Hon George Christensen MP
Hon George Christensen MP

If there were two things that contribute the most to job creation in North Queensland, they would be water and energy. The Liberal-National government is committed to building water infrastructure in the north, with projects like Urannah Dam, Hell’s Gate Dam, raising the Burdekin Falls Dam wall and increasing the capacity of the Burdekin Haughton channel already under planning and funded by the federal government.

North Queensland also has drawn great confidence from this government’s willingness to address energy security and recognise the necessity for reliable baseload power at an affordable cost. Clean coal technology used in ultra-supercritical generators delivers that reliable and affordable power, with something like 30 to 40 per cent less emissions than the some of the outdated technology currently used for baseload generation.

I visited one of those low-emissions coal-fired power stations at the port of Mundra in India and saw firsthand the number of people employed by both the largest coal-importing port in the world and the nearby generators and surrounding support infrastructure. More importantly, the reliable and affordable baseload electricity being generated is bringing the Indian people out of energy poverty by creating industries that generate employment.

In Queensland we already have a higher standard of living and we have the opportunity to secure that standard of living for more Australians into the future. Queensland’s electricity grid is not yet burdened with overreliance on intermittent renewable energy, so not even a cyclone could cause a statewide blackout. But we are in need of jobs. We have abundant coal in Queensland, and a low-emissions coal-fired generator located at the mouth of a coalmine or along a train line where coal is transported would provide enormous cost efficiency and avoid transmission losses that occur when power is sent from the southern parts of the state. That means lower power prices for an industry that is already established and also for new industries looking for a home base to start up. Industry needs energy and it needs energy at an affordable price. Industry also needs to know that it can rely on that energy being there when it is required.

A Townsville Enterprise Limited report titled Base load power in North Queensland and the Dalrymple Agricultural Scheme, a report funded by a federal Labor government, noted the need for additional capacity. It said:

In March 2014, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) reported under its medium economic growth scenario that there would likely be a breach of the reliability standard (deficit of suitable generation capacity) in Queensland in 2020-21 without increased supply capacity.

The Labor funded report found that a $1.778 billion coal-fired power station at a greenfield coalmine mouth would be commercially viable, that it would put strong downward pressure on electricity prices, with a potential social cost-benefit gain of $836 million. 

Chamber Federation Chamber on 28/02/2017

Item Federation Chamber – CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS – North Queensland: Water and Energy

Speaker :Christensen, George, MP