Ripon MP Louise Staley has used the Ararat and Stawell region’s wind power industry to criticise the state government over job creation.
Ms Staley told parliament that she had gone back over the announcements of new wind farms in her electorate to tally up the total long-term jobs created,
“Wind energy is heavily promoted by this government as being part of the solution to our energy woes, after they caused the closure of Hazelwood and saw power prices skyrocket.
“One of the things that the government likes to talk about in relation to wind energy is the jobs.
“The five existing wind farms are currently providing 45 jobs across Ripon. They are welcome jobs, those 45 jobs, but I will put in context in a minute what that means for the overall situation of employment in Ripon.”
Ms Staley said the total of new employment were not enough to cover what she described as long-term job losses in the region.
“When we talk about the planned wind farms, we have 62 ongoing jobs. So the great panacea, apparently, of wind energy that will create jobs for Ripon – we have got 45 now and we have got 62 coming.
“They are all welcome – every single one of those jobs is welcome – but to put those in context let us look at the Stawell labour force. A number of these wind farms are around Stawell.
“Stawell’s labour force has declined by 423 people since the election of the Andrews Labor government.”
Labor candidate for Ripon in the 2018 state election Sarah De Santis said staying with emissions-intensive power generation would not help the region.
“The Member for Ripon is again out of step with the community she claims to represent – no one in our region believes coal is the answer to our energy woes.
“Nor do they think that pouring good money after bad into privatised power stations, never designed to last the length of time they have, will do anything other than push back a problem that should have been dealt with already.
“The Member’s claims are reflective of the same lack of leadership and inaction we’ve seen under the current Federal Coalition Government.”
Ms De Samtis highlighted the state government’s Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) as a policy that would provide for future industries across the region, more jobs and more affordable energy prices.
Ms Staley also took time in parliament to again criticise the VRET, which she blamed for higher electricity prices and the resulting pressure on businesses and low-income residents.
“The disadvantaged in my electorate, of whom there are many, are doing it hard because of this government’s energy policies,” she said.
“When we are talking about the need to increase and encourage employment across Ripon, we have employers facing a tripling of some power bills – and a doubling of them is not uncommon.
“Companies and manufacturers from those such as AME, Gason and Action Steel Industries through to Mortlock Hydroponics and Parkview Bakery – just some of the companies, and they are right across Ripon – have had to take very dramatic action to try to pull their power bills into line.”
Ms De Santis said she sympathised with people who were affected by electricity prices by the state government’s policy would help over time.
“As we correct the current demand of energy with better, cleaner and more efficient production we will inevitably pay less and less on our power bills,” she said.
“While I completely sympathise and understand the burden imposed on everyday people and business struggling with the rapid rise in energy costs, false claims and fear mongering is just not the answer.
“We need real answers and real solutions – the Victorian Labor Government is the only one seeking to provide those answers and those solutions to our communities.”
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