REGULATIONS AND DETERMINATIONS - Industry Research and Development (Bankable Feasibility Study on High-Efficiency Low-Emissions Coal Plant in Collinsville Program) Instrument 2020 - Disallowance

The Senate leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Waters, quoted a lot from professors and people from other political parties about whether or not this should happen. But, nobody that I heard her quote—I missed the beginning of Senator Waters' remarks, but I doubt there were any quotes—actually live in Collinsville or even live in North Queensland. I know, visiting Collinsville many, many times, that they would love to see this job-creating project in this region.

I know that the Indigenous people, the Birri people of this region, would love to see a project of this nature come there and provide them jobs. Indeed, the Birri people know about energy. They were involved in a solar panel project a few years ago with RATCH at the site of the old Collinsville coal-fired power station. They were very happy to receive some hundreds of jobs through that project. Of course, renewable is a sugar hit. It only lasts for a little bit, then the jobs go away. That's exactly what happened to the Birri people. Once the solar panels were installed, all the jobs went, and there were no more jobs for them there at Collinsville. They were meant to go back to penury and poverty, whilst renewable energy warms the hearts of those in the city. They want real jobs. They want ongoing jobs. That's why they got together as a group. A Birri leader, Ash Dodd, formed a company called Shine Energy. They decided to get behind a coal-fired power station because they've got a coal mine on their lands. All that coal currently goes overseas to create jobs in other countries, so they thought, 'Why don't we keep some of it here for our own people?' and use some indigenous coal here to create Indigenous jobs. Yet the Greens are once again denying the franchise to Indigenous peoples because they are pursuing an ideological campaign against coal-fired power; not one supporting people who actually live in these regions.

I only have limited time, so I want to quickly ask: what are the Greens afraid of? If everything Senator Waters says is right and this $3.3 million study that we're debating here—it is a study we're debating here tonight, not the project—comes back and says, 'This is not viable, it can't work,' I've said on the record that I'll accept that. That's fine. Let's focus on what can work. If Senator Waters is so confident in what she's said, what is she afraid of? Won't the inquiry find that? I know she is afraid. Senator Waters is quite intelligent and she would know that there have actually been a number of detailed engineering studies showing that a coal-fired power station at Collinsville would stack up with lower prices for people in North Queensland, and it could potentially make money depending on how it works with the price guarantee that exists in Queensland. Back in 2013, Wayne Swan commissioned a study by GHD which found this very thing. Another report by, I think, Energy Edge, which was commissioned by the Queensland department of environment and energy, had very similar conclusions about this coal-fired power station.

It stacks up for a reason: there is no base-load power station in North Queensland, and, with increasing investment in renewables in North Queensland, the case for this power station becomes even more clear, because there needs to be a station that can follow the load of, particularly, solar in North Queensland. With modern, coal-fired power technologies, we can make sure that the coal is there in the morning and the evenings when the sun is not, to ensure that North Queensland people have power 24 hours a day, just as I'm sure Senator Waters would like, and, most importantly, keep those manufacturing industries going in Townsville, like the copper refinery and the zinc refinery and many other jobs in that industry in Townsville. So I look forward to seeing the results of this study. I hope the Senate confirms it, as it did late last year, because we should back Indigenous Australians in their desire to create jobs in their region. And we desperately need some reliable, base-load power in North Queensland.

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