More wind turbines are on the agenda for the Gippsland region, according to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
During Mr Rudd’s visit to Traralgon on Saturday, he raised the issue of alternative energies and its impact on the region’s future, while confirming his support for the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal industry.
“Obviously wind has a strong place… and that’s why you will find in the budget we have significant funding allocations not just for research but the deployment of alternative energies as well,” Mr Rudd said.
“Windfarms are important in terms of an alternative energy resource for Australia but it’s the location of windfarms which is a local developmental approval challenge.
“I understand it’s difficult across the country to get those developmental approvals right but I’m sure with proper and reasoned debate at the local level it could be done right.”
Mr Rudd assured coal generation would play a vital role in the country’s future.
“I come from Queensland which is the largest coal exporting state in the country so don’t assume when it comes to coal and coal fired power generation that these interests are not first and foremost in my mind,” Mr Rudd said.
“(And) when we go about negotiating our emissions trading regime for the future we’ll make sure, through what we do, that we look after the interests of not just local workers but also people on lower-middle incomes, who would otherwise be adversely affected by any future adjustment of the carbon price.
“I understand acutely the challenge that this represents in terms of local jobs and employment both in my own state, in the Hunter and in Latrobe.
“That is the responsible course of action for the future, acting on climate change but doing it in a balanced way that doesn’t penalise workers and penalise workers’ families.”
The wind turbine debate flared up recently when speculation surfaced that a windfarm could soon be built in the rural district of Carrajung.
Rumours about a windfarm gathered momentum when representatives from energy company Synergy Wind were seen conducting wind measurements in the area.
However the company denied rumours it was planning to build a windfarm at Carrajung.
While the company confirmed it had staff in the area taking wind measurements, it said this was common practice across all regions of Victoria and New South Wales.
By Shaun Mallia
29 May 2008
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