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Question without Notice: Phase out coal

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
17 August 2022

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): My question is to the Premier. Victoria’s three coal-fired power stations are currently Victoria’s biggest source of climate pollution, and the Loy Yang power plants are licensed by the government to operate for another 2½ decades. Premier, why doesn’t the government have a clear, transparent time line for the staged closure of Victoria’s remaining coal-fired power stations?
Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I thank the member for Prahran for his question. There are a couple of things he omits in his question, and one is of course that the government does not own the coal-fired generation capacity that he cites. It was for better, and I expect for worse, sold off by another group in this Parliament. What a winner that has been for the environment. What a winner that has been for consumers. What a winner that has been for workers in the valley who were promised many, many things and delivered not very much at all, or at least not very much good. On the issue, though, that the member raises, with the greatest of respect to the member for Prahran, I just make this point: it is called an energy transition for a reason. If there were a switch that you could simply flick and go from the emission profile we have now to zero, then of course even this indolent lot over here might have done that in the four wasted years they spent sitting on this side of the house most recently. But it is not quite as simple as that because, for instance, you need heating and cooling, you need light and power, you need industry and jobs and you need to make a transition, particularly in the context of a national government—well, the Morrison government and then the secret Morrison government
as well—who I think in nine years had how many energy policies. Actually they may have had lots of energy policy; they certainly had no energy plan, and they had no energy to make this transition. So it is not a simple matter. It is a complex matter. But one thing is simple and obvious, I would hope, to all, even those who are climate commentators, renewable energy spectators, people who sit on the sidelines and perhaps never actually get any of the real work done. There is not much power being generated by the Greens political party. There is not much reform being delivered by the Greens
political party. You have only got to wonder: imagine where we would be today if we had not had a Greens political party in another Parliament stop an emissions trading scheme twice. I would say to the member that he would have more credibility if he had done more. In any event, regardless of his credibility or the lack thereof, I reckon Victorians are not so much into climate change talk; they want more climate change action. And the way to do that is to keep supporting Victorian Labor.
Mr HIBBINS: On a supplementary question, it is a shame that the Premier has forgotten the prime ministership of a Victorian, Julia Gillard, who actually governed with the support of the Greens and delivered Australia’s best ever climate policy. This is the critical decade on climate  action, and whilst the—


Members interjecting.


The SPEAKER: The member for Sandringham can leave the chamber for the period of 1 hour.


Member for Sandringham withdrew from chamber.


Mr HIBBINS: The Premier points to the privatisation of our energy system, but it is the government that actually does issue the licences for those coal-fired power stations. The fact is this government does not have a time line for the closure of coal, instead leaving it up to those private energy companies that the Premier seems to so oppose. Premier, I ask: why is the government leaving our climate and affected communities at the mercy of private energy companies?

Mr ANDREWS  I am not sure that I should thank the member for Prahran, because I could not follow the last bit of that. Are we running these things? Are the private companies running these things? Are we in charge? Are they in charge? Are we at their mercy? Are they at our mercy? You would not be confused, would you, perhaps? You would not be nothing more than a cheap commentator on the sidelines while Labor governments get on and do the heavy lifting to create jobs, the heavy lifting to protect the planet, the heavy lifting to make sure that we have got a low-carbon future, not just talking about climate change but delivering climate change action? Surely even those as self-obsessed as—


Mr Hibbins: On a point of order, Speaker, the Premier has already indicated that he did not understand the question and clearly does not understand how the energy system works. And if that is the case, he should sit down.

The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Prahran, you know well that is not a point of order.


Mr ANDREWS: What is hard to understand is how someone who has never so much as lifted a finger to reduce emissions in this state has the gall to get up and ask a question like this. Commentary is cheap and useless. Action is what we need. That is what we are delivering. Stick with Labor, and there will be more of it.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
17 August 2022
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