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Nats call for inquiry into doomed Albany wave energy project

The Nationals WA have again called for a Parliamentary inquiry into Labor’s failed Albany wave energy project to ensure the gross waste of taxpayer funds isn’t repeated.

Energy spokesperson Terry Redman said an inquiry – which The Nationals first called for in November – was needed to get to the bottom of the McGowan Government’s “awful” decision making and handling of the project.

“The public deserve to know why the Regional Development Minister decided to provide Carnegie Clean Energy with $2.6 million of taxpayer money last October despite multiple warning signs that the company was not up to delivering the wave farm,” Mr Redman said.

“Questions asked at the time by The Nationals WA revealed Carnegie had not met any milestones attached to the State Government’s $15.75 million funding commitment.

“Of further concern, Carnegie’s 2017-18 financial report stated the company incurred a net loss after tax from continuing operations of more than $63 million. An auditor’s note in the same report cast ‘significant doubt about (Carnegie’s) ability to continue’.

“Yet the Minister still decided to hand over a significant sum of taxpayer money. That money is now lost.

“If the Premier is not going to hold the Minister accountable for her actions then the Parliament needs to by way of a referral to the Public Accounts Committee.”

Mr Redman said the McGowan Government’s handling of the Albany wave energy farm project went against everything Labor had preached about with regards to transparency and fiscal responsibility.

“One of the first recommendations from Labor’s Langoulant inquiry was that all projects must have a business case – there was no business case for this project,” he said.

“A business case would have highlighted the issues and the uncertainty this project presented and perhaps would have saved taxpayers a significant sum of money.”

Mr Redman said the biggest loser out of the failed project were the people of Albany.

“Bear in mind this Government was elected on a promise to create jobs,” he said. “Labor are now presiding over the worst unemployment rate in the State’s recent history.

“The people of Albany are the ones that I feel for. They were told there was going to be a wave energy farm off the coast; they were told they’d have a project that would deliver hundreds of jobs for their community. That promise is now in tatters.

“You’ve got a government that’s burnt $2.6 million of taxpayer funds, funds which could have been used elsewhere to create jobs on the south coast.”