External crises have major effects on national economies. Whether it’s a resource crisis like the oil shock of the 1970s or a pandemic like COVID-19 that swept the world for two years, globally integrated, open market economies like Australia’s are inherently susceptible to externalities.
However, these exogenous shocks are also a time for reflection and renewal. In the current context, Victoria is faced with a choice: on one hand, we can remain resolute in our continued belief that we can invest in natural gas and carbon capture technologies to combat a rapidly changing climate, and on the other is the sober realisation that, while our resource boom has undoubtedly boosted Australia’s economic fortunes, it has also left our economy in a state of arrested development, entrenching our dependence on a single industry and reducing our capacity to address climate change.
We commend the Victorian government and VicGrid for walking the second path and taking seriously the challenge that climate change presents us with. The Government’s commitment to targeted investment in renewables, strong state intervention into the energy market through the recently resuscitated State Electricity Commission (SEC) and the codified targets for offshore wind within the energy mix are nation leading initiatives.
However, there will need to be additional supports and investments made to ensure that these initiatives are able to deliver on their considerable promises, and ensure that the benefits of the transition to renewables are widely distributed to all stakeholders not just private shareholders.
We welcome the opportunity to participate in this crucial consultation and recommend that the government continues down the path it has established by investing in institutional oversight for state investment in offshore wind, targeted incentives for small to medium sized firms to enter new supply chains, a renewed focus on social procurement, the creation of sector specific industry plans and special funding for workers transitioning out of carbon intensive industries.
We believe that these reforms will ensure that offshore wind is sustainable, both ecologically and economically, and will be part of a prosperous future in Portland and Gippsland.