Mr NORTHE (Morwell) (17:30): My question is to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. Minister, your government has pledged a Victorian renewable energy target, VRET, of 50 per cent by 2030. Minister, I ask if any modelling has been undertaken to understand what energy generation sources and associated percentages of those same sources will be required to meet this target. If so, what impact will the VRET have on future operations of Latrobe Valley power stations?
Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (17:31): I thank the member for Morwell for his question and certainly his interest in the future of energy in this state, certainly from the perspective of his community. I think what is important here is that our government has a very strong commitment to all workers within the energy sector, and that is quite evident from the very strong, record amount of investment and support we gave to the workforce in the Latrobe Valley when the private owners of the privatised generation at Hazelwood closed it down. There is no doubt about our government’s commitment to the workforce as we manage a transition to a cleaner and energy future, which is an absolutely essential part of securing our economy and securing our future. We know of course that having strong, robust, ambitious renewable energy targets is so important so that we can actually make sure that we have the energy security that our state absolutely needs. As ageing infrastructure among the current fleet of energy generators gets older and less reliable, it is incumbent on a sensible and ambitious government, one that makes commitments and understands the importance of actually delivering on commitments, to actually get on and do that. We are not ashamed; we are very proud of our renewable energy targets. Our commitment is to ensure that we provide opportunities and grow opportunities for job creation in all parts of our state, and no less so than in the Latrobe Valley. That is why we simply have to look at the record amount of investment that our government put in in the last term to actually grow jobs in the Latrobe Valley and the Gippsland valley just through our own investment funds.
Mr Northe: On a point of order, Speaker, I believe the minister is debating the question. My question related to what impacts the VRET would have on the Latrobe power stations, and I believe the minister has failed to answer or address that specific question as asked.
The SPEAKER: Order! The minister is being relevant to the question that was asked.
Ms D’AMBROSIO: Thanks very much, Speaker. I restate our commitment. Our job is to ensure that we have got the energy security of the future whilst ensuring that we expand the job opportunities of Victorians right across this state, and no less so than in the Latrobe Valley. Just in terms of our commitment from last term, which continues, the Latrobe Valley Economic Facilitation Fund has helped to create 1000 jobs in the Latrobe Valley. Also of course 10 000 more people are employed across the Gippsland region since we came into government at the end of 2014. This does not happen by accident. Our record is very strong. It is clear that it is this side of the house that will always have an interest in our energy security and the jobs that go with that, and we will continue to do more.
Mr NORTHE (Morwell) (17:34): Minister, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target: 2017–18 Progress Report shows that coal and gas still account for more than 80 per cent of Victoria’s energy generation. Minister, given that all existing Latrobe Valley power stations have licences to operate beyond 2030, do you concede that at least one of these power stations will have to close prior to 2030 so your 50 per cent VRET can be achieved?
Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (17:35): I thank the member for Morwell for the supplementary question. We only have to turn our attention to the commentary that has been made by the existing generators in the Latrobe Valley. They have made it very clear that they intend to stay for the life of their licences, and we do not anticipate that will change. We are very clear that we are growing the energy generation of the future, growing the jobs—thousands of jobs. Let us be frank about this: it was those parties opposite that led to the privatisation of energy systems in the valley that led to thousands of jobs being lost. I can assure the member for Morwell that our commitment to growing jobs right across the state and in the Latrobe Valley, helping to diversify the economy whilst also maintaining and increasing our energy security, is as much top of our agenda, and certainly for me as the energy minister, as it has always been.