Emergency Management (Electricity Supply Emergencies) Amendment Bill
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
IN PARLIAMENT: Mr GOLDSWORTHY ( Kavel ) ( 16:35 ): We do not need this legislation that is before the house because what we have seen today is that the truth has finally come out. The truth has finally been revealed about what offer was made by Alinta.
An honourable member interjecting:
Mr GOLDSWORTHY: The government know this. They are making comments and interjecting. They know that the truth has been revealed over the last 24 hours. As a consequence of that, we do not need this legislation. The member for Ramsay, in her concluding remarks, said that South Australia is leading the country. I will tell you what it is leading the country in. It is leading the country in unemployment, high taxes, high electricity bills, high water bills and right across many areas of government of responsibility—that is what it is leading the country in.
These last 24 hours have been a revelation with the information the opposition has received that there was a deal. There was an offer from Alinta in relation to continuing the operation of the Northern power station. The Premier's refusal to provide just $24 million to keep that power station operating is an economically damaging decision by the government. The decision to force the Northern power station to close will cost South Australian households well over $1 billion in increased electricity bills and higher taxes.
We have seen the Premier and government ministers move around in their statements in relation to Alinta. Initially, they said there was no offer. We questioned the government here in question time over many days and their position was 'no offer'—then they moved. They jumped around and said that the offer did not meet their needs. It is pretty clear that, if the offer had been taken up, we would not be faced with a bill of $550 million on a patch-up job.
I think that the government—the Premier and the relevant ministers—knew that the truth was going to come out eventually, so we saw a diversion strategy put in place, and that was the Premier going to a press conference that federal minister Frydenberg was holding and hijacking that press conference. I think they knew that the truth was going to come out eventually, so that was a diversionary tactic that they put in place to take attention away from the fact that the truth would eventually be revealed.
We know the Labor Party are good at this. It is a strategy that they implement often. I have been around the place long enough now to know how they operate, and this has all the hallmarks of that. If the Premier had just put the $24 million on the table, South Australian households' annual electricity bills would be hundreds of dollars cheaper and there would be no need for this $550 million patch-up job. We received a letter from Alinta to the Weatherill government that reveals an offer to keep the Northern power station operating for three years with the support of $24 million from the government. Their obsession with wind power drove cheap base load power out of the state, forcing up electricity, destabilising the grid and plunging South Australia into our blackout situation.
I listened to the Treasurer, who is the Minister for Energy, talking today about the Pelican Point power station. I have made comments about this previously in the house. I have been around long enough to remember the strident, vehement opposition that the then Labor opposition had against the construction of the Pelican Point power station. There were protests on the front steps of Parliament House. They were saying that the hot water discharged into the North Arm and the Port River was going to kill the dolphins. It was the biggest load of rubbish you could think of, but that was their position back in those days.
Now they are singing the praises of the Pelican Point power station. They did everything they could to stop the construction of that very important piece of infrastructure, but now, 15 years later or so, they are singing its praises. They cannot have it both ways. They have to be consistent in their approach on that matter, but their consistency in their approach in relation to promoting renewable energy has been one of the reasons why we are in the crisis we face today.
Their obsession with wind power and renewable energy has been confirmed by AEMO's report that the loss of power from wind farms was instrumental in the statewide blackout on 28 September. AEMO's report makes it clear that, had nine wind farms not tripped unnecessarily, there would not have been a statewide blackout. The Premier's claim that the wind farms were in no way responsible for the statewide blackout has been totally discredited. There is a lot of evidence before the South Australian community that shows that the government has been responsible for a failure in their energy policy. It has resulted in high electricity prices and unreliable supply.
As I said, what has been revealed in the last 24 hours is the hypocrisy of the government saying that there was no deal when we know there was a deal. We do not need this legislation. As other members have said, it has been brought on in a hasty fashion. We wanted to debate the very important legislation before the house in relation to child protection; however, the government has brought this into parliament without any notice at all. It is not normal practice and the government does not pay due respect to the parliamentary process.