A wind turbine.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the government remains committed to offshore wind. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • energy (general)

Labor committed to wind power after project blocked

Tess Ikonomou January 10, 2024

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has defended his government’s rejection of a crucial project needed for Victoria’s offshore wind industry on environment grounds.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s decision to veto a planned terminal and assembly plant for the Port of Hastings, has angered the Victorian government which has set strong renewable energy targets for the state.

The move was made to protect internationally recognised local wetlands.

Mr Bowen said the Albanese government was committed to the “careful” development of an offshore wind industry in Australia, and backed the nation seizing opportunities to create thousands of jobs.

He said the government had approved multiple renewable energy developments under Ms Plibersek’s approval.

“But we will insist on proper and rigorous assessment of each and every one,” the energy minister said.

“And this is a balance that we will strike, we have struck, and will continue … to work with states and the private sector to achieve this.”

Mr Bowen said approvals would be assessed “carefully, methodically and in accordance with the law” and he would welcome a fresh application for the project.

He said officials had already met to consider how a fresh application would be dealt with.

Australia has a target of reducing emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Mr Bowen said this matter wasn’t “meaningful” to the nation’s current target as the government didn’t expect many offshore wind projects to be operating by 2030.

“Setting up a new industry from scratch takes time,” he said.

In a joint statement, opposition environment spokesman Jonno Duniam and energy spokesman Ted O’Brien labelled senior state and federal Labor ministers as having “descended into political civil war”.

“As Australians struggle to afford the cost-of-living in 2024 Labor is at war with itself over potential wind farms slated for the 2030s,” they said.

“Not only does the political infighting expose serious rifts within the Australian Labor Party, but it also reveals the perilous position of state and federal Labor’s renewable energy targets that are all-but unachievable.”

The Victorian National Parks Association said the project risked the wetlands and the habitat of threatened bird species.

The hub would have supported state targets of at least two gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2032 – enough to power 1.5 million homes – as coal-fired electricity generation is phased out.