THE stark difference between Upper House members for Denmark and Albany on energy policy was brought into sharp relief during a debate in State Parliament on April 11.
In response to a motion by South West MLC Steve Thomas that, among other matters, the Government outline how it plans to manage maintenance and lifespan issues facing coal-fired electricity generation units in Collie, his counterpart MLCs Colin Tincknell, Sally Talbot and Diane Evers all chimed in.
Dr Thomas also asked how those plans would deliver a reliable base load of electricity to the south west integrated system, and what role Government commitments to Albany’s doomed wave energy plant and a solar and biomass farm in Collie would play.
“Unfortunately, I have only 20 minutes to debate the energy systems of Western Australia, because if there were a more open time-frame I might give Hon Nick Goiran a run for his money,” Dr Thomas said in a none-too-veiled reference to filibustering by his Liberal Party colleague earlier in the week.
In response to a 3400-word speech from Dr Thomas that followed, One Nation MLC for South West Colin Tincknell argued the major parties should work together on energy policy.
“The tired old parties just keep blaming each other and the problem does not get solved,” he said.
“I believe that the Carnegie wave energy project was doomed right from the start.”
Incensed with proceedings, Labor MLC for South West Sally Talbot slammed Dr Thomas for daring to raise plans and policies for Collie.
“I do not think Hon Dr Steve Thomas is a bad man,” she began.
“I work with him well in our electorate.
“However, it is shameful for Hon Dr Steve Thomas to come in here today and move a motion that talks about plans and policies for the town of Collie.”
Dr Talbot said the only way she could find to exonerate Dr Thomas was that he was not an MP during the eight and a half years when his Liberal colleagues “wrecked this state’s economy”.
“Right at the middle of that wreckage, smoking in the ruins of what those people left behind, was the Shire of Collie,” she said.
Last, but not least vocal, of the South West Members was GreensWA MLC Diane Evers who lives between Denmark and Albany.
“I appreciate getting the call on this motion, because I have been getting very annoyed over this issue,” she said.
“I take offence at the idea that we should continue to provide base load through coal while we wait for the transition to renewables to happen.
“That is what has happened for the past 10 years.”
Ms Evers said Parliamentarians had been waiting and waiting, while the world changed around them.
“Wind towers were built in Albany in 2004 or 2005,” she said.
“Prior to that, we had blackouts once or twice a day.
“Since those wind towers have gone in, that no longer happens.”
She said Albany was on the edge of the electricity system but was now getting good, reliable power with only one or two blackouts a year.
Not long after, Dr Thomas’ motion lapsed.
The electoral region represented by the South West MLCs takes in the Great Southern municipalities of Denmark and Albany and the entire Southwest geographic region.