Public Renewable Energy in Northern Queensland

North Queensland has some of the best solar resources on the planet. Free fuel to power the Australian economy! Why wouldn’t north Queensland lead the nation as a renewable generation powerhouse, using our natural advantages including the strengths of our publicly owned electricity system? The Queensland Government should be adopting an audacious, ‘Queensland first’ plan to create a future-facing industry powerhouse in North Queensland.

Queensland LEAN with support of the LEAN Federation is talking to Labor Party members all over the state, discussing the issues of private ownership of the new electricity system and how to maximise the benefits of the transition for all Queenslanders.

Over a number of electoral cycles, Queenslanders have made their views on privatisation of essential services emphatically clear. Plans to privatise government owned entities played a central role in the spectacular demise of both Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman’s premierships.

Queenslanders understand that the market does not best serve their interests when it comes to things we all need. Profit should not be the only driver in the delivery of key services. The black-outs and chaos that South Australia is experiencing are proof of the wisdom of Queensland’s resistance to privatisation of electricity.

What’s more Queenslanders have seen how the “productivity” gains of privatisation are code words for cutting jobs (except in management), cutting corners, stripping regions.

The Queensland Government could make an initial commitment to build say 3 gigawatts of renewable energy with storage in northern Queensland over the next decade with the aim of making renewable energy a state export. Three gigawatts is about ten percent of the renewables Australia needs to build by 2030 to reach our Paris commitments. We can publicly own it and plan it and ensure it serves the people of the state, not just the bottom lines of corporations.

The state can build renewables cheaper than the corporate sector. The cost of borrowing for the state is about 2%, for the private sector its three or four times this. And who pays the interest? The public through our electricity bills. Public ownership will keep electricity prices down.

And why give corporations subsidies to build the renewable energy plant when by building them in the public sector we create an asset for perpetuity that can return cash to build hospitals and educate our kids.

What’s more, by planning a publicly owned roll out of large scale renewables we can sustainably build the solar and wind farms and industries to support them close to where our kids need jobs, not just where it suits the market.

The government’s draft report identifies four types of productive industries associated with building large scale solar and wind farms: development and design, manufacturing, fabrication and construction. If the government is building in a staged, confident manner we can expect to build industries in a number of these areas. We can train our young people, attract expertise and create booming, world-competitive businesses.  Local employment opportunities can go beyond the insecure construction jobs that we have been associated with a number of the privately owned large scale renewable energy plants in the south.  

See the motion we are asking branches to support here.

Download the brochure that explains the campaign here.

And the video which you can watch or show your branch here

The Australian reported on the campaign, see it here

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