The Andrews Labor Government’s decision to select the Port of Hastings as the construction port for offshore windfarms is a setback for Gippsland according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien said the Government’s decision to choose a major port facility outside Gippsland will significantly diminish the potential benefits of the proposed offshore wind industry to the region.
“The Government has now confirmed it will establish a Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal at the Port of Hastings, effectively turning its back on Gippsland ports such as Barry Beach which are closer to most of the proposed offshore windfarms.
“We need jobs to be created locally to help the energy transition in the Latrobe Valley and Wellington Shire. Using Barry Beach in South Gippsland for at least some of the construction, as well as ongoing operations, will help our region transition and further diversify the South Gippsland economy.
“Unlike the oil and gas industry which has a processing facility and heliport at Longford and therefore creates local jobs, offshore wind construction, operation and maintenance will require shipping from a port.
“To be utilising Hastings where effectively a whole new port facility will need to be built doesn’t seem to make much sense. Barry Beach has the land and facilities available and while it would also require upgrades and channel dredging, it is a better option if Gippsland is going to capture the benefits of this industry.
“Indeed, the steaming time from Hastings to some of the proposed sites off the Gippsland coast is as long as that to Bell Bay in Tasmania, so there is no guarantee wind farm developers will even use Hastings, meaning benefits could be lost to Victoria altogether.”
Mr O’Brien said the latest Offshore Wind Implementation Statement from the Government also highlights that additional transmission lines will be needed through Gippsland on top of that currently proposed by Ausnet Services.
“I am bemused that the Government says its VicGrid organisation is coordinating transmission for the offshore wind industry when the reality is that it is at least a year behind the private sector.
“If we are going to have to put up with overhead transmission lines through Gippsland then we want to see the benefits of the offshore windfarms and they will largely bypass us if the government persists in using the Port of Hastings.”
Mr O’Brien said it was also notable that despite being a feature of the Labor Party’s 2022 election campaign, the State Electricity Commission (SEC) did not get mentioned once in the offshore wind paper.