Newly appointed Energy Minister Guy Barnett has promised a “fresh start and new approach” to the government portfolio but has stopped short of criticising his predecessor.
Former Energy Minister Matthew Groom made the surprise decision last Friday to withdraw from his ministerial roles and not recontest the upcoming election, citing work demand pressures.
In his first media appearance since taking on the new role, Mr Barnett outlined a “Tasmanian first policy initiative” which would mean the lowest power prices in the country by 2022.
With this, he said the state’s energy security would be closely guarded with only excess power sold to the mainland.
RELATED: Revamped cabinet revealed
“Very clearly we are continuing the efforts that have been undertaken in the past,” Mr Barnett said.
“But I’m making it clear that as Energy Minister, Tasmanians will come first.”
Mr Barnett denied that the policy position on energy security conflicted with Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation objective.
“It will still be pursued...but Tasmanians will come first,” he said.
“We cannot be distracted by pursuing a mainland focus.”
Mr Barnett said he would oversee a commitment to increase the state’s power-generating capacity by 1000 gigawatts by 2022.
Also serving in the government as Resources Minister, Mr Barnett said he would push for further exploration of the state’s biomass energy potential.
He would not comment on costings related to a pricing cap and less power exports to the mainland for financial return.
Gas contracts to the some of the state’s medium-sized businesses and industrial companies are due to expire this year.
Hydro Tasmania and Tasmanian Gas Pipeline are still negotiating over the cost of gas transmission to the state.
Mr Barnett said the government would not intervene to speed up the negotiations, as there was an arbitration option available to both parties, but was "monitoring the situation”.
Labor spokesman Josh Willie said Mr Barnett needed to resolve the gas contracts issue as soon as possible.
He took a swipe at Mr Barnett’s mantra expressed today of “putting Tasmania first”.
"Minister Barnett has said he is going to put people first – so what was Matthew Groom doing?" he said.
"He's effectively saying 'don't let the door hit you on the way out'."