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Question without Notice: Coal Fired Power Stations

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : My question is to the Premier. Premier, half of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our coal-fired power stations, which means if you do not have a plan for coal, you do not have a serious plan for climate change. Premier, why doesn’t your government have a plan in place to phase out the Victoria’s remaining coal-fired power stations?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I do thank the member for Prahran for his question. I do not know that the member for Prahran is actually a big fan of phasing out coal. I think he is rather one of those flick-the-switch guys—in the magic world in which he and others live you do not transition, you just flick the switch and suddenly there is no more coal and suddenly—

Members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS: I have said before: just because you are good at walking your pet unicorn does not mean you have got answers to practical, real-world problems. Climate change is real all right, and
that is why every day that this government has had the honour of holding office we have been pushing the most aggressive renewable energy agenda in the nation. And we thank the Greens for their
commentary from the sidelines. It has made the path so much easier. Those—

Mr Walsh interjected.

Mr ANDREWS: Well, I am indebted to the Leader of the National Party for mentioning the term ‘preferences’. I would have thought—

Members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS: How do you get Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer in a bear hug at the same time? Well, if you are from the LNP, that is real easy—cuddling up. And of course Clive Palmer comes for free: he is a big fan of getting rid of coal. He is a big fan of not paying his workers properly, that is what he is a big fan of. And as for Pauline Hanson—well, we know what she stands for.

Members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS: Well, I was going to keep going until you stood up, so—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier will resume his seat.

Mr Hibbins: On a point of order, Speaker, I appreciate the Premier is going off on a tangent on preferences, but I would ask you to draw him back to the substance of the question, which was a plan to phase out coal-fired power stations.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier has been relevant to the question and should not respond to interjections from across the table.

Mr ANDREWS: Speaker, that was most disorderly. I do apologise to the member for Prahran and to the house. As I said, I am not entirely sure that the member for Prahran is all that interested in phasing out coal at all. I think he wants to pretend that you could just wake up one morning and it would be some sort of utopia and it would be all fixed. There would be no more coal-fired power, there would be no more gas-fired power, there would be no more fossil fuels—it would all be solved. Undoubtedly that sort of problem-solving would of course be done by a Labor government, not by those who are mere commentators. But in the real world my preference is to continue to invest in renewable energy and hope that we get at a national level something approaching a coherent energy policy so that we can see further investment in technology that is sustainable and technology that generates more power and puts downward pressure on prices—that we get a coherent energy policy to make the transition that we are so committed to.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : The Premier is misrepresenting the Greens position. I was elected, the member for Brunswick was elected and the member for Melbourne was elected on a platform of phasing out coal-fired power stations by the year 2030. So I would point out to the Premier that currently Yallourn is Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power station and emits around 13 per cent of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions and hundreds of kilograms of mercury into the air every year. So I would ask the Premier: will your government put in place a time line to close and replace Yallourn with clean energy within this term of government?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (15:57): On the subject or topic or point of who got elected on what basis, I thank the member for Prahran for giving me an opportunity to remind him and all Victorians, all members of this house, that we take very, very seriously the responsibility that we have to deliver on the commitments that we were elected on. Those are to drive the most aggressive renewable energy target in the nation, to create more renewable energy jobs than we have seen at any point in our nation’s history, to have more power come into the grid and put downward pressure on prices and to do so in a responsible, actual, real world—not on a holiday from reality but with the hard work of reform, change, transition and improvement. A coherent national energy policy would be a great help in that important work.

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