Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister questioned on wind energy

As promised, Yes 2 Renewables is keeping up pressure on Victorian politicians when it comes to state wind energy policy.

WindFarmA fortnight ago, it was at the Rural Press Club, where we questioned leader of the opposition Daniel Andrews on Labor’s position on the government’s anti-wind farm policy. This week it was at the 8th Australian Wind Energy 2012 conference, where shadow energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio branded the Baillieu government’s wind planning laws “extreme.” Y2R kicked off a Q&A session with shadow energy spokesperson, Lily D’Ambrosio.

Leigh Ewbank, Yes 2 Renewables community coordinator:

Two weeks ago in Ballarat while addressing the Rural Press Club, opposition leader Daniel Andrews commented on Labor’s track record on wind energy while in government. Will the repeal of the 2 kilometre setback and other VC82 measures be on the table in terms of Labor’s forthcoming renewable energy policy?

Lily D’Ambrosio, opposition energy spokesperson:

Our statement is very clear. Whatever the nature of our final policy, it will be one that will allowa wind energy development to occur. I really can’t say more than that. I understand the views of many in the community. Friends of the Earth, I certainly understand the view of that organisation and the people you represent. We need to ensure that we have good dialogue right across the key stakeholders into the future. You can be confident in the knowledge that [Labor’s] policy will be far better that what we have at the moment for promoting wind energy.

Conference participant: 

What does Labor think of local content as a policy initiative?

Lily D’Ambrosio:

In the jobs and investment plan that was released a couple of weeks ago there was a commitment made to local content… Certainly we’re supportive of that as a broad policy. How that will be applied is something that we will develop clear details on closer to the election. We’re on the record as of two weeks ago that [Labor] support local content at the level of 10 percent that we’ve struck at this stage.

Conference organiser:

I’m reminded of a study that Harvard University released last year talking about the adverse impacts of coal mining and coal-fired generating capacity. It’s very easy for a very small vocal minority to undermine wind as a development, it’s easy to stop development, but the reality is that every year Victoria has hundreds of millions of tonnes of pollution pumped into our atmosphere courtesy of the brown coal generators. Is there more opportunity to raise the negative side of the alternative?

Lily D’Ambrosio:

It’s an interesting coupling if you like of those two issues. There’s a great perversity in the fact that we’ve got some very extreme planning laws that apply to the cleanest, one of the cleanest forms of energy which is wind and a veto right to individuals where, really, none exists when it comes to the other side (fossil fuels). That’s a perversity that needs to be reconciled, I suggest.

Certainly I think you’re right, there is greater opportunity for us to make more of the discourse about the comparison of those two points. I spent a lot of time talking about investment and jobs, but what is highly valued and continues to be highly valued, is the fact that people desperately do want and accept the need for clean energy into the future. And people understand that clean energy is not just, I suppose, a fringe issue. It’s certainly a mainstream issue. I know that groups like Friends of the Earth foe example, want to make sure that these things are mainstream issues, and that’s why we now have a wind alliance (Vic Wind) that tales on board and is attempting to group together a lot of different parts of the community, a lot of different stakeholders, right across the mainstream.

There’s more work that needs to be done to put that up front and centre, that [clean energy] is about what a lot of families and communities want ,and  that is, and environment that is much much healthier and cleaner.

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