House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Matters of Public Importance


3:56 pm

Photo of Alison ByrnesAlison Byrnes (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

If the member for Fairfax wants to talk about failure to deliver on energy, then maybe he needs to pick up a mirror and have a really good, hard look into it. By doing that, he will see there is a trail of mess and mismanagement that was left behind by his former government and its three prime ministers.

Reconstruction in the wake of the Liberal-National destruction won't happen overnight. It will take some time. But I can reassure the House and the member for Fairfax that, in the Illawarra, this Labor government isn't wasting a second in making the investments we need to rebuild the grid, lower energy prices and create the jobs of the future. These investments include $10 million to establish an energy future skill centre, located at the University of Wollongong so we have the skilled workforce to build the grid of the future; $2.5 million for a renewable energy training facility at the Wollongong TAFE, which will include upgrades to equipment and teaching aids; investing more than $1 million in a University of Wollongong study finding ways to keep Australia's grid secure through the renewable energy transformation; and investing in an Australian-German collaboration to reduce the cost of green hydrogen production and support cutting-edge technology in the industry, including close to $9 million to Hysata to work with Fraunhofer IPT to develop a new capillary-fed electrolyser to deliver low-cost hydrogen in Port Kembla. All of this is in addition to the New Energy Apprenticeships program, which will support Australians to train in the jobs of future and help power Australia's path to net zero emissions. Apprentices training in eligible occupations in the clean energy sector can now attract up to $10,000 in direct support, helping them to manage the cost of living while they train in the sectors essential to Australia's transition to a clean energy economy.

But, wait, there is more. This government is taking the lead on driving household electrification by committing $224.3 million to support 400 community batteries to store excess energy from rooftop solar generation. One of these batteries will be in Warrawong in my electorate, which is one of the lowest socioeconomic areas. This is a great win for the people in Warrawong; that's over 500 households. It is a suburb with some of the most vulnerable people, who will benefit from the Labor government's investment in a community battery. That's households that wouldn't be able to access clean energy technologies. They will be supported to gain the benefits of rooftop solar and other technologies, helping them to overcome the upfront capital costs of electrification.

We have also committed $100 million for the community solar banks program, which will support 25,000 households to access the benefits of community-scale solar, rooftop solar and clean energy technologies. These are real investments and real actions which are supporting Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of a 43 per cent reduction by 2030, net zero by 2050 and 82 per cent renewables into the grid by 2030. This is real and tangible action on climate change, which those opposite refused to take for far too long.

What are the Liberals listed investments to rebuild the grid, lower energy prices and create the jobs of the future for the Illawarra? They are outlined here: nothing. But, don't worry, the Greens party isn't much better. Their climate and energy plan and their Job-for-Job Guarantee, looking after coal communities, completely overlooks the Illawarra. The Hunter got a look-in, the Latrobe Valley got a look-in, Gladstone got a look-in, the Bowen Basin got a look-in, and even Collie in south-west WA is there. But the Illawarra doesn't even rate a mention in a Greens Party plan for the future.

Clearly, with the Liberals and the Greens parties, there isn't any respect for the workers of the Illawarra: the steel workers, the miners, the manufacturers, the educators and the innovators who are going to help us drive Australia to rebuild the grid, lower energy prices and create the jobs of the future.

After nearly a decade of neglect, the Albanese Labor government is roaring ahead, making up lost ground and getting on with the job. We are taking immediate action to shield Australian families and businesses from the worst of these energy price spikes. The plan is about taking some of the sting out of higher power prices to support families, protect local industries and save jobs.


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