Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

State Electricity Commission


State Electricity Commission

David HODGETT (Croydon) (14:07): My question is to the minister for the SEC. I refer the minister to concerns expressed by Dr Alan Finkel that the SEC owning and controlling future renewable energy infrastructure in this state could undermine private sector investment, stating:

You don’t want to crowd out private sector funding as we make this important but complex transition …

Does the minister agree with Dr Finkel’s concerns?

Lily D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park – Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for the State Electricity Commission) (14:08): I thank the member for his question. It is not unanticipated, to be honest, because, look, they are quite predictable on that side. They predictably lose elections, they predictably do not learn from the election results and of course the member cannot be more wrong than what they are in terms of what Dr Alan Finkel said.

Members interjecting.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: Well, the context is everything here, including an election result that actually put you back in your context well and truly: they voted for the return of the SEC. They voted for the return of the SEC. We sought the cream of national leaders for our expert advisory panel to establish the SEC, making sure that we get the investment mandate right, making sure that we get the scope, if you like, of the SEC –

John Pesutto interjected.

The SPEAKER: Order! Leader of the Opposition, you are not immune from being removed from the chamber, and I do ask you to listen to my rulings about speaking across the table.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: Thank you very much, Speaker. Can I just say that the energy transition is big. The energy transition is complex, and this government knows how complex it is, but we get on and get it done. And that is why Dr Finkel is not incorrect when it comes to the scope of the work that needs to be done to get renewable energy built here in Victoria.

Mark my words, the SEC will be driving the biggest investment in new energy that the whole country will see right here in Victoria – 59,000 jobs, including 6000 apprenticeships and traineeships, creating the new energy of the future. Let me share something; let me share some pearls of wisdom with those opposite. There is going to be so much work in this state, where we continue to this very day having investors – private sector investors – coming to our state, saying, ‘We want to invest more in your state because we know that the degree of your ambition means that we are absolutely welcome. Our investment dollars are absolutely welcome in this state.’ But let me be really, really clear on this front – yes, Mr Pesutto, listen and learn something, mate, rather than talking across the table, undermining the women who get up here. I digress because you lot over there are one big digression.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier will come to order. The member for Sunbury can leave the chamber for 1 hour.

Member for Sunbury withdrew from chamber.

James Newbury: On a point of order, Speaker, I am sure we all hoped that the adoption of the sessional orders would have improved the debate in the chamber during question time, but sadly, sadly, that appears not to be the case. I would ask you to ask the minister to stop debating the question and to call the Premier to order for his behaviour across the chamber.

Mary-Anne Thomas: On the point of order, Speaker, there is no point of order, I am sure, and I hope that you will agree that the minister was directly responding to the question. If only those on the other side would be quiet, then they would hear exactly what the minister was saying.

The SPEAKER: The minister was being relevant to the question. Before I let the minister continue, can I ask the members at the table to be respectful of those on their feet.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: This government is absolutely proud of the investment and the relationship that we have built up through our ambitious renewable energy targets. From the day the Andrews Labor government was elected the door has been open to that investment, and we are leading the country in that investment, unlike those opposite, who shut it down. Not one job came out of the renewable energy decisions that they made. We continue to lead the way. We are going to have a bonanza of renewable energy jobs, and the SEC will be driving that every step of the way.

David HODGETT (Croydon) (14:13): Does the minister also agree with Dr Finkel’s comments that:

There is a role for gas in providing firming capacity during these transition years …

Lily D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park – Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources, Minister for the State Electricity Commission) (14:13): I thank the member for the supplementary question, but if he wants to start playing these games I would like them to put on the record whether they actually have any ambition in the management or the transition of our renewable energy sector other than fracking.

James Newbury: On a point of order, Speaker, the minister was asked a very direct question, which was simply a quote. There was no debate in the question; it was simply a quote. I would ask you to draw the minister back to the question.

The SPEAKER: The minister was being relevant, and she was providing context.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: Thank you very much, Speaker. Look, I will be really clear, and those who want to learn may actually do well from learning from this side of the house. When it comes to a transition, it is a complex process, one that requires commitment, diligence and top-level advice from a range of fantastic people who absolutely endorse and embrace the opportunity to be part of this expert panel. We will get it done. We know that we need to decarbonise our energy system. As we have always said, this does not happen in one day. Some people like to talk about it happening in one day, others do not want it to happen at all and just want to frack our environment.

James Newbury: On a point of order, Speaker, again on the response not being direct: the minister, you ruled, had been providing context. We are now three-quarters of the way through the answer, and we have not got anywhere near a response to the direct question in relation to whether the minister agrees with the quote provided to her.

The SPEAKER: The minister was being relevant in her answer to your question. I cannot direct the minister to answer the question the way you want her to.

Lily D’AMBROSIO: Only Labor can be trusted to deliver the transition that is well and truly underway, creating those thousands of jobs, reducing our emissions and reducing energy prices for Victorians. Victorians voted resoundingly in November for our government to continue to do this work.