Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (20:06): Thank you Deputy Speaker. What a momentous day. I could not be prouder to stand here today in support of the Climate Change Bill 2022. Finally, after a decade of inaction, we might finally see our country start to seize on all the opportunities our transition to a renewable energy future has to offer. We will finally take meaningful action to address climate change. I know this will be welcome in my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast. Because climate change isn’t something that will, maybe, perhaps happen in the future. It is something that is happening right now. It is something that has happened, that we are experiencing.
My electorate has been directly impacted by the last decade of inaction on climate change. Because what does a changing climate mean? It means more extreme weather. And boy, have we had some extreme weather. Just in my time as Member for Gilmore, in the last three years, my electorate has been severely hurt by drought. We have been severely hurt by record-breaking bushfires. We have been severely hurt by a seemingly never-ending sequence of disaster-declared floods. One after another. Our communities are seeing climate change firsthand. They are feeling the hurt right now. The impacts on our health. They are seeing the environmental degradation from these disasters, an ecosystem that can barely cope and will have trouble renewing after such devastating loss and damage.
The State of the Environment Report that the Minister released only recently shows that – the 2019-20 bushfires have had a lasting impact on our environment, on our biodiversity. And it is struggling to bounce back. Local people in my electorate don’t need to be told that – they see it every day. And they want something done.
Our communities want us to take action now to help them better prepare for these events. They want to be made more resilient, with an energy system that can withstand challenges. Things like community batteries, like the one I promised at Maloneys Beach. Because during the bushfires Deputy Speaker, so much of the South Coast lost power all together. It’s one of the biggest anxieties I hear from people about our disaster preparedness - what happens when the power goes out. It’s not just about keeping the lights on. When the power goes out, all too often communications aren’t far behind. We lose landlines, sometimes we lose mobile phone reception. Even if we don’t lose reception – if the power stays out, eventually the mobile phones will go out too.
We need batteries to help provide that resilience, that security. So I am so excited to deliver that battery for Maloneys Beach and I hope to work on even more batteries across the South Coast. But the point is, Deputy Speaker, the people of my electorate have had enough of the wasted opportunities. What do they want to see? They want to see us Power Australia. They want to see the New South Wales South Coast become a renewable energy powerhouse. And so do I.
That is why I am so excited today. Something that the Liberals always seem to forget when they try and paint Labor’s climate policies as some kind of boogey man – some kind of pie in the sky fantasy and the oh-so-scary “Green agenda”. What they forget Deputy Speaker is that this is about energy. This is about the absolute abundance of renewable energy opportunity that we have here in Australia that we are wasting. That we have wasted for a decade.
Well, the Albanese Labor Government wants to stop that waste, and our Powering Australia plan will do that. The Bill enshrines our 43 per cent target to reduce emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050. We hope, and I am sure from the work I have seen in my electorate already, that the commitments of our industries, of our communities, will have us see even greater reductions than this. But the modelling that we have done, shows this is what our policies will achieve. It’s a mighty goal. And I am proud of it.
Under this bill, by 2030, more than 82 per cent of the electricity we consume will be generated by renewable energy. And we will see the jobs that come with that in our renewable energy economy. That is my focus Deputy Speaker. The jobs. That’s what my electorate needs and wants. How do we take advantage of those job opportunities? We start by training the workforce.
Deputy Speaker, I was a TAFE teacher, so I know how crucial education is. Our plan will spend $100 million to train 10,000 New Energy Apprentices in the jobs of the future. Our $10 million New Energy Skills program will help to provide additional training pathways, and our investments in education and TAFE will also make a huge impact here. Young people in my community need support, they need to know they can live, learn, and work without having to move to the cities. That’s what I am working towards. Deputy Speaker I want to talk a bit about the opportunities I am most excited about for my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast. I want the South Coast to become a renewable energy powerhouse. And I am going to work every day, with the Ministers, with the community, with industry, with businesses to get this done.
Interestingly, I recently received an email from Kenneth in Culburra Beach, and I just want to read you what he said. Kenneth said: “As a Culburra Beach property owner, I have been advocating for the installation of an EV charging station in this popular seaside town. As it is only 180 kilometres from Sydney and 211 kilometres from Canberra, it is well within the range of an electric vehicle but not near enough to return on one charge. A charging station would be an excellent investment for the town encouraging sustainably minded tourists to visit in the knowledge they could recharge for travelling around the area and return. I do hope you can support the proposal.”
Well, Kenneth, under the Albanese Government, we will finally have Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy. We will double the existing investment in electric vehicle charging and establish hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, up to $500 million. The Shoalhaven actually is home to an electric charging station already, at the Silos Estate in Berry. Owner Raj told me its actually the biggest charging station in Australia, one mean feat. They have 16 charging units with 12 that are super charges – these can recharge an electric car in twenty minutes. What is one of the best things that come from the chargers? Tourists! Being a winery, this is win-win for Raj, but it is also a boon for our economy.
After years of natural disasters and COVID-19 that have kept tourists away, it is amazing to think that these renewable energy ideas could also help drive our tourism industry. Batemans Bay, in the south of my electorate, also has an electric vehicle charging station. With our investment, we can see these charging stations in even more locations, creating the electric vehicle super highways we need to move people up and down the coast – and around Australia.
Deputy Speaker, my electorate on the New South Wales South Coast also has a fabulous manufacturing industry. But that industry has been crying out for more investment, crying out for help to transition to a cleaner energy future. I am so excited to see the opportunities our $3 billion investment in the new National Reconstruction Fund will have for our community. This fund will support renewables manufacturing and low emissions technology. The South Coast has proven we want to and will innovate – I have spoken many times in this place about the biogas plants local Dairy Farms have helped to build. It’s exciting stuff – and I want to see more of it. Now, there will be energy policy certainty to support those ideas.
Deputy Speaker, there are so many fantastic ideas out there in our community on the South Coast, just itching for investment. Just waiting for a government that will take them seriously and give this country some energy policy certainty. Before the election, I held a Climate Change Forum. The South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance, affectionately known as SHASA, is one of these groups, and they were at that forum. They have been doing simply amazing work in this space for years, taking great advantage of the bits and bobs grants that have been available. Their focus has been on making the Eurobodalla more resilient – and they have helped to retrofit six community facilities into heatwave and bushfire havens. Our plan will see $300 million for community batteries and solar banks across Australia. We can support organisations like SHASA and like Repower Shoalhaven – and we can super charge it. Deputy Speaker, SHASA, they have been very busy indeed, because they have also partnered with Repower Shoalhaven to propose a pilot program of renewables and electrification of the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla.
These groups want to create jobs, they want to invest in renewables, and they want to provide power savings for local households. Deputy Speaker, there are many groups that support our Powering Australia plan. We have to get on with it.
I commend this Bill to the House.