Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Questions without notice

State Electricity Commission


State Electricity Commission

Katie HALL (Footscray) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for the State Electricity Commission. Minister, the people of Footscray are very keen to know –

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! I would like to hear the question from the member for Footscray.

Katie HALL: Minister, the people of Footscray are very keen to know: how will the new SEC help Victoria reach its ambitious renewables and emissions targets whilst saving Victorians money on their bills?

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: The Minister for the State Electricity Commission, without assistance from the Leader of the Opposition.

Lily D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park – Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for the State Electricity Commission) (14:27): I really am delighted and thank the member for Footscray for her wonderful question. I spent quite a bit of time with the member for Footscray, and I can tell you whose side she is on when it comes to representing the good people of Footscray in terms of their cost of living and absolutely the delight that the member for Footscray had in giving the great news to her community about bringing back the SEC. This is about the very heart of affordability, the very heart of cost of living. And let me be really clear: we had the ambition, and when we have had ambition we have delivered on every ambitious program and commitment that we have made. The SEC will be no different. Of course what is really critical here is that we have wasted not a single day in getting the SEC up and running, having those informal conversations and market soundings that are kicking off in March this year.

Daniel Andrews: Ready to go.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: Ready to go. The 59,000 jobs, the lower power bills, the lower emissions, the local supply chain that is being developed – all of this will be –

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister does not require assistance to answer her question. I ask members to cease interjecting while she is on her feet.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: We know that privatisation has been a massive fail, and that is why we have not wasted a single day in bringing back the SEC. I am very pleased to update the house that just this morning with the Premier we were able to announce that six of Australia’s most pre-eminent energy, finance and engineering leaders have agreed and have actually been so excited about joining our expert advisory panel. This will guide the SEC’s work to make sure that it delivers the maximum benefits of public ownership to Victorians – 100 per cent renewable energy, absolutely. This will lower power prices, this will reduce our emissions and this will of course grow the 59,000 jobs and the 6000 apprenticeships and traineeships. All of those together will mean that Victoria will remain the leader of renewable energy for the country. We will be kicking off the formal market soundings from March. We have already had many, many informal engagements across industry, across global investors that are prepared to –

Peter Walsh: On a point of order, Speaker, I just wonder if the minister could inform those very good people of Footscray as to when their bills might actually go down.

The SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: The power saving bonus, Solar Homes, the solar hot water – we have wasted no time over the last eight years in delivering bill savings. All they have been able to deliver, those on that side, are massive job losses, privatisation that has taken $23 billion of profits offshore and record disconnections under Kennett. And guess what – those opposite that were part of the Baillieu government delivered double disconnections for Victorians during their term, and some of them are still sitting over there. They are absolutely addicted to privatisation.

But let us get on with the great news. We have got a $424 million training and skills package for people today to move into renewable energy, but also our young people – the future – have a future in the SEC. Thousands of people were trained and had apprenticeships. They are fantastic jobs – lifelong jobs, many of them. You cannot do that from privatised assets – you cannot do it. That is why the SEC is coming back: not only of course to lead the way, as we have been, to meet our nation-leading renewable energy target – 95 per cent renewals by 2035, net zero emissions by 2045 – but this state is also leading the way in decarbonising our energy system and making sure every single Victorian gets a stake in that future. The stake in this future is about public ownership of electricity generation, the skills that come with that, the apprenticeships that come with that, the 59,000 jobs, the lower power bills. We know if you leave it to the private market, they will have scarcity of energy, and when you have scarcity of energy, you have got higher prices and you have got higher profits – not for Victorians but for the mates that those over there look after every single day.

Make no mistake, we are absolutely getting on with it. There are some who are addicted to privatisation. Then there are those on this side who are bringing back the SEC. Every single day the more energy we have in our system – that will be driven by the SEC – the more it will drive down the power of electricity and of course deliver bill savings for every Victorian. It is no wonder that in November Victorians voted for a return of the Andrews Labor government, because they voted for a return of the SEC, and that is exactly what we are going to be delivering: lower power bills, more jobs, lower emissions – yesterday, today and every day into the future.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the member for Lowan can I acknowledge the former MP for Dandenong and former minister the Honourable John Pandazopoulos in the gallery.