I would respond to the member for Canberra. I don’t see any wind towers within Canberra at this point in time.
I’m sure that you would welcome them here. I would also remind the member for Canberra that Australia’s contribution to omissions is one per cent; in fact, it’s less than that.
The key enabler of renewable energy projects are transmission lines. I was proud to support Mallee residents visiting Canberra today who met with members from both sides of the House and the Senate to make their voices heard on the VNI West transmission project in my electorate.
As the member for Mallee, it’s my job to ensure that my community is seen and heard and listened to. I am very, very concerned that this Labor government is simply not interested in listening to farmers and regional communities.
These custodians of the land, and I’m referring to the farmers, are threatened by the Albanese government’s race to a political target of 82 per cent renewable generation by 2030.
At federal and state levels, Labor have enabled renewable energy providers to abandon any social license—and they ought to be ashamed—and run roughshod over farmers in my electorate of Mallee and beyond.
Farmers and landholders are giving that clear feedback to my electorate office and they have given it to the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer.
The VNI West project runs through Mallee and people’s homes, and a classic example is Matthew McLoughlan from Charlton.
The VNI West threatens his farm and his family home. Imagine if his home was in suburban Melbourne or Sydney or Canberra. In fact, his family’s home is historically significant.
The 125-year-old mudbrick home was also the childhood home of World War I hero and former Victorian Senator Harold Edward ‘Pompey’ Elliott.
Matt has been raising the agricultural impacts and heritage impacts of the VNI West proposal, but the proponent, Transmission Company Victoria, TCV, has given him jargonistic answers and tokenistic consultation. This is a picture that I would say is happening across Mallee and not just Mallee. Matt’s family are in despair, and they are not the only ones in Mallee who will have to abandon their family home.
The Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO, and TCV, in AEMO’s unique Victorian arrangement, have been emboldened by the Albanese Labor government and energy minister, Chris Bowen. Their actions are in lockstep with the government’s Rewiring the Nation plan.
This morning, I supported a delegation of Mallee farmers meeting Minister Bowen, including Kanya’s Marcia McIntyre, Ben Duxson, Glenden Watts, Gerald Feeny and Alex Matthews from the Southern Wimmera Renewables Research Association. Many of these Mallee locals drove for about eight hours to get to Canberra.
That is how passionate they are about this topic.
The Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, reviewed community engagement efforts by transmission and energy project proponents in regional communities. Farmers and farming communities have very strong bulldust detectors.
In effect, Mallee residents and other regional communities nationwide have collectively told Commissioner Dyer they feel like they have been buried in bulldust. Here are some statistics from the report: 92 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with the level of engagement; 85 per cent were dissatisfied with the developer’s explanations in response to their questions; 89 per cent of respondents said they received information irrelevant to the concerns they raised; and 93 per cent of respondents did not see their concerns satisfactorily answered.
Abysmal community consultation and a ham-fisted handling of social licence is why farmers in Mallee started protesting, with my support, in St Arnaud; in Horsham, when the Prime Minister visited; on the steps of state parliament in Melbourne; and today a number were in the crowd outside Parliament House here.
Many landholders involved in the wind turbine negotiations do not realise it can cost up to $600,000 to decommission each turbine, and they will be holding that bill.