Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:25): I rise today to speak on a topic which has dominated the
parliament’s time this week and for some months prior to that, and that is electricity. Even though I
have spoken on this topic before in this place, I will go right back to the statewide blackout on
29 September and the difficulty that we all experienced during that time.
In relation to my electorate,
Eyre Peninsula and the West Coast, it was particularly difficult because of the extended period of
time that we were out. We also had the three generators which were contracted to supplement the
power supply into Port Lincoln fail on that occasion and we still have no reasonable answer as to
why that occurred. I do not believe the Treasurer has received an answer to that query either.
Unfortunately, the West Coast has become all too used to power outages. In places like
Elliston and Streaky Bay, it had become a regular occurrence even prior to the 29 September
statewide blackout. In hindsight, I believe Eyre Peninsula had become the canary in the coalmine for
the rest of the state and for the rest of the country. Ironically, on the very day that the smoke stack
at the Port Augusta power station was brought down, which was covered widely in the popular press,
yet another power outage occurred on the West Coast. I suspect the two were unrelated, but the
irony was not lost on the people of Eyre Peninsula.
The story continues, because on 23 December I was in Cowell, in another part of my
electorate, for their Christmas parade. I noticed lightning and a clap of thunder to the north-west. My
worst fears were confirmed when, once again, Streaky Bay and Ceduna lost power, this time for
around 24 hours, in what was the very busiest trading time of the year, midday of the 23rd to midday
of 24 December. You can imagine the irate concerns of people who were preparing for Christmas,
not only businesses but also households. Goodness knows how much Christmas preparation was
upset and how much food was thrown out. I know hotels lost trade and all the rest of it; we have
heard those stories before.
As a result, our leader, Steven Marshall, and I took it upon ourselves to write to the Premier
requesting an urgent meeting with nine Eyre Peninsula mayors from nine district council areas. The
Premier chose not to meet face to face, but at least had a phone hook-up with those mayors and
they were pleased to have that opportunity. The Treasurer took it upon himself to visit Port Lincoln
early in January, which gave all the mayors the opportunity to meet with the Treasurer face to face
and put to him the situation that Eyre Peninsula found itself in.
There is no doubt that the mayors took the opportunity to bring home the unreliability of the
power supply to EP. No doubt the Treasurer was somewhat surprised at that, given the never-ending
nature of the blackouts in our part of the world. I suspect that some of the problem is not just
generation capacity but also the condition of the poles and wires. The ElectraNet and SA Power
Networks transmission lines obviously are not in a condition whereby they can withstand even just a
clap of thunder.
I thank and congratulate the work crews who, often in difficult circumstances when the rest
of the community are enjoying themselves, are out restoring power. For homes and businesses, it is
not just the reliability but also the cost of our power supply which is impacted, so what to do to fix
this? We need:
a single national renewable energy target which encourages investment in generation
and storage technologies that are reliable, affordable and clean;
a well-functioning National Electricity Market which includes a broad generation mix
capable of balancing demand and supply across the market; and
reliable, affordable base load power to supply grid security and price stability, which
could include gas and solar thermal generation along with other renewables capable of
providing dispatchable electricity.
I know on the West Coast of this state, on Eyre Peninsula, we have one of the finest wind resources
in the country if not the world. There needs to be further development and investment in storage and
other enabling technologies to improve the quality of renewable generation already in place, and we
have to enable customers and consumers to manage their own demand levels through deferential
pricing and improved storage and information.