with such resources, we do not use the coal ourselves where we could get cheaper energy and more jobs as an outcome.

Document Source from Parliament of Australia / Federation Chamber on 22/05/2017 Item Federation Chamber – PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS – Energy Speaker :Christensen, George, MP