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Fund our Future Not Gas - Picnic at Bondi

Speech – by Delia Burrage for Voices of Wentworth

Welcome and thank you all for coming along to show your support for climate action.

My name is Delia and I am one of the organisers of Voices of Wentworth.

So who are we? Voices of Wentworth is a non-partisan group that was formed by local volunteers who are concerned about the disconnect between what the majority of voters in the electorate of Wentworth want, and what we are seeing play out in terms of government policy.

We were inspired by the community movements in Warringah and Indi and decided to set up our own so that we could try to raise the quality of debate about Australia’s future – away from identity politics and towards well-informed fact-based decision-making. Away from vested interests and closed-door deal-making and towards transparency and accountability.

We started to talk to people about what concerns them most, then we invited subject matter experts to speak to the community about those concerns and gave people direct access to ask the experts questions. This gives people a way to find out the facts without the filter of the media.

When you look at the data and when you talk to people in this area, the issues they care about most are:

  • Climate

  • The economy and jobs

  • Integrity

These are the concerns people have for the future of Australia. And they are obviously linked.

People are not fools. They can see that the global economy is changing. They can see that the future economic welfare of the country, the ability of their kids to get a job, the ability of their business to grow, is dependent on transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewables.

And yet the government has put forward the concept of the ‘gas led recovery’.

What is it? The short answer is, we don’t really know.

As Malcolm Turnbull said on Q&A “it’s a slogan not a plan”. There is no written plan. There are only hints, a couple of project announcements and a leaked draft from the secret Covid Commission.

What has been hinted at so far is that the government wants:

  1. to use $ 6 billion taxpayer money to fund a gas pipeline from WA to the East coast;

  2. they want to create incentives to engage in gas exploration – perhaps to encourage more foreign companies to do offshore drilling like the PEP 11 project which is planned to drill for gas along the coast of Sydney, to generate offshore profits at the expense of local habitat; and

  3. they have threatened to build a gas-fired electricity plant in the Hunter Valley if the private sector does not invest in power generation.

So what are the reasons they’ve given for the gas led recovery? The government has claimed:

  • there is a 1000 megawatt shortfall in on-demand power generation due to the closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station; and

  • that building the pipeline will bring down gas prices.

Neither of these arguments is born out by the facts:

  • The Australian Energy Market Operator has said that the shortfall is a fraction of the amount claimed;

  • This shortfall will be covered multiple times by 3000 megawatts of battery capacity that has already been announced in the last 6 months; and

  • The government’s own leaked report shows that gas prices will not be reduced.

Gas is not the answer:

  • Audrey Zimmerman Aus Energy Market – gas is going to disappear within 20 years, leaving investments in gas infrastructure worthless or so called “stranded assets”. Domestically, the electrification of manufacturing and industry has already started. The gas led recovery just gets in the way by discouraging investment.

  • The international market for our gas is rapidly disappearing. The rate of tech changes to renewables is unprecedented. Biden’s climate summit has shown a massive lifting of ambitions. Japan and Korea are Australia’s two major export markets for gas and both have committed to net zero by 2050.

  • And the policy framework globally is changing. Australia may soon face tariffs on its goods because of lack of action on climate.

  • Australia’s trade partners are committed to massively accelerated change. Australia is well placed to jump into this exciting new market. We have the capital and the smarts to move rapidly to being a renewables export super power.

Australia has a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a better future both economically and for our climate.

We need our leaders to have vision and integrity to seize the opportunity.

We need our community to put pressure on the decision-makers to change the course.

So how can you help?

Voices of Wentworth is here to provide opportunities for our community to get involved in changing our future:

  • Climate Town Hall – Thursday, 27 May, 2021.

  • Write to your local member.

  • Participate in a Kitchen Table Conversation

  • Get active & volunteer

  • Buy a Voices of Wentworth t-shirt and wear it

  • Go on a Democracy Walk

  • Sign up to our mailing list, facebook group, twitter, instagram.

We look forward to hearing your voice!

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