Question Time: Renewable Energy

Mr COWDREY (Colton) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister update the house on jobs in renewable energy and the role of the South Australia to New South Wales interconnector?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:08): Thank you to the member for Colton for his question and of course his ongoing keen interest in creating more jobs in South Australia. All members on this side of the chamber are very focused on this and it is interesting to note that South Australia is performing better than other states in that regard. We have actually created an enormous number of jobs in South Australia since coming to office, but specifically with regard to renewable energy and the interconnector.

There are many people who believe that jobs and investment opportunities in renewable energy projects in Australia, and particularly South Australia, are some of the best opportunities that we have for stimulus, for renewable energy, for cheaper electricity and for job creation. That is exactly what we are doing in South Australia.

One of the key projects that we are focused on, as members know, is the interconnector with New South Wales, an incredibly important piece of infrastructure not only with regard to job creation but also with regard to getting the price of electricity down, making electricity more reliable and, of course, cleaner as well. Very interestingly, there will be hundreds of jobs in the construction and also hundreds of jobs in the ongoing operation. Normally, in infrastructure-type projects you see massive jobs during construction and then far fewer in the ongoing operation of that piece of infrastructure. That is not the case with this piece of infrastructure.

Interestingly, AEMO has said that the interconnector between SA and New South Wales is a No Regrets project—very importantly a No Regrets project. In fact, that's how the current opposition described it a few years ago, back in government. It was a very positive project, in their words back then, something that needed to be done, in their words back then and specifically in the words of the shadow minister. Back when he was the minister, he thought it was a very good project.

Now, of course, for some strange reason, the opposition is the only group of people who seem to oppose this project and that's disappointing because that would imply that they don't want the benefits of jobs, of cheaper electricity, of greener, cleaner electricity and more reliable electricity. We are determined to try to make this project work. We are determined to try to get it up, as are many other players in the market, in fact.

It was very interesting to see announced a couple of days ago the ACT government award a clean energy contract to Neoen, the company that wants to build the Goyder South renewable energy project in the electorate of Stuart, very happily, near where this interconnector path will run. The ACT government has contracted to Neoen 100 megawatts of electricity over 14 years to underpin stage 1 of this project, which is a tremendous development. But, isn't it interesting to note that this project and the interconnector are so integrally linked. The Labor ACT government is so supportive of this project, yet the Labor opposition in South Australia remains opposed to it. That is absolutely staggering.

Another interesting feature is the fact that Nexif's energy project stage 1 has been completed. Stage 2 is soon to start at Lincoln Gap near Port Augusta. Stage 3 has been announced as an intention by Nexif. The shadow minister for energy actually tweeted what a fantastic project stage 3 would be. He thinks that would be wonderful if that goes ahead. That support, of course, is welcome. But, interesting to note that that project, stage 3, which the shadow minister and I both support, depends upon the interconnector being built, and yet the shadow minister still opposes the interconnector.

We are determined to deliver jobs through renewable energy projects in South Australia and it is about time that the opposition got on board and supported our constructive and productive energy policies.