Key infrastructure needed in Queensland energy sector

We need to look forward to the next 30 years and put in place key infrastructure in the energy sector, Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark AcArdle has told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

We need to look forward to the next 30 years and put in place key infrastructure in the energy sector, Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark McArdle has told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

He said the rate of change occurring in the sector poses major issues for policy makers and the structure of the energy market is vastly different to what it was a decade ago.

This transformation will accelerate over the next 10 to 30 years and is being driven by consumer expectations, he said.

With 260,000 homes across the State with solar PVs on their rooves, it is important the State Government looks at transformational technology when looking to deliver greater outcomes and greater efficiencies across the network system, he said.

"It's not just the Government that must provide leadership, in my opinion leadership comes from a partnership with industry…and all levels of government must work closely with consumers," he said.

"The transformation of the sector is about providing certainty to industry, certainty about a collective vision, certainty of policy direction, certainty of investment, certainty for business, planning and growth going forward.

"It is about ensuring the long term future of a sustainable energy sector that meets the competing demands of different players.

"But this government has a commitment to ensure that we deliver sustainable energy reforms on a long term basis, in conjunction with the public and private sector."

On the issue of consumer engagement, he said consumers have not been ignored but they have not been embraced as widely as they should be in relation to energy and water.

On privatisation, Mr McArdle said he is aware people are against the sale of assets, and they don't want to relinquish an asset to pay a debt.

He said the debate must be had in Queensland in one way or another and the two points that need to be debated are:

  • The Queensland Government either keeps the assets and makes them more efficient; or
  • Sells the assets after making them efficient.

"There are those who may not agree with assets not being sold, (but) the assets are owned by the people of this State and it is most important given the history of asset sales that those assets be sold, and if that is the case (it must be) upon the consent and will of the people of Queensland," he said.

"I believe there are efficiencies that can be made in relation to these assets and also there are efficiencies that can be made in delivering services."

Federal Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources, Ian Macfarlane said Queensland has shown the way in a lot of areas but still has some distance to go when it comes to energy market reform particularly industry privatisation of the electricity industry in Queensland.

He said we have to progress energy market reform in this state and have to progress it nationally.

There is no point in trying to run an industry that business run successfully in other states, he said.

Mr Macfarlane said when looking at the energy sector, you need to have regulation together with reform for good policy.

He said in Queensland 98 per cent of gas consumed in Brisbane is coal seam gas and 31,000 people are employed in the industry.

"We are facing major issues in the gas industry particularly on east coast of Australia, reservation isn't the answer," he said.

"We do need a transparent process. We need buyers to be able to see the full trading process that is going on."

He said we need to ensure industry is part of the process and there is a need for an interface between industry and the ministers who make the decisions in terms of overall policy.

"We will abolish the carbon tax, abolish the mining tax, and make sure there is better consultation and better information, most importantly we will abolish the two processes of environmental approval," he said.

"While the states are doing it more practically, the Commonwealth has a process that can take up to four years and we don't want an adversarial process.

"The Coalition will put in place a one stop shop on environmental approval…where we delegate our processes to the states, still have the same conditions, we are not lowing standards, and we will get this down to a process that is 12 months rather than four years.

"We will restore the balance to the budget and restore confidence to the industry and the business sector to invest here and make profits."