Renewable Energy Matter of Public Importance

06 February 2024

Here we are in 2024 and the Liberals and Nationals are trying to find yet another new angle to their climate denial. It is unbelievable that at this point in history we are still having these discussions and that there are still people in the Australian parliament saying things like 'ideological net zero targets'. What a disgrace! In fact, renewable energy is the only way to ensure that the nation remains standing after a decade of backpedalling and denial by the coalition on climate change.

Today's matter of public importance is, 'This Government's failure to consider the impact of renewable energy projects on communities', yet the impacts of failing to build renewable energy capability in Australia will have a significantly more harmful effect on Australian communities. The previous government ensured that Australia remains far behind the rest of the world in developing our renewable energy capability. We've had hundreds of people outside parliament today campaigning against renewable energy, and they were supported by the members opposite. This constant refusal by members opposite to see the detrimental effects of climate change will have the biggest impact on Australian communities.

The Albanese Labor government has been working with communities to ensure that they are engaged in our renewable energy work. Particularly, the regions stand to benefit the most from our renewable energy transformation, and we are excited to address community expectations about energy projects. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy released the Community engagement review by the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner. This review is evidence of our government's work to ensure that the voices of regional communities have been heard and to ensure that they receive real benefits from the renewable energy transition. The government accepted, in principle, all the recommendations made in the report, which included streamlining and ensuring transparency in approval processes; keeping communities informed of energy transformation goals, benefits and needs; and improving complaints handling.

Regional communities and renewable energy can coexist successfully. This is just another false dichotomy peddled by those opposite. Research indicates that regional people believe renewable energy projects will be the biggest opportunity for their local regions over the next two decades. Further, the impacts of climate change were considered to be the biggest threat to farming in regional areas over the next two decades, and farmers know this. Renewable energy projects will help protect regional areas and ensure that they are able to remain the backbone of Australia.

Climate change and its effects is the biggest concern for many Australians, particularly younger Australians. I am fortunate to have one of the youngest electorates in the country; an electorate filled with young people who are fighting every day for their future and making Australia the country that they want it to be. Yet it is young people who will live for decades with the decisions that we make in this place and who are experiencing never-before-seen levels of climate anxiety that are affecting their day-to-day lives. As one mother of teenagers in my electorate put it to me, they feel that the adults have let them down. I remember learning about climate change, which we then called the greenhouse effect, when I was in primary school. I cannot believe that here we are, in 2024, still having these discussions in this parliament, nor that there would still be people denying the existence of climate change—this existential crisis facing us—or that people are still sticking their heads in the sand on this.

I am proud to be standing here as part of a government that is taking this seriously, that is investing in renewable energy and that is addressing this head on. The Albanese Labor government is committed to ensuring that this planet is safe and well into the future by reversing the damage and setbacks perpetrated by the previous government. We want to ensure that the Earth is livable for future generations, for our children and our grandchildren. We are working to make renewable energy cheaper and more accessible while taking concrete steps to improve the climate.

I am proud that, here in the ACT, the ACT government has achieved 100 per cent renewable energy and last year announced that they will futureproof the ACT's energy supply by creating a large-scale battery storage facility. This will prevent future blackouts in the ACT and will be completed in 2025. The ACT government proves that renewable energy has only positive impacts on local communities.

The Albanese Labor government has also, just this week, announced another policy that is going to need more renewable energy than before. The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard will bring more electric vehicles to Australia while also ensuring that petrol cars are fuel efficient and cheaper to run. Australia and Russia are the only two countries without these standards. It is time we joined the world and it is time those opposite caught up.