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21 June 2023, 11:02
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan):

I rise to speak to the Energy and Resources Legislation Amendment (Transition Away from Coal) Bill 2023 on behalf of Legalise Cannabis Victoria. Let me start by complementing the government on their progress in this area. Credit where credit is due – it is easy for someone like me, on the crossbench, to speak of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2023 without carrying the burden of implementation. So for this government to commit to a real-world 95 per cent renewable energy target by 2035 is significant and nation leading. However, does that mean we should not make every effort to do better? I say no. There is no more significant or important issue in our time than the threat of climate change. We must be ambitious in our target setting. The forecasts are devastating and the requirement to act urgent. We cannot forget for a second that restoring a safe climate now is the number-one priority of our generation. We must include a fast transition to zero emissions. We recognise that this bill takes that important step to addressing the urgent climate crisis we face and to encouraging further ambition in the government’s renewable energy transition. This bill does this through a plan to legislate a 100 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, prohibiting any licence to engage in thermal coal activity, prohibiting the exploration for, or mining of, coal and entrenching this prohibition in the state’s constitution. We support these concepts in principle and acknowledge the urgent need to transition to renewable energy, including the role that Victoria has to play nationally and internationally to support this transition.

It is also concerning to us that at a time when this government is championing the efforts to reduce its reliance on non-renewable energy, it is still actively mining and burning brown coal for hydrogen and export. Carbon capture and storage is not foolproof technology. The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain may sound good on paper, but we believe it will only go to increasing Victoria’s emissions at a time when we should instead be doing all we can to decrease them.

During a climate crisis we should not be actively expanding our brown coal industry domestically and internationally while also throwing taxpayer money at speculative hydrogen projects. Rather we should focus on the needs of a just transition and build a sustainable future for Victoria. We should lead by example and support our international partners as they also transition away from non-renewables. We owe it to future generations of Victorians. They deserve to be safe and enjoy their natural environment in the same way we are gifted the opportunity to do. Addressing the climate emergency is one of Legalise Cannabis Victoria’s six key policy areas, so anything that stands to improve our position we will support. As such, Legalise Cannabis Victoria will be lending its support to this bill.

[ENDS]

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