HON ROBIN CHAPPLE(Mining and Pastoral)[3.14 pm]: In responding to His Excellency Malcolm McCusker’s speech on the opening of the first session of the thirty-ninth Parliament on Thursday, 11 April, I wish to congratulate you, Mr President, on your re-election.

I also take this opportunity to welcome new members to the house and welcome back old members. It is good to see them back here, although there are fewer on my side.

The PRESIDENT: Long-serving members.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: I will touch on a number of matters that His Excellency Malcolm McCusker addressed in his speech, but, first, I would like to mention some things that happened to me in the few months leading up to the state election. I thank the Greens candidates in the Mining and Pastoral Region who supported me and the Greens political party. I identify Chris Maher, the Greens Kimberley candidate, who attained an incredible 23.5 per cent of the vote, the highest ever Greens vote in Western Australia when in competition with the three major parties. At Broome Primary School the Greens attained 45 per cent of the vote; at Broome Senior High School, 38 per cent; and at Cable Beach, 38 per cent. A clear message came about of Broome about the James Price Point development.

I thank Tim Hall, the Greens candidate for the seat of Kalgoorlie. In Kalgoorlie, I also thank an organisation called Dads And Mums Against Green Extremists. DAMAGE was set up specifically to target the Greens, but in fact it helped to retain our vote by focusing on the Greens and identifying some of the issues it stands for. Many years ago former federal member of Parliament Michael Beahan told me that if your opposition is invisible, the worst thing you can do is identify them. Until the establishment of DAMAGE, the Greens to a large degree had been invisible in the Kalgoorlie media. But in the last two to three weeks of the election, the Greens were front and centre in the media and retained its vote. Michael Beahan’s point was that if somebody is not grabbing the attention, do not highlight them, but DAMAGE did exactly that. It ran repeated advertisements in the Kalgoorlie Miner, which stated —

Ever wondered why there’s virtually no

mining in Victoria or Tasmania?

It’s certainly got nothing to do with a lack of minerals!

It’s because the Greens have made it TOO HARD

and most mining companies have simply moved elsewhere

That’s why WA loses most of our GST revenue

It goes to prop up the anti-mining states

It also explains why Tasmania is now such an economic basket case

with double our unemployment rates

especially amongst the young

That’s why so many young Tasmanians are in Kalgoorlie

But WA is catching up fast

Drilling to explore for new deposits fell 28% last year

The Greens are making it too hard in WA as well

which is why many mining companies are going elsewhere

Coming from the mining industry and knowing that I do not have any power in this place, I wonder what level of influence the Greens or indeed I have in forcing mining companies to go elsewhere. I am sure that when I finish in this place, I will probably go back to the mining industry, which is where I came from.

It went on to state —

This doesn’t affect the mining companies much

but it does affect the rest of us left behind

because the mining companies create jobs overseas

instead of here in WA

That’s why you should

Vote the Greens LAST

If you live and work in the Goldfields

the Greens are your biggest enemy

Vote the Greens LAST

The advertisement identified a number of people involved in DAMAGE, Dads And Mums Against Green Extremists. As members may know, eventually all emails and correspondence pertaining to that group became public. I will not list all the names on those emails, but significant donations came from a range of people, and, suffice to say, some people within the ranks of DAMAGE considered it was not having enough of a damaging effect upon the Greens. Therefore, they went outside the organisation and released a series of emails.

It is important to note, when dealing with that matter, that it would be really useful to identify what the state of Tasmania is. We have had it on sort of good authority that there is no mining in Tasmania and the mining industry is declining. I will refer to the annual review—the Mineral Resources Tasmania document. But, before I get to that, I would like to point out that the United Tasmania Group—the Greens—was formed in 1972. Since then there has been a 15-fold increase in mining in Tasmania. In 2008–09, the Tasmanian economy derived $1.372 billion from mining, which was an increase of some $200 million over the previous year, and since 2001, it was an increase of something like three times the economic return from mining. Quite clearly, the statements contained within the DAMAGE document were fallacious in the extreme. The mineral production values in the document identified the achievements against strategies in 2010–11. Mineral exploration expenditure continued to grow strongly in 2010–11. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mineral exploration in Tasmania for the 2010–11 financial year was valued at $37.3 million, which was up 80 per cent on the $20.7 million in the previous year. Over this period, Tasmania’s share of national expenditure increased from 0.93 per cent to 1.26 per cent, which was the highest rate of increase of any state or jurisdiction. Spending on exploration for new deposits increased from $13.5 million to $17 million, while exploration on existing deposits increased substantially from $7.2 million to $20.3 million for the corresponding year.

I go back to the original statement made by DAMAGE in which it was really concerned that this state’s exploration had dropped by 28 per cent. I just want to point out the fundamental mistruth in the document that appeared several times in the Kalgoorlie Miner.However, having said that, I go on to thank wholeheartedly the group DAMAGE for getting me re-elected.

Moving on, across the electorate, I want to thank Julie Matheson, our candidate in the Pilbara; Des Pike in North West Central; Giorgia Johnson in Eyre; and my colleague Kado Muir, who stood as the number 2 on the Mining and Pastoral Region ticket. In the election, we maintained our primary vote throughout the Mining and Pastoral Region against the statewide three per cent drop in the Greens’ Legislative Council primary vote. The Kalgoorlie and Eyre subregions had smaller swings away than did Pilbara and North West Central. I would also like to thank Kim Dravnieks, my campaign manager; my daughter, Sara, who lives and works for the mining industry in Kalgoorlie; and Carmel Leahy, who ran the Kimberley campaign.

It is an opportunity for me to also touch on the support that I have received in the period from 2009 to 2013. I wish to thank Helen Beech, who joined me initially; Tim Hall; Annemarie Hindinger, who was a volunteer; David Jones, who was a volunteer and is now a member of the permanent staff; Maria Mann; Kate Davis; Melanie Bainbridge; and Cameron Poustie, our research officer for all of that period for all the members. I just wanted to put it on record that I thank and support those people.

It is also an opportunity for me to comment on the sad loss of my colleagues Giz Watson and Alison Xamon. I think mention has already been made of the work that Giz did as chair on a number of committees. In general, the house will miss the level of competency that she brought to that committee process.

A situation occurred during the election; it was on one of the nights of the count. Unfortunately, my foster child, Martin Tigan, fell to the scourge of the Kimberley and committed suicide. Hon Sally Talbot, who was at the counting house, comforted me and looked after me during a time of extreme stress and remorse.

I would now like to pay a little tribute to Martin Tigan. Martin was the son of Aubrey and Rosa Tigan, two Mayala people. Martin was born deaf, and as a result became a deaf-mute. At the age of five, the evidence became apparent to the people in the community and to Martin and Rosa. Martin came down to the Lucy Creeth Hospital Nursing Home in Cottesloe, where my partner at the time, Anna, was working. Through that process, we fostered Martin during his schooling period and during his rehabilitation and learning. Unfortunately, Martin never really got to have any proper verbal communication, but he learnt Auslan really well and was very good at integrating in all things around him. I never—this is the most surprising thing—saw Martin unhappy, even as a child, or in later life when I met him again. About two years ago I was invited to Aubrey’s house, and there was a sort of function in the garden where a number of chairs were placed. Aubrey brought the family out, and I sat on a chair along with the rest of the family. This young man, who was then 40 years of age, sat next to me, and I did not realise it was Martin. In the last couple of years I learnt to reconnect with him, and even during that time I never saw him be anything other than happy and smiling.

After Martin passed away on 14 March, it became apparent that he had attempted suicide a number of times. Because of his condition, being deaf and mute, only the people who had an immediate relationship with him became aware of those issues, and a number of people set out to look after him in those situations. Unfortunately, no system was able to provide the sort of day-to-day support needed for someone who was deaf and mute and who had had suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, the two people who had been spending time assisting Martin and looking after him were not in town on the day on which he eventually took his life. Now that Hon Sally Talbot is back in the chamber, again I would like to thank Sally for her help during that time. I went to Lombadina and assisted with the funeral. There is a really almost a macabre, bizarre element to this. As I said, Martin was always a joker—and guess what? When they came to put him in the ground, they had not dug the grave long enough to accept his body. All the community there saw the joke; it was really quite funny. This was Martin’s last hurrah: “You’re not putting me in the bloody ground!” Excuse my expression, Mr President. It is a very sad time of my life. Unfortunately, my partner, Anna, had already passed away and did not get to meet Martin once I had reconnected with him. I thought it was important to just put that on record.

Suicide is not just an issue in the state but also an incredibly debilitating, destructive situation that is occurring in the Kimberley and it occurs time and again. I really think that we need to do more in relation to suicide in the Kimberley than just this broad $13 million approach to suicide prevention across the state. We need that sort of funding in the Kimberley region to assist with suicide prevention. Having said that, I was recently confronted with a suicide in Roebourne. Do members know what the Roebourne people said? They said, “The Kimberley disease has made it down to the Pilbara.” That is what they see it as. I am not being critical of the minister, but I urge the minister to try her hardest to go get the sort of funding that we have heard about, the $13 million, and put it into the Kimberley and the Kimberley alone. That is where it is needed.

Moving on, I suppose if that was a lowlight, I go to a highlight. I had the honour of attending the Indigenous protected areas ceremony at well 6 on the Canning Stock Route, which is north of Wiluna. It was very pleasing to see Mr Wyatt from the other house in attendance, along with my federal colleague Rachel Siewert and a former member of this place and a representative of federal Labor, Louise Pratt, who was there to facilitate the ceremony. It was a really moving occasion insomuch as it was great to see 1 000-odd people back out on country and young men who were going through the whole Wiluna issue of alcohol, a lack of responsibility or feeling of being, actually back out on country under a ranger program and to see the excitement, enthusiasm and passion with which they addressed the jobs that they had been given. Another ranger program involving the Martu people runs from Kiwirrkurra, Parnngurr,Punmu, down past Jigalong, and through the Canning Stock Route. Now this new ranger program under the IPA will move from Wiluna up the Canning Stock Route to meet the other ranger program.

We spent three days out there. I was very privileged to go out with some of the men and, as a part-time archaeologist, as some members may know, visit some of the paintings and carvings in the Carnarvon Range. It was really useful and really good to see that the four-wheel drive community was also at the ceremony. It was working with the mob in putting forward programs to upkeep, maintain and assist in the maintenance and future of the Canning Stock Route. The Indigenous protected area in no way inhibits development; it does not impede mining development and it creates no impediment to any other form of development. In fact, it puts the Martu back in charge of the area. There are areas in the Carnarvon Range that are very, very important. I understand that Birriliburu, which is the group, is negotiating to make sure that certain areas of heritage and cultural value are not impacted in that area. So my hat is taken off well and truly to the work that the Central Desert land council did in getting this project up and running. It is a marvellous project. It is about people back on country, it is about self-esteem and it is about stopping the rot in places such as Wiluna. A lot can be learnt from these sorts of projects and the way in which Indigenous people really come to fruition as individuals in the process of working back on country and doing the right thing by country.

Touching on that same area, not far from there is again an issue that is pertinent for me—namely, the Toro Energy uranium mine at Wiluna. I have met with a number of people involved with the project and I have met with the company at different times. I really want to try to give a technical explanation. Quite often we are told that uranium is radioactive. It has this issue quite often of impacting people through its radioactivity. Uranium produces alpha, beta and gamma; they are the three radioactive components. Very seldom do people experience the problems of radon, but in an open-cut pit or in an underground working, people can be exposed to beta or gamma. It is never usually enough to do them any particular harm. I seem to have defeated my own argument here, but the problem with uranium mining is not beta or gamma; it is alpha. If I had a lump of uranium in my hand—I am licensed to hold uranium—it would not harm anyone in this room and it would not harm me. I could put it in my pocket and it would not harm me, because the level of radioactivity is not high enough to do me any damage. It is only when I enhance it into fissionable material that it changes its component. The problem is that it creates alpha. Alpha is a very, very low level radiation. The skin’s epidermis or a piece of paper or plastic is enough to stop alpha radiation. But the problem with alpha radiation is that it is part of radon and is contained within any dust samples associated with that nuclear material. Any material inhaled—either the host rock or the uranium itself—that is under 0.25 parts per million that enters the alveoli of the lung will create a macrophage, which, sometime in the region of 15 years to 20 years, will have the potential to lead to cancer in exactly the same way as crocidolite, or blue asbestos, does.

In 1999 I went to the tenth annual Indigenous Environmental Network conference in the United States. While there, on 1 June I had the unique opportunity to listen to the fate of both the Dineh Navajo and the Dene of Great Bear Lake, Canada. The participants came from South America, Mexico, Australia, the Philippines and Alaska, and there were representatives from the Shoshone, the Lakota Sioux, the Tesuque Pueblo, Navajo and the Hualapai, and many other Indian nations were represented. I imagine there to have been somewhere in the region of about 15 000 to 20 000 people on the top of Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque. The conference focused on the effect of uranium and nuclear issues on Indigenous communities, and the support for the Dineh people’s fight against uranium mining at Crownpoint and Church Rock.

I had the honour of meeting a woman called Dorothy Purley at that conference, and I will quote some of her comments from the conference. For 10 years, Dorothy drove a truck and worked as an ore crusher at Jackpile mine in Laguna Pueblo. Dorothy miscarried three children, her brother had cancer and had passed away, and other family members were victims of leukaemia and diabetes and were on dialysis. She said, “So many have died; most of the people I worked with at the mine are gone. There are children who will never know their fathers.” Purley, who was crying at this time, said, “Look at me; some of my friends don’t even recognise me. But I thank the good Lord, and Mother Earth, who is helping me stand on her”; shortly after the conference, Dorothy, unfortunately, passed away from cancer associated with working at Jackpile mine. She went on to say, “Uranium mining has desecrated not only our earth, but our traditional cultural lifestyles. It has desecrated the lives of our Navajo, Dineh, Acoma and Laguna peoples.”

It is also interesting to note that at the same time I met people again from a tribal nation called Dene—spelt slightly differently—from Great Bear Lake in Canada. They were dealing with the issue of no longer having any males in the community because after the 15 years or 20 years most had passed away; that tribe was importing males into the community to teach the dynamics of relationships with males.

Toro Energy’s mine will be operating in a very dry, arid and dusty environment not far from Wiluna. It is the only project on the shortlist at moment, but I am led to believe, having read the documentation, that that project may not even get off the ground. The price of uranium fell below $40 a pound for the first time since 2009, and is now at $39.87 a pound. Despite industry claims that the demand for uranium would increase, prices have not pushed through the $45 mark since December last year. According to the Mining Australia website —

The West Australian reported low uranium prices is causing concern on local uranium juniors such as Toro Energy who are in the bid for partners to help fund the $269 million Wiluna project.

Interestingly, my federal colleague, Senator Scott Ludlum, commissioned Economists at Large, an economic think-tank, to prepare a report on the economics of the Toro project. According to report, it is pertinent to note that —

… the net present value (NPV) of $A 34Mn, however, this does not include any closure costs for the project. There has been no official closure cost estimate submitted by Toro Energy that we are aware of.

We conducted an NPV sensitivity analysis and concluded that:

·          Adding a closure cost to the model based on closed uranium mines in Europe and the USA will almost certainly deliver negative NPV even if incurred at the end of the project in 2029. Applying the low end of the range of global benchmark closure costs of $A10.3/lb U3O8 would result in a nominal closure cost of $A223Mn in 2029, which applied to our Mid case results in NPV $A -2.15Mn.

We know these sorts of figures are being assessed by many who wish to invest in Toro, and as we have seen, Toro’s shares—notwithstanding having permission to go ahead—are falling through the floor. So, is uranium economic? Will it ever be up and running? My view is that the pure economics of the project will knock it on the head. The Wiluna project sits very high on the cost curve of global uranium projects. We have to remember that the Wiluna project is probably—I am taking a rough guess at this—about 1.5 per cent uranium per volume of ore, which is normal for uranium in those roll front deposits in the sandstone region. When we compare this with the 30 per cent uranium content in Canada, we start to wonder where the economics really come from.

The government made much of its economic performance, but I would like to return to the Auditor General’s report on major capital projects in 2012, which looked at the 20 highest value non-residential building projects—hospitals, prisons, offices and the like—but did not look at the Muja project. The Auditor General found there to be inadequacies in transparency and accountability. The cost overruns for these projects averaged 114 per cent up to 200 per cent, and were, on average, completed 16 months late. Just yesterday, Minister Hames admitted that Fiona Stanley Hospital would be even further delayed by up to a year before it is fully operational and that it will cost millions to compensate Serco for the breach of contractual staffing arrangements.

Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich: It is billions, isn’t it?

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: I think it is millions. I turn to the newspaper—the newspapers are never wrong! I think it actually says millions in this article from Lucy Martin. The minister said he will negotiate with the company but concedes that the delay could cost the government millions of dollars. I wonder whether some of the election promises can be met, based on some of the projections that we are seeing and the revenue writedown of $2 billion due to the iron ore royalty forecast bungle. Even worse, what if another price drop occurs? I note that the spot price for iron ore dropped today to $110 per tonne. I make it clear that when we look forward fiscally, we must remember that this state and all the other states are catching up, to a large degree, on the global financial crisis. That is not necessarily this government’s or indeed the federal government’s fault; it is the reality of the times in which we live. Recently, I sat down with BHP Billiton and discussed some of its expansion projects and where it was going with the outer harbour developments in Hedland. BHP clearly enunciated that it will work on a business-as-usual basis with no further expansion or investment. It will just produce iron ore, market it, and put it on the ships as economically as it can. The problem is that if the iron ore price—our principal royalty earner—takes another dive, it will have an immense effect on the future.

A motion on the GST was moved today. The GST is an unusual beast because of the way it was created. Many people have said that it has had a marked effect on Western Australia. The nature of the GST is that it returns to individuals across the whole of Australia the same basic income, or return, on their taxation dollar. When this state was involved in the negotiations on the GST and established the current GST arrangement, the state made sure that when it was getting a low return on iron ore, the state got its fair share of the GST revenue. Unfortunately, when we saw the boom, there was a disassociation with that agreement and we now lose somewhere in the region of 70 per cent of our royalties through vertical fiscal equalisation with the federal government. However, we still retain 30 per cent more than any other state. We must remember that we are approximately 30 per cent better off under that arrangement than Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria, although that is not the case with Queensland. We must be mindful also when projecting forward expenditure that the adjustment of the GST takes about three years to take effect. The adjustments that are made today are based on the earnings from our royalties to date and are implemented by a vertical fiscal equalisation arrangement in about three years. Therefore, Western Australia is always either doing exceptionally well from the GST arrangement because we are moving into a downturn, or doing exceptionally badly out of the GST arrangement because we are moving into a boom. They do not follow. When we are doing well, we are also doing well out of the GST arrangement but when we are doing badly after coming out of a boom cycle, we are also doing badly out of the GST arrangement. Our highs are high and our lows are low.

The Barnett government has clamped down on spending. The Premier said that a sharp fall in iron ore prices such as that which occurred last September could empty state coffers and Western Australia would have to wait some time to get extra GST revenue to compensate that. Mr Barnett was commenting on the very same point that I just raised. State debt is projected to reach $23.7 billion even before the 2013 election promises are added. We must look at some of the capital expenditure that was itemised in the document. My note seems to have gone, so I will move on.

I will again return to the issue of iron ore royalties. I am mindful that in the 2012–13 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the iron ore spot price was expected to moderate in the out years with the effective price of iron ore fines projected to fall from $146.30 a tonne to an average of $90.60 a tonne by 2015–16. Today that figure is $110 a tonne; therefore, we still have a fair way to go, according to the projections in general government revenue, which estimate that it will drop to $90.60 a tonne. As someone who is interested in the mining industry, I follow very closely what is reported each day in the MiningNews. It was interesting to note that on Wednesday, 5 June, PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded in its tenth annual global report into the minerals industry that the 2012 profits among the world’s 40 largest miners were in fact at 2006 levels, down 49 per cent, or $69.7 billion. The return on capital fell by 10 per cent to eight per cent. Jock O’Callaghan from PricewaterhouseCoopers identified that the plunge in profits in Australia was worse than the GFC, that the profit plunge is the deepest in the past decade and that it may be the biggest ever. Revenues of $731 billion were flat and represented only the second time in the past 10 years when revenues failed to grow. The key issue is that we need to be mindful that revenues are declining. We can all say that everything is fine and carry on as if nothing is wrong. It is not an issue of government’s responsibility; it is a fact of life. Governments of any ilk, both federal and state, must take on board what this will mean into the future. I want to touch on some other things shortly.

It is a shame that over the last period we have seen that the MAX—Metro Area Express—light rail has been delayed beyond 2018 as promised because it is more complex than first thought. The stamp duty on non-real assets was not abolished as promised. That was the second time it was promised. This significantly affects the small business sector. The Swan Valley bypass is a highway plan to remove heavy trucks from the Swan Valley. Is it a promise? The Premier and Treasurer have contradicted each other. The Treasurer said in a question in Hansard on 15 May that it was a promise. Then Premier Colin Barnett said it is more complex than first thought. He claimed that during the election the Liberals only ever promised to start the first section of 37 kilometres of roadway, but in written clarification to the upper house Mr Buswell later confirmed that the promise was to build the entire stretch. To a large degree these are promises in the past. Power prices have increased more than promised—above inflation level. Otherwise debt would have blown out further. This was well-known before the election, as Under Treasurer Tim Marney had pointed out quite clearly in the pre-election rounds that this would be a problem. A bit later I want to talk more on power prices and where that fits with where we will be fiscally in this state in the future. I think it was Hon Ken Travers who asked the question about the Perth–Darwin highway and the issues there.

I want to move on to where we will be with energy in the future. It is a complex issue, as the Leader of the House would know from having been Minister for Energy. Many things play on our energy prices. Again, I make it very, very clear that whatever the state government says, the problems are there and neither the current government nor the previous government could do anything about them. We have an ageing system. The wires need a great deal of maintenance and upkeep and there needs to be a significant amount of spend in that area. One of the problems that we are facing in this state is that 60 per cent of our energy in the south west interconnected system comes from gas. Until recently, that gas was relatively cheap because it was accessed through a long-term contract with the North West Shelf joint venturers. Basically, the contract comes to an end in 2015. Because of my involvement in the mining and petroleum industry, it is quite apparent that the prices that we pay for our gas from Gorgon will be, at minimum, somewhere between 100 and 300 per cent more than the prices we are currently paying. We do not know because it is commercial-in-confidence information, but from talking to the people who negotiated the contracts, I know that to be the case. That will mean that beyond 2015 there will be something like a doubling, if not a tripling, of gas prices to provide electricity in the south west interconnected system. At the same time there is starting to be a decline. Maybe it is not declining now, but under the original scenarios of expanding our mining industry, there was to be a discrepancy between available gas and gas for domestic purposes. I went to the Pilbara industry conference last year and listened to a presentation by a representative of ACIL Tasman that encouraged the mining industry to consider investing in new forms of energy other than gas or distillate because of the demand side for the south west interconnected system that would occur beyond 2015. In an address to the Energy in Western Australia Conference in 2012, Mark Chatfield of ACIL Tasman made a number of salient points. I could read out the whole document, but it is really very, very droll and dry because it is very, very technical. He said, under 3, “Generation expansion and replacement in the SWIS” —

By 2025, it is expected that Verve will retire Kwinana C, Muja AB again, and the frame 6 gas turbines at Pinjar. This represents the retirement of 460 MW of coal fired plant, and 227 MW of gas fired plant assuming Kwinana C runs on coal.

He identified that there would be a retirement. He then went on to state —

Therefore, to fuel a competitive generation sector, and hence minimise the generated cost of electricity in the SWIS, will require multiple sources of gas and multiple sources of coal, each of which would have a clear commercial imperative to sell its coal or gas ahead of another producer. Unfortunately, we do not have that situation in WA, and we are unlikely to be able to create it. Gas supplies are very tightly held, there are not say 5 gas producers competing to sell domgas, nor are there multiple competing coal producers. There may be 5 domgas producers, but they are at various stages in their commercial cycle, they are not aggressive competitors, and they often have common ownership. Similarly there are only two coal producers in the Collie Basin, which is clearly insufficient to promote vigorous competition between the new owners of Collie, Muja CD, Muja AB, Bluewaters and any future coal fired generation.

He went on to point out —

If the market does as the Federal Government has legislated, 99.4% of the growth in the SWIS until 2021 will be supplied by new wind projects. Given this outcome, it hardly seems in anyone’s interests to persevere with the costs and complexities of a market for electricity in the SWIS, it would be much cheaper to simply watch Synergy et al make their compulsory purchases of wind. They don’t need any other new sources of energy.

When the ACIL Tasman representative spoke to the Pilbara iron ore conference, he identified that one of the fundamental problems for industry would be that with the decline in generation and the cost of gas into the SWIS, there would be little left over for the mining industry. He pointed out the reality that nobody will deny people in the metropolitan area or in the south west area access to power; it is the mining industry and the big end of town that will have to find alternatives. I must say that I met with a number of mining companies in recent times and I am quite surprised at how progressive they have been in sourcing alternative energy projects. The one I looked at most recently was the development at Tropicana. For a long while, until it became too difficult, it looked at 100 per cent renewable energy for its mine. Many others are currently negotiating with major corporations out of America and other countries to develop solar thermal systems for mines because they can see the long-term economic benefit. Whilst the prices of electricity and gas are going up inexorably, at the same time renewable energy is reducing dramatically. In my view we have already passed the crossover point. Unless the government starts taking some future direction and ownership of energy systems in Western Australia, we will be caught with our proverbial pants down when the issue of having a grid that can deal with renewables that are cheaper than the current energy supply come into the system. I wanted to talk about many other things, but I am mindful of the time —

The PRESIDENT: Member, sorry to interrupt, but it would be within your right to seek leave for an extension on your 15 minutes.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: Thank you, Mr President. I am mindful that many members in this chamber have been listening to me and I am sure they could think of far better things to do! I will wrap up. I might bring on some of the other bits in an adjournment debate.

We really need to take on board our climate change responsibilities. Western Australia is twice the per capita of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and four times the world average. Bill McKibben recently told scientists that we can put about 500 billion more tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and still have some hope of staying below the two degree figure for the future. On current trends, that will take us about 15 years, which is not very good. So that members understand: the average temperature of this planet is about 15 degrees. There are some variables around this, so bear with me; it is a very simplistic argument. When we talk about two degrees’ temperature, we do not talk about two degrees in the Pilbara, or 40 degrees and just a couple more; we talk about a number of degrees over the general world average. It probably will not mean a lot to Australia, but it will mean significant temperature increases in Europe and areas like that. That also figures in how we deal with the future. I am very committed to ensure that my children and grandchildren are left with a legacy of our generation to the point at which they can at least say “they tried”.

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