Queensland is asking for “its fair share” of renewable investment from the Federal government, following the first of a series of bilateral energy agreements Prime Minister Scott Morrison hopes to sign with its state and territory counterparts. In a letter addressed to Morrison, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has requested the Federal government to direct $1 billion for projects that would cut the cost of power bills across the state.
The request comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian last week inked a $2 billion energy deal with Morrison. Interpreted both as a huge win for the fossil fuel industry and an opportunity for the clean energy sector, the deal includes various initiatives, ranging from increasing gas and electricity supply in NSW to improving grid security and supporting emissions reduction projects that deliver genuine abatement.
The deal prompted a reaction from Trad, who requested from Morrison to direct $1 billion of the government’s “underperforming” Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) to Queensland for renewable energy projects.
“I note a significant portion of the federal government’s funding commitment will be through grants, rather than loan arrangements,” Trad said in a letter to Morrison referring to the deal with the NSW government. “The Queensland government is seeking an allocation of funding of $1 billion from the (NAIF), and for it to be provided as a renewable energy grant on the same terms as that provided to the New South Wales.”
While NSW enjoys the favour of the feds in renewables investment, Queensland has so far gone it alone.
— Jackie Trad (@jackietrad) February 3, 2020
But with Morrison insisting on the importance of gas as a “transition fuel”, it will be crucial to see if his upcoming bilateral energy deals with the states will aim to open up more gas reserves. In NSW, the government has committed to facilitate investment opportunities to inject an additional 70 petajoules of gas per year into the east coast market and remove barriers to coal supply to the Mount Piper Power Station. So, getting a renewables-only grant may be harder than it seems.
Another question is whether Queensland would like to get money only for renewables. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said he would push the federal government for recognition of Queensland’s gas production.
“NSW got $3 billion. Us? Nothing,” Lynham said. “Here we have this massive gift to NSW. It’s wrong. We have had nothing for increasing our gas supplies in Queensland… We received no phone calls for the NSW initiative.”