Press conference, Sydney

5 August 2022

CHRIS BOWEN: Well yesterday, of course, the Albanese Government passed the climate bill through the House of Representatives, a very big step towards ending the climate wars in Australia. And, again, I thank the House of Representatives for the very constructive role the majority of members played – 89 votes to 55 – to ensure the passage of the bill through the House and I look forward to the passage of the bill through the Senate when Parliament resumes. 

As we’ve said, the passage of this bill sends a message to investors in renewable energy and transmission and storage around the world that Australia is open for business to become a renewable energy powerhouse. But, also, as we’ve said, this is not the end of the work. There is much, much more to do and Australia has a lot of catching up to do on 10 years of delay, denial, and dysfunction. 

One of the key measures in getting Australia to 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030, which is the Albanese Government’s plan, will be offshore wind. We’re way behind the game, way behind the rest of the world, in producing wind off our coastline. Again, we have a lot of catching up to do. Today, getting on with the job after a big sitting fortnight, I’m announcing the next steps for the Albanese Government. Today, I’m announcing that yesterday I signed an instrument beginning the 60-day consultation process to declare the coast off Gippsland as an offshore wind zone. The area is covered by the map. You can see here for the offshore wind zone off the coast of Gippsland. 

Offshore wind is jobs rich and energy rich. It creates a lot of power and a lot of jobs. The Star of the South proposal, which would be built in the offshore wind zone off Gippsland, would create enough power for 1.2 million households or 20 per cent of Victoria’s energy needs, for example. Offshore wind is expected to create 3,000 to 8,000 job a year when it’s up and running across Australia. 

I’m also announcing today the next steps, the pathway, or the pipeline of zones that I’ll be beginning consultation on over the next 18 months at various points. The next zone that I intend and expect to be consulting off is offshore wind in the Pacific Ocean region off the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and then also off the Illawarra; the Pacific Ocean region off Portland in Victoria; the Bass Strait region off northern Tasmania; and the Indian Ocean region off Perth and Bunbury, of course, in Western Australia. These are the next zones that we’ll be beginning consultation on. 

Now, this is an important process because I want to bring communities with us on this important journey. There’ll be questions, there’ll be valid concerns, there’ll be issues that need to be worked through with communities, whether they be recreational fishers, commercial fishers, environmental issues that need to be factored in. This is exactly what will be happening over the next 60 days in Gippsland and it’s what we’ll be doing across these zones over the next 18 months. 

This is good news for these communities. A lot of jobs will be created, and these are areas undergoing economic change, as our energy system transforms. Just looking at those areas, whether it be the Hunter Valley or the Illawarra or the area off Portland for example. These are areas that are undergoing very significant jobs changes and economic change, and offshore wind will create a lot of jobs. Offshore wind turbines need a lot of maintenance. They need ships to maintain them. They need ports to keep them operating. This is good news for jobs; good news for the environment; good news for emissions reduction; good news for Australia. It’s the next important step on our transition to 82 per cent renewable energy in our National Energy Market. 

Happy to take any questions. 

JOURNALIST: Can you just explain, like, visually, how many wind turbines will there be over what sort of area? 

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, that’s the process to be worked through. This is the next step. Then, once, say, for example, Gippsland gets formally designated after 60 days of consultation, then there’ll be an opportunity for Star of the South, which is the most advanced wind farm, to then formally apply for a licence. They will be operating in that area, and, again, there’s other interests from other groups, particularly around the Hunter Valley and in the Illawarra. This is the next step for them. A wind farm can be, say, 200 turbines, but it will all depend on the various proposals that come forward. Of course, they’ll all need to go through all their own environmental approvals as well.

JOURNALIST: What about consultation with the communities? I mean? Do people know that there is going to be this sort of project outside their fishing area, or are they finding this out today? 

CHRIS BOWEN: No, Gippsland, for example, is the most advanced and there’s been a lot of community consultation. I’ve been to Gippsland myself. I’ve met with groups. I’ve spoken to Darren Chester, the local member there. There’s already been a lot of consultation. This is the formal part of consultation for Gippsland. The others are at an earlier stage. Again, the local members there will be engaging in consultation, as will my department, to get issues aerated. There’ll be very genuine concerns. Around the world people have found a way, for example, for recreational and commercial fishing to work in together with offshore wind. 

JOURNALIST: Where would you expect power from these projects, for example, to go into the grid? 

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, Star of the South will, as again the most advanced project, you know, hopefully. I know my colleague Lily D’Ambrosio is working hard on Victoria’s offshore wind plan. We want to see this develop as quickly as practicable. It will be some years before this comes online. It will be some years because it’s got to be built. 

JOURNALIST: Just on the climate bill, you’re obviously celebrating it passing the lower house, but it’s been criticised as being symbolic. Have you got something next on the agenda that’s more practical? 

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, it’s not symbolic. It is practical because it sends the message to investors that we’re open for business. I mean, this is 20 years of climate wars we’ve had; 10 years of delay, dysfunction, that this Parliament is taking big steps to end. I mean, there’s a reason why the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, all called for the legislation to be passed, because they know it provides a certainty for investment, so it’s not symbolic. It’s meaningful. Yes, there’s more to do. What’s next? The day after the passage through the House of Representatives, we’re here doing this; much more to do as well. 

JOURNALIST: Why not commit to a climate trigger in that bill? 

CHRIS BOWEN: As I said last night, Minister Plibersek is working through the issues of the Samuel review. We were very clear that this is a passage of a climate bill and we weren’t going to equate the two issues. 

JOURNALIST: Are you anticipating more amendments to it? 

CHRIS BOWEN: No. 

JOURNALIST: You’ve said also that the Greens have got it wrong about the 114 coal and gas projects. Do you have the correct figure? How many coal and gas projects are there? 

CHRIS BOWEN: No, the point I’m making is just because a company says that they might propose a project, doesn’t mean that there’s some list the Greens say that the Labor Party supports. That’s the point I’m making and that’s the correct point. These projects have to go through board approval, and they have to get financed, which is a significant hurdle. Then they have to go through all the relevant environmental approvals. Minister Plibersek showed yesterday, I think, that that is hardly an automatic process. 

JOURNALIST: So, you’re saying that there’s less than 114?

CHRIS BOWEN: No. I’m saying that there is no pipeline of proposals which the Labor Party, as Mr Bandt suggests, is supporting because there’s a process to go through. Thanks for your time.


ENDS