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Transcript 16568

Transcript of Press Conference Liddell Power Station - Liddell

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 17/05/2009

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16568

PM: Well the Australian Government's budget strategy is this: to support jobs, small business and apprenticeships today by investing in the infrastructure Australia needs for tomorrow. And that's what we're here to do. Infrastructure like rail, roads, port, infrastructure like high speed broadband, infrastructure like hospitals, infrastructure like the biggest school modernisation program that Australia has ever seen but infrastructure including the clean energy future Australia needs for our future climate change needs and jobs as well.

What we're here today to talk about is our future infrastructure investment in clean energy. That's part of Australia's future and it is part of jobs and business and investment today. The Australian Government plans to co-invest with industry in the single largest solar power station in the world. By virtue of this investment in the single largest solar power station in the world we will be three times the size of the existing world's largest plant in California and on top of that we'll be producing about 1000 megawatts which puts a plant like this in a similar league to some of the biggest stations generated by alternative and other energy sources.

So let me put this into context. The Government plans to invest with industry in the biggest solar generation plant in the world, three times the size of the world's current biggest, which is in California. Why are we doing this? We are doing it in order to support a clean energy future for Australia, we're doing it to boost economic activity now and we're doing it also to provide jobs and much needed opportunities for business as well.

The way in which this plan will be rolled out is as follows. It's part of the Government's $4.65 billion clean energy initiative; $1.4 billion of which is into solar energy. In the next six months or so the Government will define the tender specifications for industry right across the country. In the first six months of 2010 the Government will nominate successful tenders. Our objective is to co-invest with industry in what will end up being a network of stations across the country. Co-locating as close as possible with the existing electricity grid, locating as best as possible in terms of access to Australia's biggest natural resource - our sunshine. And making sure that we are doing so in an effective and efficient way with business on the way though.

This also will parallel the Government's decision which I am announcing today to become a full member of the International Renewable Energy Agency. International Renewable Energy Agency will have its first global meeting in June; Australia will be a full participant in the first meeting of this agency. What is the Government's mission? Rather than to be solar followers worldwide we intend to be solar leaders worldwide. We don't want to be clean energy followers worldwide, we want to be clean energy leaders worldwide. While we want to be part of the climate change revolution of the future rather than simply being followers at a distance a long way removed on necessary action on climate change. All designed to do this: to support jobs and business. Jobs in the low pollution, non-pollution sector in the economy. Also supporting business activity, supporting contractors right across the country and investing in the sort of energy future we want.

There is one problem along the road and it is this. Today Mr Turnbull and the Liberals indicated that they would not support the $22 billion worth of budget savings that we've announced in the budget. In other words Mr Turnbull still leaves up in the air the Liberal's support for these $22 billion worth of savings. Therefore if Mr Turnbull and the Liberals are going to block $22 billion worth of savings from the budget, it puts at jeopardy funding for the increase in pensions and funding for the investment in this sort of solar energy technology for the future. I find that fundamentally disappointing.

Australia needs a strategy for the future, which supports jobs and investment in business during this global economic recession while at the same time investing in the infrastructure we need for tomorrow. Over to you folks.

JOURNALIST: You said $1.4 billion for solar energy, is that (inaudible)?

PM: Our $1.4 billion solar initiative, our solar flagships project is for up to 1000 megawatts nationwide in locations, which will be determined by competitive tender process. We want to see them as close as possible to the existing electricity grid, we want to see those technologies most competitively deployed and it means also that we also are proving up the ultimate deliverability of large amounts of solar energy into the grid.

What our friends here at Macquarie Energy have done, very intelligently is collocate an eight megawatt station with an existing coal-fired power station. I am advised this is the only place in the world where this is currently done. This is a very good way in which to demonstrate how this sort of energy can complement traditional forms of energy. What we want to do is to co-invest with industry in taking this up at considerable scale right across the country.

What's our ambition? The Australian Government to invest in the world's biggest solar power generating plant, three times bigger than that which currently exists in California because this is a country rich in sunshine.

JOURNALIST: On another issue, have your Ministers been travelling too much? There's been an extremely enormous travel bill.

PM: I notice on that, that Mr Turnbull has himself defended Mr Howard's $20 million overseas travel and I would simply allow that to speak for itself.

JOURNALIST: Do you defend Mr Garrett's $250,000 travel?

PM: I think right across the Government all these things are properly accounted for as is Mr Howard's $20 million of travel himself.

JOURNALIST: Not incessant?

PM: I would say that Mr Howard's $20 million arrangements when he was Prime Minister which have been defended by Mr Turnbull this morning and the benchmark which has been established for the previous Government, we've acted within that.

JOURNALIST: Was it hidden on budget night? (inaudible)

PM: I am advised that these numbers have been released as soon as the bureaucracy has them prepared and I note again that they are consistent in broad measure with Mr Howard's $20 million investment. Mr Howard's $20 million expenditure on his own foreign travel.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well here in the Hunter you have, you have an extraordinary concentration of energy. This is one of the energy capitals of Australia. I am advised this morning some 15 percent of electricity generation in the nation comes from this region. Therefore it is great to see companies like Macquarie Energy taking the very smart decision to co-invest with solar energy and to use that in terms of its ultimate and overall generation into the electricity grid.

What we want to do is learn from the experiences of companies like Macquarie Energy and for the future we want to also ensure that we are doing everything which is logical to expand clean energy generation for the future and create solar energy projects at scale and to do so in the most competitive, transparent process possible.

Okay anything else folks?

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: As I said before there will be multiple locations, possibly four. The location of which will be determined in terms of maximum access to sunlight, maximum proximity to the electricity grid to minimise costs of transmission systems, as well as a number of other technical and design factors as well. We want to make sure that this generation capacity is established across our nation. But 1000 megawatts is a lot. As I said that is three times the size of that which exists in California. We need to be investing in this sort of infrastructure for Australia's clean energy future. That's what's necessary to do.

Transcript 16568