Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (18:54): It gives me great pleasure to make a contribution to the private member's motion from the member for Dawson. I'm going to outline what the motion speaks to. There are five parts to it. The first talks about the long-term global predictions for coal usage and how that fits in with baseload power and what the alternate energies look like. The second talks about the record-high electricity prices in Queensland in January 2017 at around $14,000 a megawatt hour and the effect of that. The third speaks about the high cost of electricity in North Queensland and the effect that has had on business investment and sentiment. The fourth says that Australia has an abundance of high-quality coal. The fifth says that Australia should utilise its natural advantage.
It would be right for anyone to ask: why would a member from South-East Queensland whose electorate has no power stations and no coalmines have an interest in coal? I'm not on the coast, so I'm not a protector of the Barrier Reef, as such. But my electorate of Wright has the largest take-up in the country of solar power on constituents' roofs. I suggest that they are not installing solar panels on their roofs because they are large supporters of the green movement. To the contrary, they have them on their roofs because they are very close to being able to make ends meet and it's a way of trying to bring down pressures on the household.
I want to go to the issues in this motion that talk about North Queensland. In Queensland we all pay the same price per watt for electricity. There's a service obligation. Whether you're in Cairns or on the Gold Coast, everyone pays the same kilowatt an hour, except if you are a business and the further you are away from the power station, the more you pay. That is the part of this private member's motion that I want to speak to. I'd love to be part of an LNP state team that lobbies this government to look at some of the new HELE power station technology and set that up further to the north. Our government has an agenda to build and develop northern Australia. I remember a small community that was built some 70 years ago, and it really kicked it. It is called Gladstone. We dropped in a couple of power stations there and that place took off. Power stations need power and they need fresh water. The government has already committed to dams in Northern Queensland and northern Australia and it has given that commitment to the state government, pending their approvals of those dams.
If we could take some of the baseload demand off the south-east corner by building some power stations, or at least one, and get the ball rolling in the north, the key would be high-efficiency, low-emission technology. We've got the coal up there. We've got the natural resources. We've got a labour force. We have Collinsville, Moranbah, Tieri and Middlemount—all places where you could buy the entire street for a tuppence if you were looking for cheap real estate. These are towns and communities that have flourished off the back of 150 years of a resources sector boom, and I don't think we'll see that again.
Coal continues to be the backbone of global electricity production and it makes up about 40 per cent of global electricity input. The coal industry in Australia is the second-largest export earner and was valued at around $40 million last year, with coalmining contributing 1.2 per cent of Australia's GDP. Coal is a major driver of economic activity and job creation. Around 44,000 people are employed in coalmining, with the mining sector as a whole employing around 228,000. If I do have coalminers, they are fly in, fly out. The biggest contributor to GDP in my electorate is agriculture, without a doubt. But if we can build a power station, a HELE coal-fired power station, it would provide energy security for my electorate into the future. I commend the motion to the House.
Video of speech: https://youtu.be/P6srhm4_8BE