In North Queensland there is not a reliable base load form of power supply. The last northern-most power station of that kind is west of where I live, which is in Rockhampton, and where Susan lives, which is up in Townsville.
Senator MCDONALD (Queensland) (14:52):
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Affordable energy is vital to jobs and prosperity in my home state of Queensland. Could the minister update the Senate on any recent developments to lower power prices in North Queensland?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:52):
I thank Senator McDonald for her question and know about her passion for supporting the development of North Queensland. You need to have reliable and affordable energy to develop any part of the country. As I know Senator McDonald would know well, in North Queensland there is not a reliable base load form of power supply. The last northern-most power station of that kind is west of where I live, which is in Rockhampton, and where Susan lives, which is up in Townsville. There's nothing in between or, indeed, further north of Townsville, so it's very exciting that the government was able to announce a couple of weeks ago that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility had approved a loan of $610 million for a proposed power station to be built in an old gold mine.
Genex Power's Kidston pumped hydro project would provide reliable and affordable power for North Queenslanders to protect jobs in North Queensland, to help families in North Queensland and to bring down electricity prices in North Queensland, and it would also have benefits across Queensland given electricity prices are averaged for households across the state. The project itself would also, of course, have a lot of direct benefits. Five hundred and ten people are expected to be employed in its construction in an ongoing fashion, and there will be 30 full-time jobs. Overall, Deloitte estimates that it will provide a $235 million economic benefit to the Queensland economy, and part of those benefits include electricity price savings of around $500 million from this project alone.
These investments and other investments that the government is making are directly helping to bring down power prices, because the way we bring down power prices is to invest in more power supply. If we have more power supply, that will help take the pressure off power prices, and that's why we support all types of power generation. That's why we support the ambition of North Queenslanders to have the same types of reliable power supply that the rest of the country has, and that's why this investment from the NAIF is such a game changer for North Queensland.
The PRESIDENT: Senator McDonald, a supplementary question.
Senator MCDONALD (Queensland) (14:54):
What can governments do to ensure investment in new baseload power sources in Queensland?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:54):
I thank Senator McDonald, again, for that supplementary question. As I alluded to, the government is supporting all types of energy investments across the country as well. The Genex power station is a very exciting project, but the government is also supporting a proposed high-efficiency low-emission coal-fired power station at Collinsville in North Queensland. That's a great project—a fantastic project—that is being proposed by a company called Shine Energy, owned and operated by traditional owners; owned and operated by Indigenous Australians.
Ashley Dodd is the managing director. He is a person of the Birri Gubba nation. He and his people want power supplies, just like the rest of the country. So, guess what? Our First Australians want reliable and affordable power to provide jobs for themselves, just as much as we have access to it in other parts of the country. So I applaud Ashley Dodd and the Birri Gubba nation for bringing this proposal forward. The government is supporting it through funding a business case and I wish them all the best in development of their great proposal.
The PRESIDENT: Senator McDonald, a final supplementary question.
Senator MCDONALD (Queensland) (14:55):
What would be the consequences of failing to take action to bring down power prices and secure reliable baseload power for all Australians?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:55):
I think we don't have to look too far to see the consequences—in this chamber itself! We just have to look over there in the other corner of this chamber to see exactly what will happen if we oppose power supply. Over there we have a mob of Greens who are opposed to coal, opposed to gas and opposed to nuclear, and they're opposed to their wind farms as well! I don't know how we're going to generate power in the country if these guys ever have the levers of power. They're opposed to all types of power supply, basically, in this country. They don't support solar—they'll find a reason to oppose solar as well at some point!
They want to turn the lights off. The last one to leave will turn the lights off if the Greens are ever in charge! Those would be the consequences if we opposed forms of power investment.
I forgot hydro—they're against hydro too! They're against that—they can't stand it, they're against everything! But if we didn't support power supplies, we wouldn't have power and we'd have high power prices and no jobs.