National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024

folder_openSecond Reading
commentNo Comments

It is a pleasure to rise as the first government speaker to speak in favour of the National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024. At the outset I would like to thank the Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for Climate Action and Minister for the State Electricity Commission for her hard work as a trailblazer for the Victorian renewable energy transition. I extend that thanks to the minister’s entire team and the thousands of public servants in the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action and its associated entities for the work that they do.

Make no mistake, Victoria is in the middle of a renewable energy boom, and we are only just getting started. It is not words like those of the Greens political party and it is not inaction like that we saw with the policy purgatory that was the previous Liberal–National government. It is with real action that only Labor governments deliver. As the minister for energy, climate action and the SEC recently highlighted in this place, Victoria has already slashed our emissions by almost a third since 2005 while our economy has grown by 42 per cent over that same period. It busts the myths peddled by the Institute of Public Affairs science deniers and coal huggers that bold climate action is somehow incompatible with economic growth and prosperity. The reality is that bold climate action is delivering thousands of jobs, driving economic growth and boosting Victoria’s economy to new heights, and it is why the Allan Labor government proudly backs climate action.

Since 2020 alone we have delivered more than $3 billion of investment to support our renewables transition, because we know that half of our emissions are created in the energy sector and action in this space is the key to slashing emissions further. This investment into renewables is paying dividends. To give the house some perspective on the scale of this transition currently underway, Victoria currently has over 5.2 gigawatts of large-scale wind and solar capacity on line today, and there is another 7.5 gigawatts more in the way of projects approved by this government. That will more than double our large-scale renewables capacity. Of course that is in addition to our hugely successful Solar Homes program; the Victorian community’s passion for rooftop solar has delivered more than 4 gigawatts of capacity.

The numbers speak for themselves. Our renewables transition is moving at a rapid pace under our government, and the contrast could not be any clearer when compared with the Baillieu–Napthine era, when investment and progress stagnated. Where would our state be if the Liberals and Nationals had had more time on these benches? The outcomes would be bad: they would be dirty and they would be nuclear. But thankfully we have a progressive Labor government that is taking our renewables transition to the next level, with 30 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs sourced from renewables compared with 10 per cent or so when we came to government. From next year all Victorian government electricity needs will be sourced from renewables – everything at schools, hospitals and public transport, and even the electricity in this place.

We are only just getting started, because at the 2022 state election the Victorian people resoundingly endorsed the boldest energy policy in Victoria’s history, putting power back in the hands of the Victorian people and accelerating decarbonisation across the entire economy. First, we are bringing back the SEC, creating 100 per cent renewable government-owned power for Victoria. We are well on the way, with a power of work underway to deliver the first billion dollars of investment to grow our renewable energy workforce and drive down Victoria’s energy prices, because we know that renewables are the cheapest form of new energy generation in this state. Second, we are bringing forward our net zero target to 2045, setting Victoria up with one of the fastest decarbonisation targets in the developed world. For context, our transition here in Victoria is set to be faster than world leaders like Canada, Luxembourg or New Zealand. Third, we are accelerating our renewable energy targets, adding more renewable energy capacity to the Victorian grid and faster.

Originally we were set to have half of our energy sourced from renewables by 2030, but we are going to do even better, upping that target to 65 per cent, and in just over a decade, in 2035, we will have 95 per cent of our energy sourced from renewables. That is bold, and only the Allan Labor government is making it happen. These three elements – bringing back the SEC, bringing forward net zero and ramping up our renewable energy targets – were endorsed by the Victorian community at the last election, and I am proud to be part of the Allan Labor government that is making this happen. This bill before the house today, the National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024, is part of our legislative package to make it happen, because as a government we need to be setting the legislative conditions needed to support our whole-of-economy decarbonisation. The market will not magically do it alone. The Victorian government needs to lead the way as a proactive partner on this journey, making investments of our own and supporting the investment choices of our industry in our state.

And that brings me to the specifics of today’s bill. The National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024 is all about providing the legislative framework needed to deliver energy grid reform as we shift from fossil fuel electricity generation to renewables. This bill achieves this in a number of ways. First it establishes the broad transmission planning objectives, which the CEO of VicGrid will use in the creation of Victorian transmission plans, the first of which is due for publication in July next year. Furthermore, it writes into law the processes for the declaration of renewable energy zones across our state, including around matters such as community consultation, but also around detailed work around the renewable energy zones, which will connect to the transmission network. The bill also establishes a scheme to compensate landowners who host new transmission infrastructure, supporting the expansion of the transmission network in our state and in addition to existing acquisition laws. Put together, these changes are all about supporting investment in our transmission network as we deliver a rapid renewable transition, because without the legislative framework, you cannot deliver the benefits of our upcoming renewables boom.

What does that boom actually mean for Victorian families? It means a brighter future for Victoria’s environment. It means cheap, reliable energy for households and businesses, and most excitingly, it means jobs – thousands and thousands of great union jobs. That is what excites me most as a dad, as an MP and as a proud member of the Electrical Trades Union. This government’s investment in renewables is going to set up the next generation with quality, stable jobs in a prosperous industry with immense capacity to deliver social, economic and environmental good for this state. It is set to create 59,000 jobs over the coming years and decades. That will not just change individual lives; it is about improving outcomes for families and our entire Victorian community, in the city and indeed in the mighty regions.

We hear a lot in this place from those opposite about how renewable transition is somehow harmful for folks in the regions, the supposed blight of solar and wind on the landscape and the apparent city-centric focus of our government, but it could not be further from the truth. On this side of the house we are proud to have so many regional and rural MPs who were resoundingly endorsed at the last election, and even city MPs with rural and regional lived experience, me included. As a Geelong boy raised on a farm in Meredith in the member for Eureka’s beautiful part of the world, I remember fondly and can still see the beautiful views from outside our window of the Golden Plains wind farm.

I take comfort in knowing that the Labor government is investing in a brighter future with local jobs, investment in the regions and indeed a cleaner world for our next generation. Regional and rural Victorians see the benefits. That is why they resoundingly endorsed this government’s bold climate action agenda over the rhetoric and the supposed voice of the country in the Nationals and the Liberals. I am so proud of the government’s commitment to real action in this space – not nuclear energy or fossil fuels from those wishing to make Victoria a climate pariah. This VicGrid bill is an important step in continuing our nation-leading journey to net zero, setting Victoria up for a sustainable expansion of our transmission network as we bring thousands of new projects online. It is for that reason and for so many more that I commend the bill to the house.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed