Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (19:04): (6398) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to come to my electorate, particularly the area south of Sale, and explain to my constituents what it is that she intends to do as part of these new renewable energy zones. The reason I seek this is that the minister announced the renewable energy zones in the 2020–21 budget, so in November 2020, yet there are many, many constituents in my electorate who have no idea what they actually mean and we have not seen the minister even attempt to come to my electorate and explain it.
Why is this important? At the moment we have AusNet Services proposing a new 500-kilovolt transmission line to the Giffard area, south of Sale in my electorate, which will hook up with Hazelwood, and that is causing significant consternation. Partly that is because people do not necessarily know what it actually entails. We know of a proposed 500-megawatt solar farm in the Giffard area, which is fantastic—if it happens. There are some offshore wind proposals. There are some onshore wind proposals—again that are not publicly known. But the offshore wind proposals are very exciting. The Star of the South is the furthest advanced and is certainly a very exciting project. We have got Flotation Energy’s Seadragon project and the Greater Gippsland offshore wind project, and I understand there are another two, at least, off the Ninety Mile Beach which are proposed. Now, if all these offshore wind farms and solar farms go ahead, that will be fantastic for my area, and I think broadly speaking my community will welcome them. But what is happening at the moment is we have AusNet proposing this transmission line. They have literally knocked on the doors of 48 landholders between Giffard and the Hazelwood switching yard, and those people, naturally, are not terribly excited and are not keen to facilitate AusNet’s proposed transmission line.
I think it really is incumbent on the government, having announced these renewable energy zones and having supported financially three of the offshore wind farms proposed, for the minister to actually come to my electorate and talk to my community. I am not opposing the renewable energy zones. I think there are some really exciting developments for us in offshore wind, in solar and in hydrogen potentially as well. I am not so excited about onshore wind—that is a different story—but the minister should be coming and talking to people about what the implications are, how we can get involved in the benefits and also how the government is going to manage the negative impacts, which could include these new transmission lines that are proposed. I think it is a dereliction of duty what the minister and the government have done so far in announcing these proposals and then walking away and not actually engaging the community. I ask her to come to my electorate, talk to my community and help us understand what is proposed.