Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill 2017

Mr  J. BULL (Sunbury) — I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill 2017. There is nothing better than hearing the Greens sing our praises, and I thank the members for Melbourne and Prahran for being here this afternoon. Let us not forget it is the Andrews Labor government that brought this legislation before the house. It is the Andrews Labor government that budgeted for this legislation and delivered Labor budgets, not Greens budgets. It is a government that has Labor ministers, not Greens ministers, and of course a Labor Premier.

This government — the Andrews Labor government — gets things done. We are a forward-thinking government willing to make those big decisions that secure our state’s future and keep our state thriving both now and for future generations. This is a government that has not wasted a single day in office, because we on this side of the house know how important it is to use all of those tools afforded to us in government to make this state an even better one, whether it is building Melbourne Metro, removing those 50 level crossings, improving the Tullamarine and Monash freeways — all of the projects that are on the go in making this state better and stronger — or setting tangible, realistic and exciting renewable energy targets. This government — the Andrews Labor government — will always put people and jobs first.

The Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill 2017, as we have heard this afternoon, enshrines in law our targets of 25 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

Mr Richardson — That is keeping the lights on.

Mr J. BULL — That is keeping the lights on, member for Mordialloc. What does that actually mean though? It means an investment, a real investment, in modern technology. It means an investment in modern jobs. It means a cleaner, healthier and safer environment for generations to come. That is something that each and every member of this side of the house, and in fact all members of the house, should want. The time has come for us in this place to make it clear that if we are to have an affordable, reliable and clean energy future, we must now plan for and grow our renewable energy sector.

I had the great opportunity in earlier years to study environmental science during my university days, and for a long time it has been clear to me that the world was moving in the direction of renewable energy. We know that renewables are the cheapest to build, we know that they are the fastest to build, we know that the banks believe in them, and we know that in every possible way, in every shape and form, renewable technologies make sense. Of course they are our future. On top of all those benefits that you do receive as a state and a nation, they are incredibly exciting. Whether it is wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, there is so much scope and so much opportunity to buy into these technologies and to get on and deliver these really exciting projects. Only those opposite, along with some of their mates in Canberra, would oppose some of these projects. I do say though, history will be the best judge. In five, 10, 15 or 20 years time, when these targets are set right around the world and renewables have created thousands of jobs and in fact brought power prices down, I ask those opposite to come out and apologise.

We know that there are a whole range of opportunities in this space — a whole range of projects and a whole range of jobs, especially throughout rural and regional Victoria. I listened quite closely to the comments this afternoon of the shadow minister for energy and resources, the member for Caulfield, and I have to say they were some of the least inspiring that I have heard. Shadow minister, I do say to you: this is a very exciting space, and these new technologies are vital for jobs, a clean environment and many of those communities right across the state that need significant investment. The shadow minister said this has to be done sensibly. What could be more sensible than setting a target — a tangible and realistic target — investing in those right technologies and having a clear and tangible vision? That is exactly what the Andrews Labor government is focused on doing. We know that Victorians are sick and tired of hearing the drab doom and gloom from those opposite. Victorians want energy security of course at an affordable price and they want and need a clean environment — not just for today’s generation but for generations to come.

I did have the great opportunity earlier this year to tour a local business, Fronius Australia, based in Tullamarine in my electorate. Fronius has 28 subsidiaries on four continents, as well as sales and service partners in more than 60 countries spanning every continent. They began in 1945, and at that time charging car batteries was something that could not be taken for granted. It was Günter Fronius who was unwilling to accept this. To begin with he repaired electrical appliances, and he built his first charger using 50 hertz of technology. In 1992 the decision was taken to focus on the future field of solar energy, which is where the company is today. They have three divisions: perfect welding, solar energy and perfect charging. These companies — if we take Fronius as an example and we look right across the state — have gone from strength to strength creating jobs, improving technologies and improving the communities that they are in through those job creations, but also by being a sustainable business — a business that improves the environment and is better for everyone. It is businesses like Fronius and hundreds more right across the state that will benefit from a renewable energy target.

Our target of 40 per cent by 2025 will deliver thousands more jobs, and we are hosting a renewable energy auction, as other members have mentioned this afternoon. To put it into context, an auction of up to 650 megawatts will deliver enough energy to power 389 000 households every year, or the equivalent of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, the Latrobe Valley and more. This alone will create 1250 construction jobs and 90 ongoing jobs as well as $1.3 billion of additional renewable energy investment.

It is vital in this state that we embrace this transformation, the significant economic, environmental and social benefits that are available through this piece of legislation. This is a critical bill and it is an opportunity. That is why I go back to those disappointing comments by the shadow minister and the doom and gloom approach. We need to be leaders in this space. We need to be talking up this space. We need to be as excited by renewables as are so many of the fantastic businesses right across Victoria, and the Andrews Labor government is leading the charge.

Add to this that the Victorian renewable energy target is expected to reduce the average annual electricity bill for representative households by around $29 per year, for medium businesses by around $2500 per year and for large companies by around $140 000 per year. These are significant price drops, and that is critical. We know this will happen the more wind and solar resources come online and onto the market. We have new wind farms near Horsham and the Mount Gellibrand wind farm near Colac that will also be up and running next year, supplying enough electricity to power over 80 000 Victorian homes. These are significant projects and significant investments.

Renewable energy is fast establishing itself as the cheapest and cleanest source of new electricity supply, and this is fantastic news both for job creation and for the environment. Billions of dollars of investment into Victoria will help to create up to 11 000 jobs, the majority of which will be in regional areas, which of course is fundamentally important for those smaller but just as important local economies. I think that is something those opposite should fully recognise, fully understand and completely support.

We know that these are critical projects to see the Victorian renewable energy target delivered. The Andrews Labor government is getting on with doing what is needed in this space. Our plan is out there, and we will deliver it. I want to take the opportunity to commend the Premier, the Treasurer and of course the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change on having the vision, the determination and, most importantly, the passion and drive to see this done. This is a visionary piece of legislation, and I fully commend the Victorian renewable energy target and the bill to the house.