Mark Butler: Renewable energy would create jobs in region
LABOR Shadow Minister Mark Butler said investment opportunities and thousands of jobs would be created from a vibrant renewable energy industry on the Northern Rivers.
Mr Butler, the Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, and Janelle Saffin, the Labor candidate for Page, held Q&A meetings at The Channon, Lismore and Kyogle yesterday.
Mr Butler said the Northern Rivers has been at the forefront of the renewable energy industry.
"In ways it has been a pioneer region," he said. "The Rainbow Power Company was doing solar decades ago and are still innovating, exporting, to the Pacific Islands and to other regions," he said.
"This industry is located overwhelmingly in regional areas and the Northern Rivers is one of the regions that benefits greatly from that."
One of Labor's election promises is the 50% renewable energy by 2030 target.
"Currently there's no policy beyond 2020, there's nothing for investors to look to, which is why we announced our 50% renewable energy target for 2030," Mr Butler said.
He said "massive investment" was needed to meet the target.
"Billions and billions of dollars investment throughout that decade and it will create thousands of jobs," Mr Butler said.
Ms Saffin said many future jobs would rely on renewable energy.
"I went to a jobs forum and looking at all the future jobs, it was in renewables," she said.
"The key thing that came out was we need engineers and all the jobs associated with that discipline.
"The Northern Rivers embraced renewables early. We saw the future was not in fossil fuels, we saw the future was in renewables. We saw early what CSG could do to our water."
On the topic of CSG, the regional coordinator of Gasfield-Free Northern Rivers, Elly Bird, said she wanted to see the national Labor government take action against it.
"The federal government really needs to be looking at protecting our water resources and we'd be really pleased to see the Labor government come out with some policies that are strongly protecting our water," she said.
"We want to see a pause on CSG (around Australia) at least until proper regulation can be put in place, at least until there's health studies, at least until we know what the risks and the impacts are."