Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (14:17): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister advise the house of support, or otherwise, for the proposed interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales? With your leave and that of the house, sir, I will explain.
...Can the minister advise the house of support, or otherwise, for the proposed interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales, and with your leave and that of the house I will explain.
Mr TRELOAR: On 24 January this year, the member for West Torrens said on ABC radio:
Storage is the key here. If we have storage and we can be self-sufficient, I have no problem with the interconnection.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (14:19): I will put aside the silliness of wanting to be self-sufficient and have an interconnector. I will put that aside for a second and concentrate on a couple of other things. We know the federal Liberal Party, the federal Labor Party, the Climate Council, the Clean Energy Council and many others support the Marshall Liberal government's policy of interconnection with New South Wales.
We know that the member for Lee has stated that the opposition in South Australia believe that it is a terrible idea. They are the only ones out in the cold. We also know that the Labor opposition supported the interconnector in 2016 before the then Liberal opposition made it part of our energy policy in 2017. Then the SA Labor Party flipped its position to oppose the interconnector leading up to the last state election for purely base political reasons.
This should be no surprise because the SA opposition consistently have put politics over the effective operation of the energy system on behalf of all South Australians.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order.
The SPEAKER: The Minister for Energy and Mining will resume his seat.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for West Torrens is entitled to be heard in silence. The member for West Torrens rises on a point of order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: That was debate, sir: the minister talking about the opposition's view on matters has been previously ruled by Speakers before you as a matter of debate.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I'm not asking you; I'm asking the Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Order, members on my left and members on my right! I am listening carefully to the Minister for Energy and Mining's answer. The Minister for Energy and Mining's answer is not contravening the standing order for the time being. I am listening carefully.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: Well, talk more about us, then, because it's not contravening anything.
The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens is warned for a second time. Questions and answers in the course of question time will be heard in silence. The Minister for Energy and Mining has the call.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Thank you very much, Speaker. The question was about support or otherwise for the interconnector. I have talked about the Climate Council, I have talked about the federal government and the federal opposition. Interestingly, the state Labor opposition provide us support and otherwise, so I think they are quite relevant to this situation. They supported it in 2016, didn't support it in 2017, then in January this year the member for West Torrens supported it again so long as it was accompanied by storage.
We've got news for the member for West Torrens: we have storage in South Australia and we have more in the pipeline. We have the largest per capita uptake of household storage in the world. We have 20,000 household batteries installed, or soon to be installed, driven primarily by our Home Battery Scheme. We have four grid-scale batteries operating and more on the way, including AGL's proposed battery at Torrens Island and, interestingly, Neoen is proposing a 900-megawatt battery near Burra, which is actually dependent upon the interconnector. So, yes, a battery that needs the interconnector as well as an interconnector that needs batteries.
This is beyond those opposite. They flip-flop back and forth, but we will not be deterred. We have massively more storage in South Australia, so the opposition must now support the interconnector. But, no, the member for Lee said only last week they still don't support it. They still think it is a bad idea.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order, sir: surely this is debate now, sir.
The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will resume his seat. The member for West Torrens on a point of order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: There's been a longstanding practice in this house: talking about the views and positions of the opposition is debate in question time. It has been ruled often, sir—indeed, even with points of order from the Manager of Government Business.
The Hon. J.A.W. Gardner interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order, Minister for Education! The point of order is raised under standing order 98. I remind the minister that the minister will address the substance of the question. The minister is addressing the substance of the question. The minister has the call.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Thank you, sir. Yes, substance is support for the interconnector. The member for Lee says they do not support it now. Instead, the member for Lee suggested on radio last week that we should spend $1.5 billion gold plating the distribution network, which won't save consumers a cent, and I quote—
The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will resume his seat. The member for Lee will leave for 30 minutes under 137A.
The honourable member for Lee having withdrawn from the chamber:
Mr Brown interjecting:
The SPEAKER: The member for Playford is warned for a second time.
The Hon. A. Piccolo interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order, member for Light!
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: From the member for Lee, I quote: 'Why don't we spend $1.5 billion upgrading our 1980s Stobie pole transmission and distribution system?' An astounding statement, I would have to say. Is this a case of incessant flip-flopping or a question of weak leadership? This would be hardly surprising given their dreadful performance on energy while in government, lessons that they clearly have not learnt. For the member for Lee's information, it is not SA Power Networks: it is actually ElectraNet that is the proponent of this project. The opposition is a mess on energy policy. They should stop their flip-flopping and support this nation-building project.
The SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order, sir.
The SPEAKER: The member for West Torrens on a point of order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: The minister said 'and I quote' and read from a document that was pre-prepared. I would ask him to table it.
An honourable member: No.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: No? Oh.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: Mr Speaker, I am happy to show you the document, which is actually my notes to refer to. I think I represented the member very fairly. I would be more than happy to show you all the information that supports it and, if you think that there is anything inappropriate that I have done, you let me know.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Point of order, sir.
The SPEAKER: On the point of order, the member for West Torrens.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: It is not about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the statement: it is that the minister was quoting from a document.
The Hon. V.A. Chapman interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Premier will cease interjecting.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: The minister said 'I quote' and then read out a portion of a transcript or a document that he was quoting from. It is practice that he table everything he was reading from.
The SPEAKER: I have the point of order. The minister has offered to provide to me documents that he might have been referring to in the course of his answer. I am willing to receive and consider those, so I will do that. I think the minister has concluded his answer. The member for West Torrens is seeking the call.
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