Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — I rise to make a statement on the Auditor-General’s report entitled Facilitating Renewable Energy Development, released in April 2011. In looking at the report it is clear that in the first couple of pages it makes some important points, the first of which provided me with some optimism:
“In most cases, the renewable energy projects examined in this audit were well managed and the funding well administered by the responsible agencies. The projects funded under the energy technology innovation strategy, the Renewable Energy Support Fund and Department of Business and Innovation (formerly the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development) grants were soundly based, with clear objectives and targets, and clear alignment with government policy.”
We do have departmental and organisational infrastructure here in Victoria that can seriously assist us in facilitating renewable energy development.
The other salient point made on the first page of the report is:
“The volume of renewable energy presently generated falls well short of expectations and growth in the state’s capacity to generate renewable energy is not on track to meet future targets.”
Clearly we need to have drivers to facilitate renewable energy development so that our energy needs and our economy can make the necessary transitions. This is where I have significant concerns. What drives these concerns is that I really do not believe that this government has the commitment to tackle the issues that confront us in respect of climate change. Leading up to last year’s election, the former Labor government passed the Climate Change Act 2010, which set a target to reduce Victoria’s carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. In passing this legislation, Victoria was recognised as the leader in the fight against the effects of climate change in Australia. There were a number of quotable quotes from authorities at that time.
At the time the then opposition, now government, supported that legislation, and in the lead-up to the state election last year it gave all indications to the Victorian community that if it was elected to government, essentially it would work along the lines that the Labor government had put in place to tackle climate change. Unfortunately what we have seen since the election is a Premier who talks about targets being aspirational. In terms of trying to pin him down to any real commitment to climate change, there is simply nothing.
Unfortunately I think the Victorian public has been hoodwinked into believing that the coalition government was going to do something about climate change. My other concern is the approval by the Minister for Planning of amendment VC82, which creates significant hurdles for the wind energy industry. In my electorate of Western Victoria Region the wind energy industry is a significant industry. In fact my electorate is home to the wind energy industry, and in the last 48 hours all the key stakeholders in that industry have confirmed that they will not be involved in any new investment. That investment will now go interstate. This is devastating news for workers and land-holders who would have received remuneration from the industry.
In the last six months there has already been a severe dislocation of workers, particularly construction workers and labourers. They have been forced to leave their homes in search of work as construction and infrastructure projects have dried up, particularly in south-western Victoria.
They have been forced to seek work around Melbourne. This government’s whole approach to climate change and renewable energy is one of denial — it denies reality, it denies the science and it fails to provide a rationale for the approach it has taken. Surely on issues as important as these that are staring us in the face we should be able to have a reasoned debate and a bipartisan strategy. There is no doubt that there are opponents of wind farms and that they are vocal. But to allow one group in the community to override the rest of the community is simply bad, reactive decision making.
I wholeheartedly agree with the editorial in the Age today, which concludes:
“Wind energy is one of the ways of the future, as it already is in many other — –“
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT — Order! The member’s time has expired.