A candidates forum held in Melbourne last night saw two Victorian Labor shadow ministers in the hot seat: Lily D’Ambrosio the Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources, and Lisa Neville, Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
The Victorian Labor shadow ministers reaffirmed the party is ‘in the business of growing renewable energy’ and didn’t rule out adopting a Victorian Renewable Energy Target.
The Labor restated its commitment to restoring the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) and abolish the anti-wind farm laws, at the forum, and pledged to release details of its highly-anticipated renewable energy strategy before polling day.
The audience was eager for assurances on climate policy, namely the establishment of an Renewable Energy Target for the state. The shadow ministers responded that Labor was open to a Renewable Energy Target but emphasised that federal constitutional laws were an obstacle. This claim to a “constitutional problem” was received as a weak qualification, since SA and ACT both have successful RETs in place.
Questions about the Renewable Energy Target from the audience were specific and demanding: “What will the target be and when will it be set?” D’Ambrosio and Neville explained that due to federal constitutional laws, a state scheme would not be able to bind corporations. D’Ambrosio however, did assert that if the Victorian Labor party was elected they could “find a way around [the laws].”
Coal was also a hot topic for eager questioners, after neither minister mentioned the word during their respective speeches. Regarding the Labor party’s policy on coal and coal seam gas (CGS), D’Amrbosio referred to the ALPs recent fight against CSG and their role in obtaining a moratorium on fracking. The minister stressed that the ALP would proceed with robust and transparent policy on CSG that prioritised health and safety for the community.
On the question of new mines however, the ministers hesitated to make clear statements.
Queries from the Yes 2 Renewables coordinator solicited advice from the ministers: What could those present do to get a strong renewable energy policies adopted by the Labor party? D’Ambrosio assured the audience that the Labor party needed no persuasion on the topic of renewables, that if elected, goals and directions would be clearly outlined.
Representatives from Surf Coast Air Action group also made a presence, asking for guarantee on the future of the Anglesea Power Station. The ministers responded with a promise that measures would be taken to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the plant.
At the end of the night, the shadow ministers forecast a stark choice for voters in the upcoming election. Compared with the Coalition’s negligence on climate change and renewable energy, Labor was adamant and committed to making Victoria the leading state for renewable energy.
Yes 2 Renewables will be keeping a close on the Victorian Labor party and await the release of its renewable energy strategy.
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