Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:10:29): I would like to make a few points about the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Amendment Bill 2019.
As we know, the bill seeks to establish a renewable energy target of 50 per cent of electricity by 2030 and provides for a determination of the minimum amount of renewable energy generation capacity required to meet these targets by 2030. The Reason Party will be supporting this bill today.
Certainly I think 50 per cent is a very modest target, and I believe that we could definitely do better, but from all discussions 50 per cent is achievable, and it is realistic. At the moment we have targets of 25 per cent by 2020, 40 per cent by 2025 and now 50 per cent by 2030.
As I said, I believe that is modest, but I also acknowledge and am pleased to see that these targets are going to be reviewed annually, so we can see these ever-evolving and fast evolving technologies around renewable energy and we can see that we can improve on those targets. I would fully expect that in 12 months we will see changes and improvements to those targets.
Of course we cannot let up on the climate emergency that we are facing. More than that, we as the state of Victoria must be leaders in addressing the existential threat of climate change. The forecasts are compelling and the scenarios are devastating.
We cannot forget for a second that the most important question of our time is how to restore a safe climate. Now we must include a transition to zero emissions.
Mr Finn interjected.
Ms PATTEN: I note Mr Finn laughing about this, and I am sure we all recall when Mr Finn reminded us of those happy school days on the hot summer bus where his bare thighs were stuck on that vinyl seat —
Ms PATTEN: While I do believe in a climate emergency, I am afraid the thought of Mr Finn’s bare thighs on that seat calls for some sort of emergency brainwashing for my head. A 50 per cent target will give our industry the confidence it deserves.
It will give industry the confidence to plan and to invest in research and development. It will give a clear understanding that we are serious about the renewable industry in this state. In many ways it will ensure that industry understands that the government does have its back in this area.
I look forward to seeing the innovations that we will see, and we are certainly seeing those quickly evolving. Look at Infrastructure Victoria’s reports on how the government can provide the levers to renewable energy.
Some of that will be things like changing our car fleet over to electric cars, which will then provide the support that the private sector needs to roll out the infrastructure that we need to transition to electric transport in this state.
The Greens amendments seek to lift the renewable rate to 100 per cent. At first blush I thought, ‘Well, it’s aspirational. Why can’t we support that?’. I think it is laudable, but I think it is aspirational—I think it is just that.
For me, to give the industry confidence and to give the community confidence that we are serious about this, setting unattainable targets at this point does not give them the confidence that they need. In looking at the Greens plan, it also required by 2030 an investment of $9 billion in publicly owned renewable energy. So in the next short time we would need to invest $9 billion there, plus $500 million in publicly owned storage.
Now, I actually have confidence that the private sector can do this, and I have confidence that we can build this. Look, I would love to see it at 100 per cent by 2030, but Victoria is not Tasmania and Victoria is not the ACT. We have very different energy requirements here, and I think to set that sort of target now is unattainable and is unrealistic.
I will be very happy to revisit this on an annual basis to see how we can keep pushing those targets up. I would love to stand here corrected—to see that that was attainable in 10 years—but at this stage I do not believe that it is.
In anticipation of my good colleague Mr Bourman speaking, he circulated some amendments to us all earlier this week around adding hydro to the list of renewables, and I think this is a very sensible amendment. Victoria is probably the second best placed state when it comes to hydropower.
The Australian National University did a study where they reported there were about 4400 sites that had the potential for pumped hydro storage. These sites would have the capacity to store over 11 000 gigawatt hours and enough to power over 200 000 homes for an entire year.
The Reason Party has a policy to invest in further feasibility studies into the possibilities for such sites in order to assist with our transition away from non-renewable sources.
Reason supports the move for the 50 per cent. I do hope we can get higher. As I said earlier, I hope that the Greens are right and that 100 per cent is attainable, but at this stage I do not believe that it is, and I will support the move to 50 per cent.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Amendment Bill 2019 – Second reading 18/10/19