Budget promises $1.88 billion for energy, Qld “left in dark”

Behind the scenes of Budget2019. Image: Josh Frydenberg via Twitter

The Morrison Government has announced $1.88 billion for energy initiatives in the Federal Budget aiming to improve nation-wide reliability and drive down prices, but Queensland ministers have slammed the Budget saying it leaves the state in dark.

The Budget initiatives include:

  • Investing $1.38 billion in Snowy 2.0 to support new renewable energy for Australia’s future energy mix to deliver affordable, reliable power.
  • $56 million for Tasmania’s Marinus Link project – the second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland. Combined with the Battery of the Nation, these projects will help cut power prices and maintain the reliability of the National Electricity Market, create up to 3800 direct and indirect jobs during construction and deliver an economic stimulus of up to $7 billion.
  • $284.4 million for Energy Assistance Payments to age and disability support pensioners, recipients of Carer Payment and Parenting Payment Single, and veterans and their dependants receiving eligible payments from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to help with energy bills – $75 for singles and $125 for couples.
  • $79.2 million over six years for energy efficiency standards and programs to reduce costs for businesses, community groups and households.
  • $50.4 million to support feasibility studies for micro-grids in remote and regional areas, including off-grid and ‘edge of electricity grid’ areas where local distributed generation and demand management is used to ensure supply.
  • $13.5 million to support the Underwriting New Generation Investments program which will increase reliable electricity supply and improve wholesale market competition to reduce wholesale electricity prices and support a roadmap for electricity generation opportunities in North and Central Queensland.
  • $3.2 million to establish a Priority Transmission Taskforce which will speed up delivery of transmission projects identified in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 20-year Integrated System Plan.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement that putting downward pressure on domestic gas prices while ensuring the security of supply remains a priority.

“The Government will back jurisdictions that support gas exploration by investing $8.4 million to accelerate the development of the Beetaloo sub-basin,” the statement reads.

Included in the $79.2 million for energy efficiency standards and programs is the new Energy Efficient Communities Program which will provide $50.0 million in grants to eligible businesses and community organisations, helping them to save energy by either installing new equipment or by reviewing and improving their energy management—all contributing to lower power bills.

Eligible small businesses will be able to claim grants of up to $20,000, high-energy using businesses up to $25,000 and community groups up to $12,500.

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The Queensland Government has responded to the Budget announcement, saying the federal government doesn’t back Queensland.

“‘Back in Black’ the federal government says – but Queensland is still left in the dark,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Queensland’s Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament today that the 2019-20 Federal Budget offered no real energy infrastructure in Queensland to support manufacturing jobs and no support for important water protection measures.

“On energy, there is no infrastructure just a taskforce and feasibility studies —- $13.5 million for the Underwriting New Generation Investments program that was announced last week,” Mr Lynham said.

“This is essentially a feasibility study in the north and the shortlisting of two small projects on the Downs for underwriting.

“Let’s contrast this with the southern states: there’s $1.4 billion for the Snowy 2.0 project in NSW and $56 million for a feasibility study for the Marinus Link interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria.

“The Federal Government committed $3.2 million to establish a taskforce to advance Integrated System Plan projects, which the Energy Security Board is already well placed to advance: simply an unnecessary duplication of resources.

“I would have hoped to have seen some action to lower energy prices and address climate change, through support for the transition to a renewable future, and for real energy infrastructure.”

Dr Lynham said the Budget also failed to respond to Queensland’s requests for Commonwealth support for gas infrastructure.