September 15, 2020
Comments by Helen Haines MP, Independent Federal Member for Indi, in response to the Prime Minister’s gas plan –
Today the Prime Minister announced plans to spend taxpayer money building a new gas-fired power station and funnelling subsidies to the gas industry.
This announcement contains nothing for our community here in Indi. Worse, it appears the government is missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to unleash the potential of our region in renewable energy.
Here in Indi, we are one of 33 designated ‘renewable energy zones’, the areas across regional Australia identified as the best places to generate new renewable energy.
As well as having abundant solar resources, our mountains contain enormous potential for pumped hydro storage –the type of dispatchable electricity generation that the government wants to develop.
In North East Victoria, 151 sites have been identified as suitable for pumped hydro storage, with a collective storage capacity of 6500 gigawatt hours.
That is 13 times the total amount of storage needed for Australia to reach 100 per cent renewable electricity. In Indi alone.
The government could have today announced a plan to develop these renewable resources. Instead, it decided to commit taxpayers’ money to new gas infrastructure and a new gas power station, which the private sector refuses to build itself.
This is a step backwards. It is a decision that fails us here and now and fails our future generations.
A gas-fuelled recovery will mean higher electricity prices, higher emissions, and fewer jobs. It will mean clean manufacturing jobs go overseas. And everyday people in regional Australia will miss out.
The decisions we make now will lay the foundation for our economy for decades to come. We could light our money on fire by propping up the polluting industries of last century. Or we could invest in clean 21st century industries that will create a generation of shared prosperity.
We have a choice. And today the Government made the wrong one.
Next week, I will release my own plan to invest $483 million over the next decade rebuilding our regions through clean power.
My Local Power Plan will empower everyday regional Australians to benefit from renewable energy. It will put everyday communities at the heart of our energy transition, ensuring new energy projects involve, employ and benefit locals.
I have already briefed Energy Minister Angus Taylor on my plan. And I hope it will receive the support of every MP who believes in the future of our regions.
Because regional Australia deserves better than what the government gave us today. We must seize this moment and harness the power of renewables to drive our regions forward.
Image: Friends of the Earth for Hepburn Wind