Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (12:19): I just want to say a few things on this Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, not because I am particularly passionate about this piece of legislation but because I have been listening to parts of the contributions from the government members and I just want to place on record a couple of things when it comes to the energy transition. Many of those opposite are talking about it and wanting to highlight the wonderful things that apparently this government is doing. I have heard a number of them talk particularly about ‘We’re building’ – ‘we’ as in the government – ‘We’re building this particular project’ and ‘We’re building this particular battery’. I remind members opposite that most in cases it is not ‘we’. It is not the government and it is not taxpayers that are building this stuff; it is in fact the private sector. They are doing it, yes, in the context of government policy, both state and federal, but they are doing it because they see the opportunities from the commercial sphere.
The second thing that annoys me, and I know it annoys my constituents, is there is so much talk, particularly from the government and from their friends the Greens up the back, about this transition.
A member interjected.
Danny O’BRIEN: Yes, I thought that might get a mention. But everything that happens with this transition happens out there. It happens out there somewhere else, not in the electorates of Mordialloc, South Barwon, Eltham or any of those. It happens to people in my electorate in the Gippsland South area, in the area of Narracan or in the area of Polwarth. To take it to the nth degree and the actual specifics, when it comes to renewable energy, most particularly wind farms, this government has specifically precluded wind farms from being established in all the areas that the government represents – the Bass Coast, the metropolitan area, the Yarra Valley, the Mornington Peninsula, the Bellarine Peninsula.
Danny O’BRIEN: Along the coast there are one or two exceptions. I can see the member for Ripon and the member for Wendouree, but I have not heard those members speak on this issue today. Maybe they have. Constantly we are told that all of these wonderful things are happening, but no-one ever mentions the locals involved in those areas. They do not mention the people in the coal-fired power stations who are going to lose their jobs or who have lost their jobs. They do not mention the people that are having to deal with wind farms. Whether you like them or not, the fact is they divide rural communities because you end up with haves and the have-nots and people that have to put up with the visual intrusion and the noise and the like. They do not talk about the transmission lines. I do not think I have heard anyone mention the transmission lines, despite the fact that we literally had tractors on the front steps of Parliament this week.
Now, these are all things that happen. Whether you have got renewable energy, whether you have got nuclear energy or whether you have got coal, you need transmission lines, and it is not easy. But I would like the government to just sometimes acknowledge that there are people out there, and they are predominantly in the rural and regional areas of the state, that actually host this infrastructure, that actually run these power stations, that actually put up with the wind turbines and that actually have to deal with all these transitions and changes that the government likes to talk about but does not take any responsibility for.
I was at a meeting last Wednesday night at the Giffard West hall with VicGrid. To their credit VicGrid were there talking to the locals about their plans. There are a lot of people who are very stressed there. They have already got dry conditions coming on them. They had Basslink come through 20 years ago, and there was a campaign that they ultimately lost when trying to stop the pylons there. Now they have got another one. They have got uncertainty about what is happening with the offshore wind industry and where the transmission lines might go to connect that up. It would just be nice if the government members acknowledged that all of this wonderful renewable energy and this transition that is all so great – ‘We’re great. We’re doing this, and we’re doing that’ – have an impact on people. Not everyone gets caught up in the emotion and the joy of what is coming.
I missed the opportunity last sitting week, but, member for South Barwon, it is Star of the South, not star of the sea, and it is off Gippsland, not off the Bass Coast. It is off the Gippsland South coast. This is exactly the sort of thing I am talking about. We hear government members talking about all these wonderful things that their policies are driving, but they do not understand the locations, for a start, and they certainly do not understand the impacts on people.