MPI – Climate Change

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (15:46): It is always a great pleasure to follow my good friend the member for Charlton. He has actually added to my extensive education in this place. I did not know what a ‘quisling’ was; I had to look it up. Unfortunately my public school education did not extend to ‘quisling’ so I now have a better understanding of what he is talking about but it is a very small understanding, I must say.

I had to sit through the contribution from the member for Port Adelaide as everyone in the chamber did. He spoke about the Prime Minister paying a high price. Certainly under the Labor policy, the high price that will be paid will be by the people in my electorate in electricity prices because it will drive up electricity prices—there is no doubt about that at all. Labor’s policy will simply drive down jobs as it did previously. I was actually very surprised for him to bring up the smiling assassin, former Premier Peter Beattie, the former Labor premier in Queensland, who was very well known for the things he did in terms of stopping land clearing, particularly on regrowth—you could not clear regrowth or noxious weeds. As a result of that, we lost jobs in the timber industry in places like Eidsvold, Allies Creek and Mundubbera—all in the member for Flynn’s electorate. In Bundaberg, we had two sawmills which are now closed as a result of those policies. They were good hardworking people and I would suggest many of them were members of the AWU. So where were their unions then? They were nowhere to be seen. They were happy to see those people lose their jobs, and I think that was a terrible outcome for those people.

The member for Wills spoke about science based action. I think that was a great contribution actually. I would like to see everything based on science. I think that would be a good position for us to put forward. It is a shame the Labor Party does not agree, because one of their last actions before they went out of government was to close the entire Coral Sea to fishing, almost a million square kilometres, something the size of South Australia. Apparently you cannot fish there any more. It is far too hard. I am absolutely certain there was no science to back that up.

When members opposite talk about renewables needing support, well, that equals subsidise. They are asking for more taxpayers’ money to subsidise this method of generating electricity. If we speak about electricity generation, the most recent report from the national electricity market actually states that we do not need any more generating capacity for at least 10 years under any risk scenario whether it is low, moderate or high. We need no more generating capacity. But if we are to talk about improving emissions—this is an open debate and this should be debated—if we are to talk about zero emissions then we should talk about nuclear technology. If we look at things like the old mobile phone brick that you used to put in your car that cost $4,000 and compare it to a modern phone, technology has moved on. We need to at least look at nuclear as an option.

I would like to note Senator Sean Edwards from the other place and his most recent contribution he put forward in the public arena. He spoke about this modern technology and in particular PRISM reactors from GE. They are a building to burn previously used waste from other nuclear reactors. This is a real opportunity for South Australia as the good senator has put forward. It is capable of reusing spent uranium, as most of the old technology only uses around 96 per cent of the uranium. There is four per cent left which can be burned in modern nuclear reactors. There is more than 240,000 tonnes of spent uranium out in the world which could be used if we actually looked at the technology. What would that do? That would provide the ability for us to keep us keep jobs, jobs for members of the ETU, jobs for members of the metal workers union, jobs for members of the AWU, who are in existing power stations, who work predominantly in rural and regional Australia. The location of most of our power stations is close to a source of coal. You could replace the steam producing elements of those power stations with a nuclear reactor. There are options there and we should look at them. The South Australian royal commission is doing that right now as an option for South Australia. If we are to have an adult conversation in this place, we should consider nuclear energy. This should not be off the table simply because things have moved on. There are opportunities for us and this would certainly be an outcome for the environment because it would go to zero emissions—there are no emissions from nuclear technology—and certainly I think there is the capacity to do that.

Currently in Queensland, in my electorate, the price of electricity is unsustainable. We cannot continue to pay more for power. We have farmers right now in very dry conditions who simply cannot afford to pump. As a nation, we have invested billions of dollars in water infrastructure so that we can irrigate, so that we can have rural water use efficiency. All of those things have been thrown out the window so that we can change the method of generation for power. We now have the situation where we have farmers looking to pump water who cannot because they cannot afford to pay power and, if they do, they have to do it during the day when they have the least efficiency for the water that they are using. It is not a good position to be in.

My final message in the brief time I have left is to the children of this country and the people who might be listening: the east coast of the Australia is not going to fall into the sea. It is a terrible position for them at the moment because that is this exactly what they think will happen and we should stop promoting it.

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