Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 587 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (11.36): I will speak to Ms Lee’s amendment and close the debate in the absence of any other speakers. I thank Minister Gentleman and colleagues from the ALP backbench for their comments on this matter. There are some important comments to be discussed here. As I outlined in my remarks, there are serious policy discussions here that need good evidence and they need to be worked through in a way that is about providing a stable, secure energy supplier for our community whilst at the same time acting on the very clear scientific advice that has been presented to us on the necessity of taking action.
I was surprised by some of the remarks from Ms Lee in the debate. I would like to think it was a misunderstanding rather than a deliberate misinterpretation of my words, but I am certainly not asserting that climate change is the only cause of bushfires; that is evidently not the case. However, all the modelling from the CSIRO and others that have looked at localised impacts indicates that these things will become more severe, the risk will increase, and the intensity will potentially increase under future scenarios of a hotter and drier climate. Yes, bushfires will be caused by a range of things, but the risk to our city and people in the rural areas of the ACT will be exacerbated by a hotter and drier climate, which is what the modelling predicts. That is the point I was making in my motion.
In terms of the cost issues, I am confused by Ms Lee’s comments in the sense that she said we need to make sure it is not too expensive and that she did not know the answer. But she then went on to cite the cost later in her speech where she said that the cost of the ACT’s 100 per cent target is $290 per annum. That is a known and stated fact. The government has been upfront about it, and it is being offset for many households by the energy efficient improvement schemes which will make commensurate if not greater savings over a sustained period.
We need to be mindful of the fact that there have been significant increases in energy prices in recent years that have not been caused by renewables but by other issues. Ms Lee’s is a very simplistic response, and this is where we need to be more nuanced in how we think about this.
We also need to be mindful of saying that the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, as I touched on in my speech, will push electricity prices up substantially in the absence of a clearly coordinated plan to replace that loss of supply. If the closure of Hazelwood is an issue we have to consider, the question then becomes what we are replacing it with. Again, good economic analysis shows that building these so-called—and I use the word “so-called” very deliberately—clean coal-fired power stations is more expensive than renewables, the cost of renewables has come down so much. In terms of future energy costs, the evidence seems clear.
We have got issues where we need to work on the reliability of the grid. All sorts of different versions have been put around. The cool headed in the debate point to the fact that there are issues in places like South Australia where old systems have not adapted to new energy. We need to work to make the system more reliable in the