Private Members Business - Energy

21 November 2022

I thank the member for Wentworth for moving this motion and allowing me to highlight the vast amount of work that the Albanese Labor government is already doing in this space. We have committed in our budget to expand the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards program, as well as the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme. Energy demand-side actions and performance improvements can help to reduce energy waste, accelerate the uptake of new technology and relieve cost-of-living pressures on consumers. They also help to deliver our key policy commitments, like the Powering Australia plan, and our emissions reduction targets. Our expansion of home energy ratings will improve residential building minimum standards and support improvements in the energy performance of Australia's housing.

I agree with the member for Wentworth that household electrification policies are most effective when a company buys solar and battery systems for electric vehicles. That is why the government is taking the lead on driving household electrification by committing $224.3 million in the budget to support 400 community batteries to store excess energy from rooftop solar generation. One of these batteries will be in Warrawong, in my electorate, which is one of the lowest socioeconomic areas. This is a great win for people in Warrawong, delivering lower electricity bills and reducing emissions. We have also committed $100 million for the community solar banks program, which will support 25,000 households to access the benefits of community scale solar, rooftop solar and clean energy technologies.

But we're not stopping at households. Our National Electric Vehicle Strategy is bringing state and territory governments, industry, unions and consumers together to bring Australia up to speed when it comes to modern road transport technology. We want to make sure that our infrastructure and our industries are ready to support the transition to electric vehicles. Our Driving the Nation Fund doubles the Commonwealth's investment in EV infrastructure, including charging and refuelling stations. Investments under this fund will create a national EV charging network and a national expansion of hydrogen highways. Our policies finally bring Australia into the modern age, reducing power bills, reducing our emissions and improving access to new technologies. Our government knows the potential Australia has in a decarbonising world. Minister Bowen said it best when he stated: 'The world's climate emergency is Australia's job opportunity.' We can be a renewable energy superpower, exporting renewable energy while using it domestically.

I recently had the opportunity to meet in my electorate office with another well-known proponent of electrification: Saul Griffith. Saul is a former energy adviser to the White House and the founder and chief scientist at Rewiring America. After playing a key role in the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States of America, Saul is now focusing his efforts back home with Rewiring Australia. Rewiring Australia is looking to create the country's first electric community, with the pilot program, Electrify 2515, in the suburb of Thirroul in the north of my electorate. With greater investment in the renewable and clean energy space, it is vital that we foster our workforce to grow alongside it. That is why the Albanese Labor government is investing in education and training to equip our current and future workers with the skills they need. I am proud that our government is doing just that—in particular, with two commitments in my electorate in the Illawarra. The first is an energy future skills centre at the University of Wollongong, and I've also secured a renewable energy training facility at Wollongong TAFE.

I respect the intent behind this motion, but it does appear to ignore the actions our government is already taking. We are taking the lead on driving household electrification, particularly for low-income households. Around 500 households in Warrawong, a suburb with some of the most vulnerable people, will benefit from the Labor government's investment in a community battery. Households that wouldn't be able to access clean energy technologies will be supported to gain the benefits of rooftop solar and other technologies, helping them to overcome the upfront capital costs of electrification.

We are working with state and territory governments to urgently improve the regulatory infrastructure, enabling greater electrification of our energy system. One example of this is the Marinus Link, which is part of our Rewiring the Nation plan, a nation-changing infrastructure project. Our government knows the opportunities that decarbonisation offers our country and, unlike the previous government, we are jumping on those opportunities. Electrification is a major aspect of this, and our policies are driving the change needed for lower electricity bills and lower emissions.