Senate debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018


Climate Change Authority; Consideration

6:12 pm

Photo of Andrew BartlettAndrew Bartlett (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

In the short time available, I want to highlight a few key parts of the Climate Change Authority's Review of the National Wind Farm Commissionerreport, dated May 2018. This was a review the government promised they would do when they first established the Wind Farm Commissioner, and this is the result of that review.

The report notes the rapid expansion of the wind industry in Australia as a key component of the growing renewable energy industry in Australia and a key component in assisting to deliver into the future not just cleaner energy but cheaper energy than the energy generation methods of the past, particularly coal, which is not only dirty but also expensive. The number and size of wind farms in Australia has grown rapidly. According to this report, there are currently around 78 wind farms in Australia, with at least another 21 proposed, which will increase wind farm capacity by almost two-thirds when they are completed. Wind farms are in all states in Australia. They are particularly concentrated in the south-eastern corner of the continent—South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, but also in other states. I saw quite a sizable new wind farm development going up on the Atherton Tablelands when I was up there just a few weeks ago.

The report also notes that new development associated with the renewable energy target is likely to be significant over the next few years in the wind industry but also with large-scale solar and storage developments, such as large-scale batteries. This is being driven not just by the Commonwealth renewable energy target but also by the policy of some state governments in actively promoting greater investment in renewable energy. This is also, of course, generating jobs, many of them in regional and rural parts of the country—both construction jobs and ongoing maintenance jobs. This also highlights, I should say, a development driven by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, a key achievement that Greens were able to deliver. That has delivered cheaper, cleaner power and also significant numbers of jobs around the country in regional areas.

This commitment to strengthening renewable energy is all the more critical and, at least while this government stays in power, it puts a significant onus on state governments to pick up the slack and not only fill the void but counter the vandalism that's happened at national level, with this government's disgraceful tearing to pieces of what was world's best practice when it came to a carbon-pricing regime. Of course, as we all know, the government replaced it with nothing but their own incoherent internal ideological confusion. There was no coherent energy policy at all from this government, other than to destroy one that not only was actually delivering a significant reduction in emissions but also, over time, would have delivered cheaper power because of the expansion of renewable energy. So because of the chaos in the energy-pricing policies of this government, acting in the interests of its corporate donors, the mining sector and its mates in the coal industry and putting the community last, it is all the more crucial that there be a continuing commitment and a continuing push for expansion in investment in renewable energy.

This report by the Climate Change Authority acknowledges that, even under existing policy settings that this government hasn't been able to vandalise, there will continue to be significant expansion in renewable energy projects in the near future. But the Greens are calling for that to be turbocharged, because there is an ability to increase and improve the renewable energy targets well above not just what is being put forward by this government but what Labor is putting forward as well, which is certainly better than what the coalition are doing but is not as high as what is definitely achievable and doable. Renewable energy projects deliver significant jobs and reliable power. They deliver, obviously, not just cleaner energy but cheaper energy over time. So monitoring of those projects—because there will be more and more of them—is a good approach, but the key thing is to ensure that that investment in renewable energy not only continues but grows further.

Question agreed to.