I thank the member for Wide Bay for his motion, although I join the member for Indi in questioning his motives in putting this motion forward.

The motion leads with transmission lines, and I will talk about those in a moment, but buried near the end of this motion, it calls on the government to conduct a feasibility study into a future sustainable energy source. Guess what that source might be? It’s nuclear! What a surprise. I think perhaps the member for Wide Bay has been channelling the other O’Brien in the building, the member for Fairfax, because we know that the member for Fairfax has an unhealthy obsession with nuclear, despite all the experts telling us that it is not the solution for Australia, that in fact the method being proposed by the coalition doesn’t even exist in technology. Yet it is the obsession that we hear over and over again from the member for Fairfax and now, it seems, from the member for Wide Bay. It also, of course, conveniently forgets all the forms of renewable energy in which the experts tell us Australia can be a leader, Australia can be a renewable energy superpower.

At the heart of all of this is the need to deal with climate change. Australians and this government know we need to be taking action right now to limit the impact of climate change on our world. Australians know we need to be serious about climate action, and that’s why 18 months ago they elected our government, to be serious about the challenges that climate change is creating in our communities, to get real and to take real action. Our government has been doing exactly that.

We know that transmission lines are significant infrastructure. They are also absolutely essential to Australia’s energy grid and building our energy grid toward zero emissions. It is important that we listen to community concerns. It is also important that we guide the transition towards our renewable energy future. We are supercharging Australia’s take-up of renewable energy, because it’s good for the climate, it’s good for jobs and it’s good for households. Emissions reduction and locking in Australia’s energy security are vital to communities across the country.

Last week, our government announced another huge step forward in this regard with the expansion of the Capacity Investment Scheme. This scheme will secure a reliable energy grid for our country, powered by cleaner, cheaper renewable energy. It makes sure that new energy projects are coming online before the old generators leave, supercharging the available power in the grid.

The closest thing those opposite have to a plan is pausing the renewable storage investment we desperately need to chase nuclear fantasies and stoking division in local communities. Unlike the coalition, our government understands Australia’s huge potential as a renewable superpower and we’re working hard to deliver on that promise. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition has always been someone who hasn’t been afraid to deploy fear to try to get what he wants. But you have to laugh a little, because in the latest frolic into offshore wind, the Leader of the Opposition has said:

When you look at the whales, and the mother and the calf that we saw out there, the dolphins – all of that is at risk because there’s no environmental consideration…

The Leader of the Opposition, now the protector of the whale calf and defender of the environment! It’s about as unbelievable as the time he told us he was going to smile more and show us his happy-go-lucky side. Australians can see right through this. Every environment group has said this is not a genuine concern. People know that the opposition is playing politics with really important issues here. Of course, when the Leader of the Opposition decided to try and position himself as the great protector of whales and their calves, he did forget a key point. As the Australian Conservation Foundation pointed out, the evidence shows that whales swim around ocean infrastructure. They’re quite clever, those whales; they’re quite smart, in fact, smarter than those opposite, it seems.

Our government will keep working with other governments at state and territory levels, with business, with industry and, most importantly, with local communities as we continue on the path to an ambitious scaling up of renewable energy. What we won’t be doing is causing mischief and spreading misinformation, as those opposite and their friends have been doing with transmission lines and with offshore wind. This is irresponsible behaviour. What we won’t be doing is selling the ridiculous idea of nuclear energy as Australia’s solution to climate change, because every expert tells us it isn’t. I’m proud to be part of a responsible government that’s doing serious and important work to address a defining challenge of our time, climate change, and to embrace a renewable future that is good for all Australians.

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