Wide Bay: Energy – Speech in the Federation Chamber 25/05/23
Hansard 25/05/2023 Federation Chamber
Mr LLEW O’BRIEN (Wide Bay) (12:40): Powerlink’s pylon parasites would invade Wide Bay under Palaszczuk’s Labor pumped-hydro-power gamble. If the proposal proceeds, transmission towers of up to 500 kilovolts, up to 70 metres high and comprising 75 metric tonnes of steel atop 20 cubic metres of concrete foundation would be built across more than a hundred private properties between Borumba and Woolooga. Borumba pumped hydro uses old technology to pump water up to higher ground, using intermittent solar and wind so that it can be run through generators later, which causes a net loss of about 30 per cent of power. Pumped hydro will be obsolete in years to come, when we move to the only true zero-emissions fully reliable power source that won’t need invasive transmission lines: nuclear energy.
Powerlink’s proposal has exposed a clear power imbalance between property owners and government-owned energy corporations threatening to compulsorily acquire and access private land. What constitutes social licence when the heavy hand of government owned corporations railroads small communities into having towering monstrosities on land that is loved for its rural amenity? Under Powerlink’s proposal, transmission corridors would be designed around state forests and cut across 129 freehold properties.
So-called green energy does not come without environmental consequences. The privately held forest to be cleared for construction and maintenance of these towers is also a habitat for critically endangered fauna and flora, including the northern quoll, koalas and native guava. Yes, transmission lines get priority. Traveston Crossing dam was cancelled due to the impact on endangered flora and fauna, but now it seems that it’s okay for the state government to trample all over habitat, because it’s for renewable energy transmission lines. The Queensland government says forests such as those under the proposed Powerlink corridor around people’s homes are very important for wildlife conversation, yet the Queensland government’s Powerlink says these trees must be ripped out to plant monstrous transmission towers in their place. In other words, you can’t touch the trees on your property, but the government owned corporation can.
We have yet to see fair financial compensation for those which have significantly depreciated property values in other areas subjected to high-voltage transmission lines, such as HumeLink, Snowy 2.0 and Marinus Link, which have had cost blowouts from the impact of managing endangered species along the construction line. These projects are just the start of the Albanese government’s $80 billion plan to carve more than 27,000 kilometres of new high-voltage transmission lines through our country to link industrial land-intensive solar and wind to the grid. The Queensland government says it has set aside $273 million for pumped hydro projects. Federal Labor says there is money for Borumba, but it won’t tell us how much. We as taxpayers have a right to know how much of our money will be spent.
When it comes to watering Wide Bay’s agriculture to grow food in the Mary Valley and on the Fraser Coast versus water to generate hydroelectricity, who gets priority in a drought—Wide Bay’s crops or Queensland’s power needs? I call on the Queensland government to assure us our farms won’t lose their water supply. This week we discovered that the $18 million Maryborough water security project had been secretly axed. Has Maryborough’s agricultural water allocation been handed over to the hydro? Powerlink’s shocking actions must be stopped before they cobweb our countryside with these high-voltage eyesores.