The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has highlighted the importance of a balanced transition to renewable energy and the significance of getting the transition right for the people of Gippsland South.
Speaking recently in State Parliament, and before current concern about a shortfall of gas supply, Mr O’Brien reaffirmed The Nationals’ position to support the target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. But he said that had to be managed to ensure Victorians have reliable and affordable energy through the transition.
“The need to transition to a cleaner energy future is clear, but that needs to be balanced with energy reliability and affordability and we need to inject some common sense.
“There is an unnecessary divide in the climate change discussion that has resulted in people on one side claiming every storm event is a result of climate change and others denying the phenomenon altogether.
“It is time to bring this discussion back to the centre so that a reasonable and productive conversation can take place.”
Mr O’Brien said the discussion must include the economic impact of a move to renewable energy on electorates like Gippsland South.
“Gippsland South is the home of the Longford gas plant, which produces about 90 per cent of Victoria’s natural gas supplies. Many people from my electorate are also employed by the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal mines, which still produce a huge amount of the state’s electricity.
“We do need to transition, but we do not need government – state or federal – intervening on ideological grounds to shut down industries in our regions.”
Mr O’Brien said there were many great opportunities for renewable energy projects in Gippsland, including offshore wind and hydrogen.
“I am supportive of these renewable energy projects but they need to be properly planned and implemented in consultation with local communities. New energy generation offers great job and economic opportunities for our future but it also comes with disruption to existing industries and communities. Those communities need to be listened to.”
Mr O’Brien said the importance of affordability was more evident now than ever with the Essential Services Commission (ESC) approving a 5 per cent rise in electricity prices this year.
“Political pressure for policy, such as the Greens wanting to shut down coal and gas in a matter of years is not only unrealistic, it would be enormously damaging to my community.”