I welcome the chance to talk on this very important topic. Last month I was pleased to have the chance to visit Leeson Group in my electorate. Leeson run a thriving business advancing solar technology and solar farms. Their vision is for Australians to have an abundance of financially accessible energy as we transcend into a future that is no longer harming our planet. It’s wonderful to see this innovation and new technology being driven locally within Jagajaga.
But let’s be honest: this work is happening despite this government and not because of it and its policy settings. The so-called technology road map is a road to nowhere. There’s no destination because there’s no target. Australia is now the only developed country to not have committed to reaching net zero by 2050, all because the Prime Minister can’t convince his own backbench to set ideology aside and focus on the jobs of the future. There are some recent clear examples of this. Just last week, the resources minister vetoed public funding for a wind farm and battery project in Northern Queensland, because, apparently, the technology road map does not involve supporting renewable energy and the much-needed jobs that come with it. The proponents of this particular project say it will create 247 construction jobs and five ongoing positions. But the minister says support for the project would be inconsistent with the objectives and policies of the Commonwealth government.
Well, Deloitte estimates more than 250,000 Australian jobs can be created as we transition to a clean energy economy. These are the jobs that the government is actively blocking with decisions like the one I’ve just mentioned. They are the job opportunities that will potentially pass Australia by because this government does not have a genuine plan and a target to support them. Last night’s budget was another massive missed opportunity from this government: nothing new on renewables, nothing new on electricity storage, no mention of electric vehicles, nothing for the urgent grid upgrades we need to take advantage of renewables in our system, and no commitment to net zero by 2050. This is a government driven by dangerous ideology, and we are all suffering because of it.
Labor gets it. We know that Australia can be a renewable energy superpower. Our $15 billion national reconstruction fund will allow us to partner with private capital to promote manufacturing and strategic industries, with low-emissions technologies and renewables manufacturing highlighted as a key priority for that investment. What a clear contrast from what we see from this government. They’re blocking; we’re seeking to invest in these new technologies. We’re seeking to create the jobs we need as we come out of this pandemic, while also investing in a clean energy future for all of us. There is our rewiring the nation policy, transforming our ageing electricity grid, so we can get renewable energy to where it is needed and, once again, create jobs—create the jobs that will be there in the future; our $200 million investment in 400 community batteries so that more people across Australia can benefit from solar; and our tax cuts that will make electric vehicles cheaper, along with the commitment to develop Australia’s first electric vehicle strategy. We have seen nothing of this scale from the other side—no mention in the budget. Just a technology road map that takes us nowhere.
I have conversation after conversation in my electorate with people who feel almost despondent about where we are nationally on climate change. They feel like we are caught in an endless cycle where this government, driven by ideology and by wanting to have a culture war over how we address climate change, refuses to take the steps that are necessary. I tell them it is difficult. It is really difficult that the Morrison government are not taking the action that we need and are not committing to a net zero target by 2050. One of the things that concern me and that I know concern them most about that is that we are falling further and further behind the rest of the developed world. Our trading partners have these commitments, and they will start penalising us for not having them as well.