MOTIONS - Energy Supply (6.2.2019)

Written on the 6 February 2019

Southern Metropolitan

MOTIONS

Energy Supply

Wednesday 6 February, 2019

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan)

 

I am pleased to be able to rise and speak to the motion that we are debating this afternoon, because I think in the contributions of Ms Pulford and others there was very much support for the minister, and even in Ms Pulford's contribution she was talking about giving clear signals to market operators and the economy. Well, clearly what this motion is talking about are the clear signals that the minister was sending to the Victorian community. That is the whole point of this motion, because as it states, it was on 24 January that the minister on 3AW said, and I quote, 'we are absolutely confident' that the state's power supplies would hold up during the hot weather on that day and on 25 January. It was well known; the Bureau of Meteorology had been putting out forecasts about that hot weather event or those days that were going to have hot weather events. In fact even on the Wednesday beforehand the Australian Energy Market Operator had also indicated that there were going to be some issues around power.

They had also warned, back in August I think it wasyes, 24 August, in an articlethat there was a one-in-three chance of power failure in Victoria this summer. Well, the warning signs were coming from everywhere. The minister went out there and said with utmost confidence to the community that there were going to be no blackoutsin fact she was calling them brownouts, but when the power goes out, the power goes out; it is a blackout. It went out across the state. It went out in various areas. Interestingly it did not go out in certain areas. I was thinking to myself, 'Well, the tennis is still going'the Australian Open, that wonderful event that we have. In very hot circumstances that was still able to take place, but in my area of Southern Metropolitan Region there were a number of outages that took placein Southbank, Armadale, Toorak, Camberwell, Caulfield, Elwood, Burwood, Bentleigh, Balaclava, Malvern, Balwyn and Surrey Hills, to name a few.

In terms of what people were saying, they were saying that they were severely impacted. I have spoken to businesses who have said to me, 'If we had known, then we could have planned'. I spoke to a very large manufacturer of food who requires significant refrigeration. When the power blacks out like that, they cannot just flick a switch and it all comes back on. They have to get somebody else to come out and wire it up and do whatever they need to do to get that refrigeration system operating again, at a cost of $250. Those workers had to go home. There was uncertainty about how long it was going to last; their operation could not go ahead. That was a significant impact on that business.

Again it happened last Thursday night when the storm hit. Again their power went out and somebody had to come out again and switch it back on at a cost of $250. There are numerous articles and examples from businesses right across my region, whether it is from cafes or food operators, who have said, 'We had no choice but to throw out that food'. And yes, it is an inconvenience. The other issue is the effect on the vulnerablethe elderly and the very young. As we know, heat stress and dehydration can kill. It can have enormous impacts on the elderly. Again, in my area of Southern Metropolitan RegionI raised this matter with the minister in the adjournment debate last nightChandra Ojha, who is known to me, was under huge distress. He and his wife only wanted a bit of warning to understand that there was possibly going to be a blackout. But the point is the minister had gone out and given that commitment to the communitythat clear signal and commitmentthat there would not be any blackouts.

The community thought that they would be able to withstand that hot weathertheir air conditioners were going to be okay and their refrigeration and their businesses were going to be able to run. That is the problem. That is the point of this motion, that the minister has actually misled the Victorian community and clearly needs to be called out on it. Why did she give that commitment when everybody else was saying, 'There is a one-in-three chance that there will be blackouts this summer?'

The Bureau of Meteorology and others were saying, 'It is going to be a dangerous day'. We knew that the supply of energy was going to be compromised with the closure of Hazelwood, because that had a capacity of around 1200 megawatts. Whether you go to the debate that Dr Ratnam or Ms Shing or Ms Pulford were having about climate change or not, you can argue one way or the other. I grew up on a farm where we had a solar panel in the 1980s. That would provide our hot water, so we were utilising the sun through a solar panel in the 1980s. It is not as if I am against renewable energy or how our productive natural resources can assist us. We had windmills. When the wind blew, the mill would go around and pump the water from the dams. That is what happened. We were utilising those natural resources. So when the government and the Greens and others say that the opposition has no clue about understanding how renewable energies work or that we are dinosaurs, that could not be further from the truth. My own experience, as I have just explained, back in the 1980s Mr Gepp interjected.

 

Ms CROZIER: The 1980s, Mr Geppa solar panel. My father was very forward thinking. He knew we did not have enough supply, and the diesel generator would come on when we did not have a connection to the powerlines. Supply and demandit is pretty basic.

This Victorian community in the last few years have seen what this government has done. It has taken out a huge amount of supply through the unfortunate closure of Hazelwood, and that has left Victoria very exposed. That is the clear message that was being sent, and that will be argued about, but the facts are the Victorian community are suffering because we do not have that ability to generate the power to cope with this. The minister herself has said, 'We've got a 20th century system working in the 21st century.' Well, it is 2019.

We have been in the 21st century for 19 years. There has been a Labor government in this state for 15 of those last 19 years. If it was so dire, what the hell have you been doing in the 21st century? That is what I would ask Labor governments, because that is the point. You come in here now and say, 'This is dire,' but you have been in power for all that time. You keep harking back and blaming Jeff Kennett, for goodness sake, who had no option but to do what he did, which was to save the state from the failed Labor government administration of the Cain-Kirner years. If we are harking back that long, let us put the facts on the table about what was actually happening, rather than all this rhetoric and carry-on from government members who think they know best. Their arrogance and ignorance in this is extraordinary.

It is telling that even the minister in question time today refused to say who had advised her to say that there would be no blackouts. Why wouldn't she just tell the house? Why was she so sure there would be no blackouts, because the warnings were there? A huge quantity of our energy supply is not there anymore. If you look at the graphs, and I may have this slightly wrong, but from my reading there was 2 per cent of solar that kicked in on 25 January and 3 per cent of wind, so 5 per cent of renewable energy kicked in on 25 January. That is fine, but it is only 5 per cent.

What we have been saying is that we need a sensible transition. If you listen to the debate and if you listen to what our side of politics is saying, there is a broad view in relation to whether climate change is real or not. Nobody is denying that. We all know that the climate changes. It has been changing for eons, since the planet was established, for heaven's sake. We know that. We had water in the middle of Australia at one point. Our continent has changed over millennia. We know that. If you look at history Mrs McArthur: Greenland used to be green.

 

Ms CROZIER: Greenland used to be green. So nobody is denying that climate is changing. What we have got to do is really have that reliable secure source for Victoria. As the minister rightly said, we are in the 21st century, so we do not need to be living like a Third World country. She is absolutely rightwe are in the 21st centurybut the government, with their ideological push, because the Greens were breathing down their necks and were a real threat, have got on the old Greens bus and away they have run with this. This is the reality of what the Victorian community is facing.

So those Victorians, those elderly Victorians, those vulnerable Victorians, rightly thoughtthere were hundreds of thousands of people affected'The government is reassuring us'. They had the minister saying this. So again this mission goes to the point of that clear signal or clear statement that the minister made, which was false. I do not think the community has the confidence in the minister anymore because she was absolutely adamant Mr Finn: Because she's a dill.

 

Ms CROZIER: She was so adamant, Mr Finn, in relation to assuring the community, and she failed them spectacularly. There are people who just said, 'If we had warning we could have been better prepared; we could have saved that food', or 'We could have put in contingency plans to enable our business to operate'. On that day I was travelling to Hamilton, so I was listening to the radio the whole day. There were workers who had gone off by 9 o'clock because they knew it was going to be hot. They do not work over 35 degrees or 30 degreesor whatever it is. They had gone. So they knew it was going to be hot.

Why on earth did the minister go out there time and time again and on 3AW give that assurance to the Victorian community? The Victorian community has lost confidence in the minister. She has spectacularly failed in this instance. She had all her excuses. I saw a quote. She quoted that the reason for it was because of the federal Liberal chaos. Can you believe itseriously? This woman is responsible as the minister for energy. Mr Finn interjected.

 

Ms CROZIER: Well, the minister is responsible and she owes an explanation to the public about why or what advice she was given to make such a ridiculous statement that gave false hope to the community, which has now lost confidence in anything that she might say in the future because it is a serious concern. We are going to get more hot days. We are going to have a lot of hot days. We are only in February, and February is invariably very, very hot. I hope the minister will not go out there and mislead the Victorian community as spectacularly as she did on 24 January.

 

 


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