Just over two decades ago I appeared in front of Queensland Parliament's budget estimates committee for the first time as the Minister for Mines and Energy.
During the hearing I explained that I thought people had yet to understand the importance of the "Carpentaria/Mount Isa" Minerals Province.
I said the province was "a dream and a vision", and its establishment was the result of a Government willing to dedicate the resources and establish the policy framework to bring it to fruition.
Incidentally, in the same hearing, I also outlined the approach the Queensland Government would take in implementing the then Federal Government's 2% renewable target.
Clearly a lot has changed over the past 20 years.
At that time our minerals province was at the dawn of a new era. Cannington, Ernest Henry and Century mine were burgeoning.
These new mines created thousands of new jobs on top of the thousands supported by the existing mines. One of the major drivers for these new developments was an energy transition.
In 1998 the Carpentaria Gas Pipeline brought gas to the province. Just two short years later our major power station, Mica Creek, converted from coal to the more efficient and cleaner.
This transition drove many years of prosperity and investment and I can now confidently say that Queenslanders, and indeed Australians, understand the importance of our minerals province and the industrial economy across the Townsville to Mount Isa region.
As we were in the late 90's, we we're on the cusp of another energy transition to finally be part of Australia's national electricity grid.
This transition again provides us with the opportunity to deliver tens of thousands of jobs, decades of wealth and billions of dollars in economic value to both the North West and Queensland as a whole.
This transition is the product of a convergence of new technology and traditional energy sources that can bring cheap and reliable power to the North West.
The latest independent economic analysis prepared for CopperString 2.0 confirms how beneficial lower electricity prices will be to North West Queensland, and in fact to the rest of Australia with a total increase in national income of over $6 billion over the 30 year study period.
Queensland is lucky to have the youngest and most efficient fleet of coal fired generation in the country.
We also have some of the best renewable energy resources in Australia, and for the North West these resources are right at our doorstep.
If these energy resources, backed-up with valuable gas generation, are combined in the right way with the right policies, they will support new investment in our traditional industries.
This will ensure our valuable minerals export supply chain will continue to contribute billions of dollars to the Queensland economy for decades to come.
From Mount Isa to the Port of Townsville we'll continue our proud tradition of mining, refining and exporting the best minerals products in the world.
For the North West to benefit from Queensland's great energy assets I believe we need the right infrastructure and the right policies.
Twenty years ago we needed a gas pipeline, today the infrastructure we need is power transmission to access our national grid and enable our region to benefit from Queensland's reliable coal fired generation and high quality renewables.
We also need policies that ensure the North West can maximise the unique and valuable position that the Government has provided by maintaining ownership of Queensland's electricity assets.
For these reasons I'm so pleased to see CopperString 2.0 advancing with positive support from the Queensland Government and the Australian Government.
If we get this combination of infrastructure and policy right, and act with the same vision and dedication of those who established the minerals businesses here in our province we will have generations of prosperity ahead of us and deliver so much more for Queensland.
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