Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP corners the Morrison Government on gas-led projects

27 August, 2020

My question is to the Prime Minister. Investments in clean technologies deliver more than twice the number of jobs as the same investment in coal or gas. With unemployment hitting record highs, if the government is serious about delivering jobs and futureproofing the economy then it will commit to a clean recovery, as the EU, the UK, Germany and South Korea, to name but a few, have done. Will your government implement a transparent and economic merit based assessment of projects and prioritise jobs and Australia's future over support for gas and coal projects?

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:22): I thank the member for her question. I'll ask the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction to add further to my answer, but let me simply say this: the investment in renewable energy technology in Australia has been at record levels and will continue to be at record levels. Such has been the significant investment in renewable energy technologies in Australia, particularly those in the intermittent form with solar and wind. The great advantage of projects that are using gas, as well as pumped hydro, which the government is making record investments in through Snowy Hydro 2.0, is that they firm and reinforce the efficacy of the renewable energies that are being supported into the system. So, far from being something that takes away from a renewable future in our energy sector, the investments in gas and gas technology, as well as the pumped hydro technologies that the government is so supportive of, are actually accelerating, reinforcing and supporting those very renewable energy technologies, and that's reflected in our technology road map. I'll ask the energy minister to add further to my answer.

Mr TAYLOR (HumeMinister for Energy and Emissions Reduction) (14:24): I am thankful for and graciously appreciative of the opportunity to answer this question, because it is a very important one. The truth of the matter is that, if you want jobs in manufacturing in this country, you need reliable, affordable gas and electricity. That is the key. We know that there's enormous opportunity for creating jobs in manufacturing in this country, but gas is one of the crucial feedstocks to do that. We need balance in our energy system, and we know, as the Prime Minister said, we are seeing record levels of investment in renewables—6.3 gigawatts of renewable investment last year. That's $9 billion. The Clean Energy Regulator says that we expect to see a similar amount this year. But it needs to be backed up, and it needs to be backed up with dispatchable generation and storage. Snowy 2.0 is a good example of that—two gigawatts of pumped hydro—but we also need, in that mix, gas. Indeed, the Chief Scientist has made this point. I'll read from his comments: 'Gas is effectively the perfect complement to solar and wind.' If we want job creation coming out of COVID-19, we need affordable, reliable energy. We need affordable, reliable gas.