18 October 2023
In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15 June 2023):
My question to the Attorney-General therefore is:
Did the Attorney-General receive any representations from the Minister for Energy and Mining on behalf of Santos or any organisation involved in the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference regarding potential amendments to the Summary Offences Act, and what does the government have in mind when it talks about 'offering to help' the gas industry?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Energy and Mining has advised:
He did address a conference of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) in Adelaide in May this year and that he is aware of a report in The Guardian about his comments.
The minister advises that he told the APPEA conference that the government of South Australia is committed to decarbonising the economy as soon and as efficiently as possible.
The minister spoke of this state's leading role in the energy transition including:
- Achieving more than 70 per cent of electricity generation from renewable sources, a world-first for a grid of more than one gigawatt without hydroelectricity.
- Pioneering grid-scale batteries.
- Investing $593 million in the Hydrogen Jobs Plan.
The minister spoke of hydrogen and its trajectory to deliver multiple benefits—creating value for excess renewably generated electricity; long duration firming to facilitate more investment in renewables; and decarbonising hard-to-abate heavy industries.
Hydrogen is the only known, commercially viable alternative to using coal to transform iron ore and the most prospective alternative to natural gas in cement manufacture. We face a choice between continuing to pollute the world, ceasing production of steel and cement, or employing hydrogen.
The minister advises that the Malinauskas government will not accept either of the first two options. We must stop pollution, but we cannot condemn future generations—including billions of people in developing countries—to enduring and worsening poverty because they cannot build homes and cities of cement and steel. That is why this government has chosen to develop a hydrogen industry.
That industry will depend on people who have the skills and experience of workers in the petroleum sector. That was the minister's message to the APPEA delegates: We cannot decarbonise the economy without them. Indeed, the theme of the APPEA conference was 'Lead, Shape, Innovate—Accelerating to Net Zero'.
As representative of the host jurisdiction, the minister told delegates that the Department for Energy and Mining was available to help them hold a successful conference. Unfortunately, those quite ordinary words from a host city were interpreted as an open invitation for the unbridled exploitation of the state. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Unfortunately, not only was that misleading report published but the honourable member has repeated it in this place.