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Victoria renewable target passes lower house – but Coalition vows to kill it

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View of the 35-turbine Challicum Hills Wind Farm, Victoria.The land between the turbines continues to be used for farming. Image by Rolandg, source: Wikimedia Commons.

View of the 35-turbine Challicum Hills Wind Farm, Victoria.The land between the turbines continues to be used for farming. Image by Rolandg, source: Wikimedia Commons.

Victoria is one step closer to having its renewable energy target of 40 per cent by 2025 written into law, after the Andrews government’s Renewable Energy Jobs and Investment Bill 2017 passed the lower house on Thursday – albeit without the backing of the state opposition.

The legislation, known at Spring Street as the VRET, stands to be the first of Australia’s numerous state-based renewable energy targets to be enshrined into law.

It will lock in the state in to successive targets of 25 per cent by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025, and underpinning its recently launched large-scale wind and solar auctions and other policy measures.

The Labor Andrews government claims the policy will create billions of dollars in new investment, 10,000 jobs and reduce the wholesale component of electricity bills by around $30 a year for households, $2,500 a year for medium businesses and $140,000 a year for large companies.

In a speech read to Parliament at the tabling of the bill, state energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said it would “underpin the decisive action that the Victorian government is taking to encourage investment in our energy sector and to ensure Victorians continue to benefit from a renewable, affordable and reliable energy system into the future.”

And in Tweeted comments on Thursday,  D’Ambrosio said she was proud to see the VRET pass the lower house, and that more renewables would equal cheaper electricity and more jobs.

The opposition Liberal National Coalition, in keeping with its federal and state counterparts, voted against the bill, leaving some doubt over its future beyond the next election, which is slated for November 2018.


Opposition leader, Matthew Guy, has campaigned against the target, describing it as “political vanity at the expense of consumers,” and arguing that it will cause power bills to rise, rather than fall, as the government has promised.

And while Guy has not himself confirmed or denied whether an elected Coalition government would repeal the renewable energy target – or, indeed, what its plan might be to reduce energy costs in the state – comments by other senior ministers in the party suggest that is precisely what the LNP would do.

“This is a bill which is about making life harder for ordinary Victorians, because we have to understand the human cost of the moral and political vanity that is contained within this bill,” said shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien in Parliament on Tuesday.

“Labor and the Greens say, ‘This is fantastic. Let’s go back to the Stone Age. Let’s try to get rid of electricity. It’s far better for people to feel the moral pain of paying higher bills, because that saves the planet somehow’ — what utter garbage,” O’Brien said.

“This is why this is a bad bill. It is why we will not only oppose it but, if this has the misfortune of passing this Parliament, we will repeal it.”

Outside of politics, green groups have welcomed the passage of the bill through the legislative assembly, and condemned the Coalition for its apparent ideological opposition to renewable energy.

“By opposing the VRET, Matthew Guy continues the federal Coalition’s policy of fostering chaos in the energy market,” said Environment Victoria’s acting CEO, Dr Nicholas Aberle in a statement on Thursday.

“The Victorian Coalition’s actions threaten investor certainty in renewable energy and the thousands of workers and families who rely on the industry.

“Under Matthew Guy, the Victorian Coalition has now delivered a trifecta of indifference towards clean energy and climate action. In the past 12 months, they have voted against a new Climate Change Act, voted against encouraging more rooftop solar, and now voted against large scale renewable energy – the cheapest and cleanest form of new electricity.

“The Coalition’s own plans seem to extend no further than using public money to prop up ancient coal generators and even building a new polluting coal power station. Their track record in government of blocking renewable energy projects and scrapping energy efficiency schemes helped create the problems we’re seeing today. Had they not done this, it is very likely that Victorians today would have lower power bills,” Aberle said.

Friends of the Earth also welcomed the news of the bill’s passage, saying it would bring the state a step closer to jobs, cheaper power, and climate action.

“This outcome is a big win for the community, the labour movement, business, and everyone hungry for action on climate change,” said Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson Pat Simons.

The bill will now go the legislative council for the final seal of approval.

  

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  • solarguy

    It seems the COALalition has a self destruct mechanism built into their DNA. I doubt that they will win the next election in VIC, because of their stance on RE. And when they loose will the morons keep on with same mantra?

  • Joe

    Tony and Matty….a match made in Coal Heaven.

  • Chris Fraser

    What consistent form on display in Vic. Maybe the coalition has been watching Tony Abbott videos on ‘sheer political spite’.

  • Ken Dyer

    To paraphrase Tony Abbott, who recently declared that “Let the Labor Party be the party of renewable energy and us to be the party of reliable energy”, one could say, LET THE LABOUR PARTY BE THE CLEAN ENERGY PARTY AND WE WILL BE THE DIRTY ENERGY PARTY.
    Sorry for yelling, but……..will this COALition mob ever wake up?

    I say YES to clean energy.

    I say NO to dirty energy

    • solarguy

      If we can stop the money under the table capper, perhaps they will wake up.

  • Ian

    Both mobs need to plan how to deal with the market and network gaming that has been rife in SA.

  • George Darroch

    The Coalition are awful people. All of them.

    If you’re represented by one, ring them up and tell them what you think.

  • Rebecca

    Australia’s worst import of the century has to be cane toads & coal lover Tony Abbott. Tony has no love for Australia or Australians, he & his cronies are hell bent on destroying both. This man most pathetic excuse for a politician & Malcolm Turnbull comes a close second for not standing up & being counted. Malcolm the man you idolize Bob Menzies alias Pig Iron Bob for very good reason. You need to definitely aim higher, must say most of the good ones were Labor.

    • Joe

      There has to be a way to restore the Abbott’s former pommie citizenship. Then we can deport him and ‘Aussie Robbo’ ( Sen. Roberts – I choose to believe that I am and always was an Aussie ) back to the motherland as punishment for their misdeeds against Australia.

  • lin

    “The Coalition’s own plans seem to extend no further than using public money to prop up ancient coal generators and even building a new polluting coal power station.

    To be fair, Guy has lost Victorian taxpayers a lot of money with his rezoning, dodgy development approvals, weird side letters to road builders and relationships with “interesting” friends. He is a disaster in more areas than just his illogical support for fossils. If Murdoch was not chock-a-block behind him, his standing in the polls would be in single digits.

    • Mike Shackleton

      Victoria is about to introduce caps on political donations lower the reporting threshold and shorten the timeframe between donation and reporting. While I think this is a good thing, I suspect sales of brown paper bags in Victoria are about to escalate!

  • Robert Comerford

    I would have thought that state conservatives would have distanced themselves from the federal party on this issue Seems they are not very smart.

  • Chris Jones

    The Vic Libs threat to block this legislation may be empty. The Libs have to convince both the Sex party member and the vote 1 local jobs member to get a majority in the upper house. We can assume the greens will vote yes. The Nationals will vote no doubt vote no. The shooters, fishers, and farmers tend to be right wing and will vote no despite wind and solar becoming important to farmers these days.