The Marinus Link undersea interconnector project will be fast-tracked under a sweeping Commonwealth government plan to bring down power prices and improve the nation’s fuel security.
The proposed 1500 megawatt Bass Strait power cable would complement the existing Basslink cable, connecting Tasmania and Victoria’s energy grids.
Mr Morrison unveiled the government’s plan for a gas-led COVID-19 recovery plan in a national energy address in New South Wales’ Hunter Region on Tuesday morning.
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“Today I announce that the Commonwealth will work with state governments to accelerate three critical projects,” he said. “And we’ll have more to say about these later – the Marinus Link, Project Energy Connect and VNI West interconnectors.”
Project Energy Connect would connect New South Wales and South Australia’s grids, while VNI West would connect New South Wales and Victoria’s.
The Commonwealth will help accelerate all three projects with a $250 million program, forming a key plant of its JobMaker plan.
In a move that has angered clean energy advocates and environmentalists, the Morrison government has detailed its intention of “resetting” the east coast gas market by unlocking additional gas and ultimately setting up an Australian gas hub, creating high-paying jobs, particularly in manufacturing.
State Energy Minister Guy Barnett said the Prime Minister’s announcement reflected “ongoing positive negotiations the Tasmanian government is having with the Australian government”.
Mr Barnett said progress was being made in relation to a memorandum of understanding that would lead to a financial investment decision relating to the $3.5 billion, 350 kilometre-long Marinus Link cable.
“Marinus Link will play a vital role as we rebuild from COVID-19 with the combined investment in Marinus Link and renewable energy developments injecting up to $7.1 billion into our economy and creating thousands of jobs in our regional areas, and today’s announcement brings this one step closer to reality,” he said.
Opposition energy spokesman David O’Byrne said Marinus Link was “an exciting project for Tasmania and it’s too important to fumble”.
“We’ve lost track of the amount of times the federal government has announced this project will be fast-tracked,” he said. “While the federal government continues to make these announcements … [the] state government are progressing at a glacial pace.”
“We still don’t know who will pay for the $3.5 billion project, who will own it and when it will be built.”