Australia’s biggest renewables investment unveiled

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has unveiled a $26 billion investment into renewable energy. Picture: Jono Searle/AAP.

By Fraser Barton & Jeremy Cook

Australia’s largest renewable energy investment will be unveiled in Queensland’s budget, with Premier Steven Miles committing $26 billion to the plan.

Mr Miles said he had no other option than to make the record injection, with almost 100,000 job losses forecast if Queensland wavered from its renewables path.

The $26 billion investment will fund renewable power, storage and transmission projects, with $8.68 billion in the next financial year alone.

Mr Miles said economic models indicated Queensland was set to lose out on 87,000 more jobs by 2035 if it failed to meet its 75 per cent emissions reduction target.

“We don’t have an option,” the premier said last Thursday.

“If Queensland doesn’t meet our renewable energy targets, jobs and growth will be devastated.

“Manufacturing would go offshore and regional jobs and industries would be lost.”

The path to zero emissions in the Sunshine State has already been enshrined into law following legislation passing parliament in April.

Queensland is committed to 50 per cent emissions reductions targets by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2035.

The reforms also lock in an 80 per cent renewable energy generation target by 2035 and entrench public ownership of energy assets.

The massive green energy investment to be included in this week’s state budget was about $7 billion more than previously earmarked.

It is set to include $16.5 billion on renewable energy and storage projects as well as $500 million for network batteries and support of local grid solutions.

“We are at a turning point. Our investment in renewable energy is as important today to our economic future as that investment was in the railways in the second half of the 1800s,” Mr Miles said.

“That’s why in next week’s budget we are increasing our investment … to $26 billion over the next four years – the largest investment in income-earning publicly owned renewable energy assets in the nation.”

The Liberal National Party opposition did not support Labor’s renewable energy targets and voted against that bill, but they did support net zero by 2050.

Southern Downs MP James Lister said he’d have preferred if the government gave “back the rights of country communities” living in the crosshairs of the renewables transition.

“I’d have preferred it if Premier Steven Miles had announced that he’d give back the rights of country communities to decide locally if they want wind farms or not,” Mr Lister said.

The MP’s electorate is currently in the midst of a renewables boom and has been earmarked as one of 12 Renewable Energy Zones by the state government.

“His government’s new Renewable Energy Zones allow wind farms to override local council development approval processes, and that takes away the voices and the democratic rights of local communities to decide if they want wind farms or not,” he said.

“You can’t build a feedlot, concrete plant or chemical factory unless it complies with the local planning rules, and even then, people can object and the local council can refuse developments, or impose strict conditions to protect people and the community.

“So why should wind farms be given this special treatment and approved by bureaucrats and politicians in Brisbane instead of by the local community itself?”

The opposition faced backlash for throwing its support behind the state government’s budget without having seen the details.

Former LNP premier Campbell Newman was the latest to take aim.

“It’s insane, but more importantly, though, it’s dishonest, it’s disingenuous,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane last Thursday.

“What you’re effectively doing is saying not only are we just supporting the allocation of money, but we’re supporting the agenda of that government.”

– With Australian Associated Press