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    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Premier's speech to Powering North Queensland Summit, Townsville

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Thursday, August 31, 2017

    Premier's speech to Powering North Queensland Summit, Townsville

    If this conference was held here in Townsville three years ago, I'm not sure how many energy industry representatives would have attended.

    But I am sure the then Premier and his Treasurer would not have been here. 

    After all, the Treasurer of the day Tim Nicholls – the current leader of the LNP - dismissed renewable energy proponents as latte drinkers and chardonnay swillers.

    In words and deeds, Mr Nicholls did damage to an important industry for our State.

    Liberal National Party cuts

    He cut funding for the planned Cloncurry Solar project in the State’s north-west, and withdrew funding for the Solar Dawn project near Chinchilla in the south-west.

    Well, I am proud to be here - as is my Treasurer.

    I am not interested in what you drink, but I am interested in what you think – I am interested in how we can work together, where you will invest and when you will employ.

    Renewables overview

    We are proud to say that - in partnership with you - our Government has been able to reinforce Queensland's position as Australia's energy State.

    We are proud to say that - again in partnership with you - that we have been able to establish a new industry in Queensland - for large-scale renewables.  

    We are proud that this new industry will generate more electricity, more investment and more jobs for Queenslanders.

    The current pipeline of renewable energy projects is for 6552 megawatts of projects with more than $3.4 billion in investment to Queensland and supporting 2,700 jobs in Queensland.

    This injection of investment and jobs in renewable energy will help us offer secure and affordable electricity for Queensland homes and Queensland businesses.

    This injection of investment and jobs is almost exclusively devoted to regional and rural Queensland where additional economic activity is amplified.

    These additional power plants complement the established coal and gas-fired power generation.

    LNP and coal-fired power stations

    On the subject of coal – I know there has been a suggestion from the LNP that North Queensland needs a new High Energy Low Emission coal-fired power station.

    That’s not something the market’s been clamouring for – but you’d like to think Mr Nicholls had run the idea past his Federal colleagues to see if they would back him in.

    Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison might like to show off a lump of coal in Federal parliament, but the Financial Review revealed he told a policy forum that, quote “new, cheap coal is a bit of a myth.”

    That’s right, Scott Morrison admitted a HELE power station would take seven years to build, and produce electricity seven times more expensive than existing coal-fired generators.

    Such a plant is proposed without a proponent, a site, any funding source or any planning approval.

    And Queensland already has some of the youngest, most efficient coal-fired generators in the nation.

    Then on Monday this week, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put Tim Nicholls on even stickier paper, when he told Leigh Sales on 7.30, quote “We have no plans to build a coal-fired power station.”

    In Queensland, we have an energy mix - coal, gas and renewables - to deliver secure and affordable electricity.

    At the last election, I promised to stop the LNP electricity privatisations and restart renewable energy by exploring a 50% target by 2030.

    We made those commitments because they were in the best interests of Queenslanders, securing their energy supplies, attracting new investments and creating new jobs.

    That is why we made those commitments and that is why we kept those commitments.

    As the owner of electricity generation, transmission and distribution assets, we are able to put maximise downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. 

    Powering Queensland Plan

    Our $1.16 billion Powering Queensland Plan, announced in the State Budget, is a comprehensive strategy that no other State - or the Commonwealth for that matter - would or could replicate. 

    The Plan includes:

    • providing electricity price relief by investing $770 million to offset the Solar Bonus Scheme;
    • restarting Stanwell Corporation’s 385 megawatt (MW) Swanbank E gas-fired power station in south-east Queensland;
    • directing Stanwell Corporation to undertake strategies to place downward pressure on wholesale prices;
    • investigating the restructure of the Government owned Corporation generators and potential establishment of ‘CleanCo’;
    • delivering a $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan to strengthen and diversify the north’s energy supply;
    • establishing Queensland Energy Security Taskforce which will implement outcomes of the Finkel Review which are accepted by Queensland, among other actions;
    • confirming the government’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewable energy target;
    • undertaking a reverse auction for up to 400 megawatt of renewable energy, including 100 megawatts of energy storage;
    • improving large-scale project facilitation, planning and network connections;
    • implementing the Queensland Gas Action Plan; and 
    • continuing to advocate for stable, integrated national climate and energy policies.

    Powering North Queensland Plan

    Through initiatives like our $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan, as the asset owners we can reinvest dividends - on behalf of the community - in essential projects and infrastructure to connect new projects with the grid and the National Electricity Market.

    The Powering North Queensland Plan includes:

    • a $150 million reinvestment of Powerlink dividends for the development of strategic transmission infrastructure to support a clean energy hub, that will support up to 1,000 jobs for Powerlink construction of infrastructure. That is in addition to the approximately 3,600 jobs that will be created in the development of the three proposed renewable energy projects along the transmission line;
    • $100 million reinvestment of Stanwell dividends to help fund the proposed hydro-electric power station at Burdekin Falls Dam. Subject to feasibility investigations and other dam construction works, project construction will be targeted to commence from 2020, and support up to 200 jobs;
    • $100 million equity injection and reinvestment of dividends towards improvement works to ensure that the Burdekin Falls Dam continues to meet design standards, which is estimated to support around 250 jobs, and will support the proposed hydro-electric power station; and
    • commissioning a hydro-electric study to assess options for deploying new hydro in the state, including North Queensland.

    National Energy Market

    My Government will not wait for the NEM to be fixed, although that needs to be done.

    My Government will not wait for the findings of the Finkel review to be implemented, although that needs to be done.

    We will get on with the job of attracting more projects, investment and jobs as we strengthen our energy mix.

    Conclusion

    Queensland is Australia’s energy state.

    We need a nationally consistent energy policy and a far more effective national energy market.

    In terms of Canberra, my Government and our State - Australia's energy State - will not be lectured on energy policy, electricity prices or project investments.

    Queensland will not be lectured when the Prime Minister's home state of New South Wales requires almost 4000 gigawatt hours from Queensland to keep their lights on.

    Queensland will not be lectured when the Federal Energy Minister can allow a privatised power station close in his home state of Victoria with no plan, and dramatically increased wholesale electricity prices across the NEM.

    Queensland will not be lectured when none of the $5 billion under the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility has been lent under the three Federal Ministers responsible for Northern Australia - the Victorian, a dual-Italian and a dual-New Zealander.  

    I am reminded in its first 12 months, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation had produced a contracted portfolio of investments totalling over $931 million and catalysed a pipeline of projects worth $3.2 billion - and I acknowledge inaugural CEFC CEO Oliver Yates is here today.

    We will continue to argue for stable Federal policy and leadership, but we will not and cannot wait for it.

    Queensland is at the forefront and that's thanks to the partnership we have forged through our Government, its agencies and our government-owned corporations.

    We will continue to deliver our policy, and will continue to provide stability.

    I thank you for your commitment and your confidence in Queensland.