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  • Rikki Lambert

Renewable 'pork barrelling' welcomed by northern Victorian councils


Renewable investment in northern Victoria - no longer up in the air, or pigs might fly?

The Albanese government's funding injection to accelerate renewable energy projects in regional Victoria has been branded a boost for Labor mates with Premier Daniel Andrews facing a November state election - but local councils are as happy as pigs in mud.


Federal shadow energy minister Ted O'Brien labelled Wednesday's $6 billion federal spend in Victoria a 'blatant example of pre-election pork barrelling':

"Today’s announcement stinks of billions of dollars for their mates in the lead up to an election. Chris Minns and NSW Labor will be next.
“I fear this will be the first of many announcements by Chris Bowen which undermines proper and proven government approval processes.
“Labor is fast-tracking projects that have not finished feasibility studies and community consultation.

Prime Minister Albanese said on Wednesday:

“This is an historic day for Victoria and for Australia with the rollout of these key projects putting us on track to be a renewable energy superpower.”

The Murray River Group of Councils including the Mildura Rural City Council and Gannawarra Shire Council backed the announcement, welcoming the spending through spokesperson and councillor Libro Mustica:

“We have the solar resource, suitable available land and a track record in the region with projects already delivered in Gannawarra, Swan Hill and Mildura.
“That is why we have projects already with planning permits, ready to go that could generate over 4GW of electricity”
“The only thing holding them back is the transmission network is constrained. Once Kerang Link is built and the Renewable Energy Zones are developed, we will see these solar farms constructed and delivering renewable electricity to the grid”

The Group said the spending would be particularly welcome for Kerang as it faces its 'second 1 in a 100 year flood in 11 years' with the north of the state estimated to gain $1 billion in local supply chain investment, and 3,000 jobs in the construction phase. The federal-state announcement estimated 2,000 direct jobs and $1.8 billion in net market benefits for electricity users from the VNI-West KerangLink project alone.


Nonetheless, shadow energy minister O'Brien was unhappy with the rollout of renewable energy projects in regional Australia:

“Labor wants to carpet regional Australia with tens of thousands of kilometres of poles and wires, and regional communities are right to be worried."


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