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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8027

Mr CHEESEMAN (6:45 PM) —I rise today to speak primarily on the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and cognate bill. I believe this is a historic moment and a great opportunity for my region and for south-west Victoria. My electorate of Corangamite and south-west Victoria are uniquely placed. Running right through the middle of my electorate and south-west Victoria is an extremely well understood wind corridor. Flanked by the Otway Ranges to the south and by the northern plains to the north-west, this unique geography creates a substantial wind corridor which has been measured by numerous scientists. This wind corridor also overlays a major arm of Victoria’s power grid. Because of this situation, there is around $7 billion worth of investment in wind projects right across south-west Victoria that either have received approval or are awaiting approval. Once this legislation has been passed, as I suspect it will, I believe this level of investment will grow further because of the geographic circumstances that exist and also, importantly, because of the power grid.

I will be convening a meeting of the wind sector within my electorate in the not-too-distant future to talk about the opportunities that do exist and to point out the opportunities that will exist if this legislation is passed. Right now, there is the potential for the creation of about 2,000 construction jobs and many hundreds of ongoing jobs once this legislation is passed. But, importantly, this legislation also plays a significant role in addressing the great moral challenge of our generation—that is, climate change.

I believe that the broader Geelong region and south-west Victoria can play a leading role in capturing green jobs because of our unique set of circumstances. Not only do we have a greater opportunity to play a substantial role in the generation of wind energy but also, because of our geographic setting, we have a massive opportunity to capture geothermal energy, ocean energy and a number of other renewable energy opportunities throughout the south-west of Victoria. I note that when Germany reinforced its renewable energy laws between 2004 and 2006 it was able to increase its renewable energy workforce from 160,000 to over 236,000 people.

This legislation is not just about creating jobs but also about addressing the great risk of climate change. As I have said in the past, Victoria has very high carbon emissions proportionally and this legislation will go some way to addressing those circumstances. I believe we have a very clear moral obligation to pass this legislation—to start our contribution not only to tackling climate change but also to creating an investment opportunity within our region that can create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of ongoing jobs.

There are many places across south-west Victoria where it would be inappropriate to put wind turbines, but there are many places where there are very strong opportunities to invest in a way that will not only create jobs and reduce our carbon foot print but also provide an alternative income source to the landholders within my region. As I mentioned earlier, I will be holding a high-level forum in the not-too-distant future at which industry stakeholders, state government representatives and I will continue to explore opportunities for wind energy within my region to ensure that we are working closely to enable us to be able to deliver this investment to my region. I believe we have a moral obligation to lead. I believe this parliament will do that by passing this legislation, and I commend the bill to the House.