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Speech: Southern Ocean Wind Farm

Speech: Southern Ocean Wind Farm - YouTube

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise to speak briefly on this motion on behalf of the Greens, and make some reflections on the motion, but also tilting at windmills. The world is facing a climate emergency. It is now beyond all doubt that human-induced climate change is having a profound effect on our planet. It is changing the environment irretrievably and it is sending species extinct.

Climate change risks the world's food production capacity. It impacts hardest on the poorest communities with the lowest resilience. Climate change is also increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which affect us all. Protecting the environment, living more in harmony with nature, caring about social justice and future generations are all universal values I would hope.

This climate emergency is an existential threat. It is the greatest moral challenge of our time, but thankfully there are things we can do. We have the knowledge, we have the technology, and we have the overwhelming bulk of the community on our side, on the side of climate action. If we have political will, we can take real and effective action to address climate change, and to minimise the harm that it will cause to people and the environment on which we all depend.

The climate crisis is caused by mining and burning coal, oil and gas. These elements are heating up our planet and, if we do not phase them out, the world is going to be a more dangerous
place to live. By phasing out coal and gas power plants, investing in offshore and onshore wind, solar and energy storage, and rewiring Australia with a 21st-century electricity grid, we can repower our
economy and society with clean energy.

By shifting to renewable energy and electrifying everything, we not only drive carbon pollution to zero, but we can lower home energy bills and industry costs while creating jobs right around the nation. So I ask those in the chamber today: what practical solutions are they putting forward to ensure that our state is not left behind when it comes to renewable energy?

Indeed, my previous colleague, the Hon. Mark Parnell, an environmental lawyer and a champion of climate action, had a lot to say on this matter previously. For the benefit of the council, and some of the newer members, I will repeat some of his words today. He said back in 2018, in a previous debate on wind farms: I am yet to meet a single person who does not profess to agree that we need a cleaner, greener, more sustainable and fairer world.

It feels times are a little different right now. Nick Xenophon may be gone, but his anti-wind legacy remains. SA-Best have a long history of misquoting and overexaggerating data on the impacts of wind farms. They moved their latest motion about wind farms after the state government had already made an announcement, and indeed the very World Health Organization report their argument was based on had in fact been misinterpreted.

We know, and research has told us very clearly, that wind farms are currently the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy. Technological advances in the sector mean that wind turbines are now larger, more efficient and make use of intelligent technology. Wind was Australia's leading source of clean energy in 2020, supplying 35.9 per cent of this country's clean energy and 9.9 per cent of Australia's overall electricity.

To quote Kane Thornton, the CEO of the Clean Energy Council: In South Australia, the wind energy sector currently employs hundreds of people, provides steady income for landholders and local governments, and benefits broader communities through the numerous community enhancement funds in operation.


I spoke earlier about the solutions to climate change—solutions to ocean acidification, sea levels rising, the millions of deaths each year from air pollution, damage to the Great Barrier Reef, increased frequency and seriousness of fires, floods and storms, and thousands or millions of species going extinct. If there is a better solution, I would certainly love to hear it and I am sure many others would
too. It is clearly no surprise that the Greens are pro wind farms. However, we do not approve of those private projects steamrolling our regional communities.

We do support this motion; however, we question why it was put up after the issue had already been addressed by the Malinauskas government and why we are even voting on it today. But we want those renewable projects to go through an appropriate and normal process. We want the public to have the right to challenge projects and it is not about whether you like the project or not; it is about having an appropriate decision-making pathway.

Wind energy generation investment in South Australia must progress within the context of a mature planning regime that aligns with international standards, and an industry that observes responsible community engagement practices and lets South Australia set the standard. With that, I question why we have this motion today, but we will support it while wondering what the true motivations are.

 

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