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Infighting over renewables rush: “Mallee farmers are not pawns”

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Regional communities must not become collateral damage as Federal and Victorian Labor fight over their reckless renewables rush, Member for Mallee Anne Webster warns. 

The Albanese Labor Government last week blocked the Allan Labor Government’s plan to build a plant to assemble wind turbines for offshore wind farms, while Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio accused the Federal Government of sitting back and making the states do all the work in the energy transition.

“Labor’s net zero charge is not only fragmenting Mallee communities railroaded into hosting renewables projects to meet fanciful targets – Labor cannot agree among themselves,” Dr. Webster said.

“Mallee communities are not pawns in Labor’s energy wars. Social licence in our communities, preserving prime agricultural land and our pristine native bushland are paramount considerations.

“If ocean-based wind turbines are not approved for fear of adverse impacts on wetlands, why is Labor prepared to risk Mallee wetlands and rip up prime agricultural land, with local communities fragmented because of the projects?”

Dr. Webster said Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen had shown a lack of leadership by disregarding the concerns of farmers and communities right across regional Australia.

“I have stood with Mallee communities whose livelihoods are put at risk by projects such as VNI West, all spurred on by the distracted Albanese Labor Government’s ideological Rewiring The Nation plan,” Dr. Webster said.

“The Minister cannot even get his Victorian counterpart on board and local communities are divided, so why put generational Mallee farmers’ farms at risk? Mallee is not a dumping ground for Labor’s bad policies.”

Dr. Webster said Labor’s lack of coordination also risked further instability in Victoria’s power grid, which will keep energy bills high for Mallee families.

“Labor has this week demonstrated they are not genuinely focused on the cost of living, but on ideological energy debates. The Prime Minister needs to cut out the infighting and ideology and focus on solutions to provide reliable power and reduce energy bills,” she said.

The Buloke Times 19 January 2024

This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 19 January 2024.

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