House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Renewable Energy

2:18 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. In Germany, farmers own 10 per cent of all renewable energy and everyday people own another 30 per cent. If we had a similar system here, billions of dollars could flow into the pockets of regional Australians. My proposed Australian local power agency, which you and I discussed last week, would achieve this by requiring new large renewable energy projects to offer residents within 30 kilometres the chance to invest in those projects. Does the Prime Minister believe that regional Australians should have a legislated right to invest in renewable energy projects being built in their communities?

2:19 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Indi for her question. I also thank her for her engagement on this issue, not just this year but in the meetings we had last year as well. She knows my keen interest in the path that she's pursuing here and the tangible benefits that can be achieved for local communities and what that could mean for regional communities, not just householders, especially when it comes to investment in renewable energy. Our government is considering the proposal in good faith, as I've said, and we will continue to work through that detail. I note the matter that the member has brought before this House to that end, and we're also considering government's support for community driven renewable energy projects. Part of our plan includes our $50.4 million Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, backing microgrid feasibility studies across Australia to help unlock investment that would better meet the local electricity supply. I know the member for Leichhardt is also very interested in those proposals and in many others around the country.

I say to the member for Indi: this is exactly the type of thing we want to see realised. Our plan is working. We have now seen a record eight consecutive quarters of year-on-year CPI price reductions in energy. We want to see that realised in regional Australia as much as we want to see it in our metropolitan areas. I'll ask the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction to respond further.

2:20 pm

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased to add to the Prime Minister's answer. I met with the member for Indi on her proposal. Now we have the legislation. As of this week we're working our way through that. We are delivering on a plan for a range of initiatives across regional Australia to support reliable, affordable energy as we bring down our emissions. The Prime Minister has already mentioned the microgrid program. There are projects in the Daintree in the member for Leichhardt's electorate but also projects in the member for Indi's electorate, where there's a project looking at pumped hydro and batteries to support the record levels of investment we're seeing in solar.

We are also supporting community organisations, small businesses and dairy farmers through the $40 million Energy Efficient Communities Program, and in the member for Indi's electorate that has included the Yackandandah Football Netball Club and the Benalla Aviation Museum. These grants are providing community groups and businesses with the opportunity to make investments to deliver affordable, reliable energy as we bring down our emissions. That's our commitment. That's what we're delivering. Thank you again for the discussion we've had in recent times.