Energy to dominate debate as Tasmanian Parliament returns

Tasmanian Energy Minister Matthew Groom
Tasmanian Energy Minister Matthew Groom

The Tasmanian Government is expected to face questions about the state’s ongoing energy challenges as the House of Assembly sits for the first time since June.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein and Energy Minister Matthew Groom will front the inquiry at the end of the month after pulling out of an earlier scheduled appearance.

Labor intends to press the Government on the testimony from major industrials to the committee.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said he would continue to push for more information about Treasury advice on the sale of the Tamar Valley Power Station.

“We will be chasing the documentation from the Treasurer that allows the Tasmanian people to understand why the decision was made to sell the Tamar Valley Power Station in the middle of the drought,” he said.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said energy was also a focus for her party. She said there will be questions about the energy inquiry and Hydro cloud seeding, despite analysis a cloud-seeding flight did not have a measurable ­impact on floods in July.

Yesterday, Hydro Tasmania hit back at criticism after the government-owned business was criticised in a recent hearing by industrial users and the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline.

Mr Davy told the Public Accounts Committee that Bell Bay Aliminium general manager Ray Mostogl’s evidence the state’s energy businesses had been ineffective in recent years was “odd”.

Hydro twice assisted BBA in recent years, Mr Davy said, by renegotiating a contract in 2012 and by exempting the company from the Renewable Energy Target last year.

“Despite all the support from state owned energy businesses, aluminium businesses in Australia struggle,” Mr Davy said, as reported by The Examiner.

“That is caused by international markets, not about a lack of understanding of, or support for, these businesses.”

Mr Davy also questioned Mr Mostogl’s evidence he had only found out about a plan to decommission the Tamar Valley Power Station’s combined cycle unit in the newspaper.

He said the company had ample opportunities to discuss the plan with Hydro following Energy Minister Matthew Groom announcing the government would explore the unit’s dismantling and sale during government business enterprise scrutiny in December 2014.