By Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens
How do we build an economic system that serves the needs of people and nature, both for today and for tomorrow?
The economy is a tool; a tool we humans invented – like democracy and politics – to help govern our relationships between each other, and between ourselves and the world we live in. If our economic tools are not getting the outcomes we want, making us happy, safe, healthy, better educated and fulfilled and protecting and preparing our country for an increasingly uncertain future in a world on track to be 4 degrees warmer, then it is time our economic tools changed.
Daniel Kogoy, Greens councillor on Leichhardt Council
In inner west and southern Sydney, seven local councils are working together to develop their own renewable energy master plan. This master plan includes Leichhardt, Marrickville, Ashfield, Canterbury, Rockdale, Bankstown and Canada Bay councils and will identify the best ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in these LGAs. It will also cover financing, ownership and operational details, including community/council ownership and joint ventures.
Community owned renewable energy is already common in parts of Europe and North America. In Australia we’re in the early stages of the move away from large, centralised fossil fuel power stations towards clean, decentralised, community scale renewable energy autonomy.
Decentralised renewable energy reduces network costs as power stations can be built quickly and closer to where they are needed. It enables local ownership, which empowers communities and delivers economic benefits locally. It also represents a great opportunity - after the recent shameful electricity sell-offs – to increase the percentage of public and community owned renewable energy.
Joachim Muller, Central Coast Greens
An Australian community-owned wind farm is Australia’s new international champion after winning the prestigious World Wind Energy Reward 2012.
Hepburn Wind is the community co-operative responsible for the first community-initiated and owned wind farm in Australia. As well as generating electrical energy, the 4.1 MW wind farm in Leonards Hill, near Daylesford (about 100 km north-west of Melbourne) it has also helped to educate the community about wind power.
Merging NSW's three state-owned wires and poles companies will not address the causes of power bill increases and will lead to massive job losses and more blackouts, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye. ('O'Farrell
Government to merge state's electricity distributors', Sunday Telegraph, 18 March 2012, http://j.mp/wpkYsY)
The O'Farrell government wants the parliament to hand Treasurer Mike Baird the power to sell off the state's generators while dumping responsibility for future financial losses onto the public purse, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye ('Taxpayers face huge bill after power sale', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March, page 2, http://j.mp/yj9KLJ ).
If the O'Farrell government's draft wind farm guidelines become law, it will be another nail in the coffin for the renewable energy sector in NSW, according to Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge and Planning spokesperson.
Mr Shoebridge said: "Not content with delivering a death blow to the solar industry, today Premier Barry O'Farrell has proposed a set of laws that will kill off the state's wind generation sector too.
"There are two industries ready to compete, right now, for NSW's future energy needs: coal seam gas and wind. If this draft plan becomes law, the government has effectively chosen a destructive coal seam gas future for NSW, over the clean, green and jobs-rich wind energy sector.
The decision to sell off the state's generators demonstrates a failure by the O'Farrell government to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Dr Kaye said: "This is a victory for the National Party over Nick Greiner, but the real losers are the people of NSW.
"The sale of power stations and the controversial Cobbora coal mine will earn almost nothing compared to the on-going costs of private ownership.
"The gentrader transaction poisoned the value of the remaining generators and leaves public ownership the only responsible option.
"By selling off the electricity generators, Premier O'Farrell is dipping into already over-stretched household budgets to pay for infrastructure. Pushing up power bills is no solution to NSW's capital needs for transport, health and education.
"The O'Farrell government is handing over the rights to dump 60 million tonnes of CO2 a year into the atmosphere. This sell-off will undermine the ability of the state to cut its greenhouse emissions for decades to come.
"The O'Farrell government has positioned itself at the top of the slippery slope that undid two Labor Premiers. The Coalition is showing the same cavalier disregard for overwhelming public opposition to power privatisation that left the previous government despised and out of office.
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has condemned the O'Farrell Government's move to cancel this week's Private Members Business sitting day as a cynical manoeuvre to avoid a vote on the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill.
The Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill was next in the order of business due to be debated on Friday morning, the last sitting day of the year.
"Last year Barry O'Farrell condemned Kristina Keneally for her decision to prorogue Parliament in an attempt to avoid scrutiny on the electricity privatisation, yet now he has canned the last sitting day of the year to avoid a vote on the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
The opportunity to ease the pressure on household power bills has been sacrificed to fatten up the profits of the privatised electricity retailers and prop up the competitive market, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
'Sneaking an extra charge on power bill', Daily Telegraph, 2 May, page 2, http://j.mp/10WbkkJ
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today said the O'Farrell Government was following the mistakes of the disgraced former Labor Government by renewing two large coal exploration licences over the Gloucester Valley. Renewal of the licences 6523 and 6563 appeared in the latest Government Gazette.