Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Grievance debate

State Electricity Commission

State Electricity Commission

Nina TAYLOR (Albert Park) (17:45): My grievance tonight – I think many have shared in this grievance over and over and over again – is that Kennett sold the SEC in 1994. And let me tell you it is not only my colleagues, fair and square. When I went doorknocking through the election, door after door after door, they were so relieved that we are bringing back the SEC – over and over again. The electorate wanted it, and that is why they voted us back. This is a big part of why we are back in. So the electorate knows; it is a pity those opposite have not got the gist. They have not read the room yet. It is about time they did. Knock, knock – the electorate have spoken. They have fully endorsed the SEC, so you might want to consider coming on board. But if you do not, we will do it anyway because we know it is the right thing to do – it is absolutely the right thing to do.

I am just going to express a little further that grievance, that very strong element to do with Kennett selling off the SEC. Since then prices increased, workers were sacked, energy companies made huge profits and power bills skyrocketed. So what did that deliver the electorate? It delivered them a lemon. That is what they did: they delivered a lemon. So it is right and proper and timely that we restore the faith of the Victorian community and we bring back the SEC. But as I say, even if those opposite are not prepared to read the room and are not prepared to move with the times and go with the electorate and what they voted for, we will do it – guaranteed – because we deliver. We make promises and we deliver. So they might want to learn a thing or two. I am just putting it out there – just something to consider.

We know that privatisation of the SEC started a flow-on effect that drove up power prices and energy vulnerability in this state. Retail electricity prices increased by 34.1 per cent under the previous Liberal government – quarter 4 2010 versus quarter 3 2014. That is not good. Privatisation hurt people. And I do not know about you, but time and time again I have heard the stories of those who lost their jobs. There are people in this chamber who had parents who lost their jobs as well – dreadful. And did it deliver us greater efficiency, greater service and all the things that we might have been sold when they were talking about this wonderful proposition of privatisation, this beautifully creative lateral solution? What did it deliver? At the end of the day, it delivered a lemon. We know that it is right and proper and it is time for Labor to restore the faith of the Victorian people and bring back the SEC.

Now, you will note I am repeating this element a little bit, but it is because I am so excited about this proposition. In fact when the announcement was made I shed a tear because I knew what it meant for the Victorian people. I know what it also means in terms of securing our future, making sure that we put downward pressure on power prices and also helping support the best possible outcomes for our environment. We do have good form when it comes to reform of environmental measures, because we have been cutting emissions well ahead of this transformation, and this is just an extra support along the way in terms of cutting emissions and the beautiful transition to clean energy for Victoria. Actually it is a renewable revolution. It is a renewable revolution, and it is what the people want.

Victoria is unequivocally the country’s leader in climate action, and I am very proud about that. But those opposite know that Victorians love a clean energy transition – this is what the people want – so now again they kind of pretend. They pretend that they also could deliver on that, but in their hearts, when push comes to shove, they do not have the ticker for it. So it is up to us to deliver on this. I do not know about you, but I remember many, many years ago when the Libs were last in they absolutely crippled the wind industry. Do you remember that?

A member: Oh, yes. It was shocking.

Nina TAYLOR: It was shocking. And I was thinking, ‘How could they allow this to happen?’ It was absolutely appalling.

Well, thankfully when Labor got back in they fixed the problem, because we knew better. We know what Victorians want: they want clean energy. We know that it is cheaper as well. It makes good economic sense. And that is the other thing that I do not understand with the opposition: not only why they do not have the same passion and the same desire to back clean energy but also why they do not recognise the economic benefits of the transition. I mean, why don’t they? I cannot work it out myself. I am staggered. Anyway, never mind. I do not know. You can ponder and ponder, but we might never get there. But we are not ones to just ponder – we do things, we deliver. So that is all good. There is no need to labour that point, but I am just putting it out there in any case.

So what do we have in Victoria? Well, we have world-leading emissions reduction targets of 75 to 85 per cent by 2035 – this is absolutely fantastic – and we are bringing net zero to 2045 and leading the world, aligning Victoria to the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is the right thing to do, we know, for the children and their future as well. So we are not thinking only about this generation and ourselves, we are thinking about subsequent generations. Don’t you find when you go to primary schools et cetera that the kids are all over this? They know it. It is just a pity the opposition do not; I do not know why. The kids have got it, their teachers have got it, and they take it on board. They want a beautiful, clean energy future. So come with us on the journey. I know you want to. Well, I do not know, because –

Tim Richardson: The member for Brighton does.

Nina TAYLOR: Well, he might. He might; I do not know – maybe. But they have had a dubious record when it comes to fracking, haven’t they? They have had all sorts of positions on that. How many positions have they had on that? I do not know. It is pretty ordinary. We again, left to Labor, have enshrined it in the constitution, because that was the right thing to do.

Alison Marchant interjected.

Nina TAYLOR: Yes, absolutely. Yes. But it is good for not only people in the city but also people in regional and rural areas, because we know how damaging fracking can be for agricultural land and for the groundwater. So the other part of this conversation that I just do not understand is why anyone would want to back in fracking if they also claim to support the farmers.

A member: It is a step backwards.

Nina TAYLOR: Yes, it is a step backwards. The two do not go together. So it really is baffling. But in any case, not to worry, because Labor came to the rescue. As I said, we enshrined a ban on fracking in the constitution. It was the right and proper thing to do. It is what Victorians wanted. It is what they still want. You know, we backed it in, and at the election they voted accordingly – happy days. It always comes back to Labor to be able to move forward, to innovate and to do the right thing when it comes to not only the environment but putting downward pressure on power prices and cutting emissions, and this is absolutely going to be a ripper for Victoria.

I should say, with the targets that we have Victoria’s economy will be decarbonising at one of the fastest rates anywhere in the world – anywhere in the world. That is mind blowing. But that is who we are, that is who Victorians are – we are ahead of the game. I was going to swear there, but I am not going to do that. It is magnificent. I managed to avert that calamity, so I am very happy about that. And we will deliver 59,000 jobs along the way, because this is the other thing with Labor –it is always a holistic approach. It is not just cutting emissions, it is not just bringing back the SEC, we also deliver jobs, because we understand that to drive a good economy people have to have jobs in order to be able to afford to buy things. Is that not true? Yes, that is right. It is a cycle, so we need to support the whole process, and that is what Labor does. It is just simply who we are.

I should say another thing I am really, really proud of, and I am sure my colleagues will share this as well, is that we have the strongest climate change legislation in the country. I am not sure that it is always recognised just how significantly advanced we are in this space, hence all the more reason to talk about it today, because I think the community should be really proud of these advancements. They voted for it; they are part of this story. Victorians voted overwhelmingly for the next steps in our ambitious agenda. We are united, are we not?

I should say, talking about where we are at – because that is really important too; it is all good and well to talk about the future, but where are we at now? – we have cut emissions by 29.8 per cent since 2005. Yes, it is true. And since 2014 we have cut emissions by – get this – more than any other state, absolutely kicking goals. Again, Victorians should be proud because they are part of the solution. They are coming along with it. What about the Solar Homes program? They bought into that. They absolutely are part of that journey and part of that story, and I am so proud of them getting on board.

James Newbury interjected.

Nina TAYLOR: He is trying hard. A little bit of poetic licence over there – that is nice, that is okay. Yes, you can try. And I should say we have delivered the largest annual increase in renewable generation of any state – again kicking goals; that is Victorians; fantastic – ever, with renewable generation growing by, get this, 3.6 terawatt hours in 2021. I am so proud of that.

A member: It’s a lot.

Nina TAYLOR: It is enormous, isn’t it. It is huge. Terawatt – I mean, that is huge in anyone’s language. It is magnificent. This is something we should be really proud of. And we are unequivocal; this is the other point. We do not waver. We do not have multiple positions when it comes to transitioning to a cleaner energy economy. That is right – a cleaner energy economy. That is true. Yes, absolutely. I do not know what I was thinking there, but anyway. Yes, we should be really proud of it. Unequivocal in our commitment to action on climate change – that is right. We do not waver for a second. We move forward steadily, and you can see the incremental benefit for our state and ultimately benefits that will flow on for the country as well.

But the difference is with Labor we do not just talk about it, do we. We take it seriously, and we are delivering, because you can talk and talk and talk and say all sorts of things and pretend you are one thing for an election, hoping to get some votes over there and here – no, we actually have to deliver, and we do. Our targets are delivering the most rapid reduction of emissions in Australia, unlocking billions of dollars – get this, again the economic benefits; oh my goodness, so wonderful – of investment and creating thousands of jobs. So you can see that thing; we are coming back to that holistic approach of a Labor government.

And get this, I am going to drill down a bit further. It is so good, and Victorians deserve to know about it: we are investing almost $2 billion in programs to reduce emissions. Yes, not just talk, we are walking it. We are investing $1 billion to bring back the SEC and build 4.5 gigawatts – again, gigawatts; huge – of new renewable capacity. We have set a nation-leading offshore wind target. Oh, I am so excited about offshore wind. Is that not exciting? I mean, again we are innovating. We do not just sit on our laurels and hope and pray that maybe the emissions will go down; we actually do something about it. So we have set a nation-leading offshore wind target that will produce 2 gigawatts of offshore wind, and that will come online by 2032, 4 gigawatts by 2035 and 9 gigawatts by 2040. You might say, ‘Oh, that’s thinking a long way into the future’ – exactly. You have to do the work now if you are going to get there, and that is exactly what we are doing. The transition is happening as we speak, but we cannot just wait till 2040 and hope; we have actually got to deliver. So this will ensure that Victoria is – get this – the home of offshore wind, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs and drive billions of dollars of investment.

If that is not a carrot for the opposition to consider the changes that we are making – and we will make them with or without those opposite, let us be clear; I have already stated that today, but it is important to reiterate that. They can come on this journey, reducing emissions, putting downward pressure on power prices, bringing back the SEC, or not read the room. Two choices – either way, as you see fit. And I should say at the end of last year Australia’s first offshore wind zone was declared off the coast of Gippsland. Yay! We are really moving forward.

And I think I have got just enough time to say that we have announced six new solar projects that will help us power 100 per cent of government operations on renewable energy, from police stations to hospitals, metro trains to trams. That is sensational, is it not? I am excited! It does not take a lot – you mention any reduction in emissions and I am there, but these are really significant. We are really moving forward. I am really proud of Victorians. We continue on this journey together. Happy days.

Question agreed to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call the Clerk, I would like to acknowledge in the gallery the former member for Footscray and former minister, Marsha Thomson; former Mordialloc member Janice Munt; we have the federal member for Macnamara, Josh Burns; the federal member for Hawke, Sam Rae; the former minister and member for Southern Metropolitan, Philip Dalidakis; and former minister and member for Lara, John Eren – welcome back. Former Senator Conroy as well, my apologies.